Melbourne's fitness pays dividends

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick believes his side's comfortable 4-0 win over Wellington, which saw the reigning premier go back to the top of the Hyundai A-League table, is a product of the his recent fitness push.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick believes his side's comfortable 4-0 win over Wellington, which saw the reigning premier go back to the top of the Hyundai A-League table, is a product of the his recent fitness push.

With the finals beckoning and a third Hyundai A-League title firmly in Victory's sites, Merrick credited Melbourne's recent away losses, not to a drop in form, but to his experimentation with the 'science of periodisation.'

"There is always this balance between too heavy a work load and freshening the boys up for the weekend but you've got to get some fitness in the bank for when you need it," Merrick said.

Recent back-to-back away losses to North Queensland and Newcastle threatened to derail Melbourne's season, but impressive wins against Perth, Adelaide and now Wellington have shot Victory straight back to the top of the pile, two points clear of Sydney.

The Victory went up 1-0 in the first half thanks to a Tim Brown own goal before second-half goals from Archie Thompson, Carlos Hernandez and Matthew Kemp wrapped up the points for Melbourne.

"It was a really good second half performance and even though the boys were tired, we seemed to step it up a gear and could've scored several more goals, I think Marvin (Angulo) could've scored a hat-trick," he said.

"It was probably an ideal performance, no injuries and we had two guys coming back from fitness that did really well, Evan Berger and Matthew Kemp so pretty impressive performance all round."

Merrick believes the two lacklustre performances'are now well and truly behind the team and said Melbourne's fortunes this season was now firmly in its own hands.

He also said he welcomed the 'challenges' that await at the team selection table ahead of Friday's away trip to the Gold Coast with Evan Berger, Kemp and Nick Ward fit and available.

The win wasn't the only good news for Melbourne with Thompson becoming the first Melbourne player to notch 100 Hyundai A-League appearances.

"To be honest I didn't know it was my 100th until I got a phone call yesterday saying that they were going to present me with some kind of plaque or ball at the end of the warm up," Thompson said.

"To be the first to make 100 for this club especially is a great honour for me but to be honest I was more focused on doing a job tonight, I think the team lifted it has been a tough week for us especially with the turnaround being so short."

Thompson capped his milestone with a fine goal and was always confident his side would get the three points.

"I think we dominated, we still had the better opportunities in the first half, we had Rodder's (Rodrigo Vargas) header off the bar, I followed up and it was a great save from (Liam) Reddy."

"We came out strong in the second half again and I think our class shone through."

"It proved tonight that we were the fitter side and we've definitely been working a lot harder."