Merrick hails 'winning' draw

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick labelled a 3-3 draw with the Brisbane Roar as good as a win after his team lodged its first point of the Hyundai A-League championship season.


Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick labelled a 3-3 draw with the Brisbane Roar as good as a win after his team lodged its first point of the Hyundai A-League championship season.

Trailing 3-1 at half-time, the Victory stormed back into the contest after the break thanks to brilliant strikes by Danny Allsopp and Carlos Hernandez, who also opened his team's account in the first half.

The Victory peppered the goal late in the game but the likes of Archie Thompson and substitutes Ney Fabiano and Surat Sukha couldn't break the deadlock.

Facing successive defeats after a shock opening-round loss to the Central Coast, Merrick was delighted with how his men fought back.

"We played good football throughout, some really slack marking that we paid the price for," Merrick said.

"But I praised the team at the end of it. I just thought to get a draw out of that and nearly get the win through Fabiano and Archie, I just thought that was a tremendous display of football."

Merrick said it was crucial the Victory had at least been able to lodge a point.

"It was vital. For that amount of good play with nothing to show for it, it's pretty tough to take," he said.

"So, I really felt as though it was a win for us."

Missing injured skipper Kevin Muscat, Merrick was forced to reshuffle his defence with Matthew Kemp moving to central defence and Nick Ward moving to right back.

"What happens in training, you think, he performed well, did a good job, but it's never quite the same as the intensity of a match," Merrick said.

"They are good strikers, the Roar, there is no doubt about that, but it just seemed we were punished heavily, whereas at the other end we could have punished them several times."

The Victory showed great spirit to recover after the Roar had silenced the local crowd with goals by Danny Tiatto (22nd minute), Sergio Van Dijk (24) and Henrique (36) in an exhilarating 14-minute burst in the first half.

Merrick said substitute Billy Celeski, who came on in the 52nd minute, would have the fitness to play a full game next Saturday against North Queensland Fury at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

"He has worked hard. We wanted him to come in at the right time," Merrick said.

"I think we chose the right time. I think he'll be hard to move. He had a terrific game."

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