Merrick proud of Victory

Victory coach Ernie Merrick applauded his players' efforts in the second half of Saturday's 3-1 loss to Perth as they pushed the Glory to the limit before being hit with a late wonder-strike from Adriano Pellegrino.

Victory coach Ernie Merrick applauded his players' efforts in the second half of Saturday's 3-1 loss to Perth as they pushed the Glory to the limit before being hit with a late wonder-strike from Adriano Pellegrino.

Merrick said his players were exhausted following back-to-back trips to Wellington and Perth, but said they still produced a massive second half, pulling a goal back in the 55th minute after Eugene Dadi gave the Glory a two-goal, first-half cushion.

The Victory came agonisingly close to scoring an equaliser. Nick Ward just failed to connect with the ball as it bobbed around in the box, while Danny Allsopp and Rody Vargas just missed headed attempts as well.

But Pellegrino's goal against the run of play finished off the contest and demonstrated, according to Merrick, that Melbourne can't rely on playing only one half of football, even against teams in the bottom half of the table.

"It's an old cliche but it was certainly a game of two halves and we conceded two soft goals by our standards," Merrick said.

"We didn't play our inter-passing game but the second half we played our quality of football and kept the ball really well. We scored one goal after 10 minutes into the second half, thought we'd go on with it."

"We took off a defensive player and played an attacking player and created our chances, we just didn't score with them and they scored a terrific goal and we tend to cop those every now and again ... that killed us really."

"(But) the last five games, we've played one game at home (so) it was a credit to the boys, they fought back and they fought really well in the second half. It's not been a kind draw but we (have) just got to go on with it."

Merrick refused to attribute the defeat to the absence of star striker Archie Thompson, who was a late withdrawal from the starting XI after his knee failed to recover from a knock at training last week.

"We thought he'd come good but it never quite eventuated," Merrick said. "(But) we're not a one-man team. We're pretty happy to have (Ney) Fabiano and Fab scored a great goal."