Praise for Carlos, Archie

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick has lavished praise on attacking duo Archie Thompson and Carlos Hernandez after Victory took a giant leap toward booking a spot in the finals with a 2-1 victory over Queensland on Friday night.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick has lavished praise on attacking duo Archie Thompson and Carlos Hernandez after Victory took a giant leap toward booking a spot in the finals with a 2-1 victory over Queensland on Friday night.

Melbourne now has 29 points with four matches remaining after the win and currently sit top of the table. Thirty points has been enough for sides to make the finals in the previous three seasons, which leaves Victory in a very strong position.

Merrick's focus remains on the week-to-week performances and after two wins in succession, he seems well pleased with his charges.

"I don't know if we are in title winning form, but if we keep that up, we'll make life very difficult for teams in the top four," he said.

Thompson, who could have had a hat-trick but ended up with no goals, and Hernandez, who had his best game for some while, were singled out as key performers in the win.

"I thought Carlos was outstanding in both halves," Merrick said. "In the first half, when it's easier to play the ball back under pressure, he continually got a turn on, no matter who was marking him. He played some great balls through, he switched the play. He was in devastating form. That's the Carlos we really appreciate having on the ground. It's great he is playing such great football at this time of the season."

Thompson had a somewhat frustrating evening, hitting the post, missing a couple of good chances and getting fired up at Hernandez at one stage for not passing to him. But he all but finished the first goal for Danny Allsopp with his brilliant cross and his influence on the game was crucial.

"I thought Archie had an absolutely outstanding game," Merrick said. "His dribbling skills, his speed, his ability to turn players. His pass for Dan for the goal was inch perfect, and he cracked the right footer of the post, his left footer was 2cm wide, I'm trying to get him free kicks as well."

Defender Rody Vargas got his name on the scoresheet for the second time this season after getting onto the end of Billy Celeski's free kick to make it 2-0 after 67 minutes. Vargas said the set piece move was one the team had worked on at training.

"It's something we've been working all year. Billy played a fantastic ball in a good area. That's all we ask of whoever takes free kicks is to get the ball in a good area. I got a flick on it and it sailed over the keeper," he said.

That 'flick' was hardly orthodox, with the ball coming of the back of Vargas' head while he was facing away from the goal, and looping over Liam Reddy.

"I knew what I was doing," he said. "I was hoping it was going to end up in the back of the goal and it did. I've had a few this year that haven't come off and thankfully it came off tonight."