Preview: North Queensland Fury v Melbourne Victory
Dairy Farmers Stadium, Saturday September 18, 5:15pm AEST
Date: Saturday September 18 Kick-off: 5:15pm AEST Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium
Head-to-head Played 4: Wins: Melbourne Victory 2, North Queensland Fury 1, Draws: 1
Previous Meeting Melbourne Victory 2, North Queensland Fury 2, AAMI Park, August 22
Why we don't like 'em There was little love lost between the teams last time they met just a month ago at AAMI Park, with Eric Akoto finding himself sent off for pushing over Kevin Muscat. The Victory will be keen to make amends after conceding a late penalty in that game as the Fury finished with a share of the spoils.
Season so far: North Queensland Fury: R5: Melbourne Heart 1, North Queensland Fury 0, AAMI Park R4: North Queensland Fury 2, Adelaide United 3, Dairy Farmers Stadium R3: Melbourne Victory 2, North Queensland Fury 2, AAMI Park R2: North Queensland Fury 2, Sydney FC 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium R1: Perth Glory 3, North Queensland Fury 3, nib Stadium
Melbourne Victory R7: Melbourne Victory 0, Wellington Phoenix 0, AAMI Park R6: Melbourne Victory 3, Brisbane Roar 0, AAMI Park R5: Central Coast Mariners 2, Melbourne Victory 0, Bluetongue Stadium R4: Gold Coast United 0, Melbourne Victory 1, Skilled Park R3: Melbourne Victory 2, North Queensland Fury 2, AAMI Park R2: Melbourne Victory 0, Perth Glory 2, AAMI Park R1: Sydney FC 3, Melbourne Victory 3, SFS
Decisions for Ernie Skipper Kevin Muscat (foot) and Robbie Kruse (calf) will both miss again while Diogo Ferreira, Mate Dugandzic and Matthew Foschini are all unavailable because of national duty. Luke Pilkington comes into the squad and Evan Berger and Marvin Angulo likely to get their chance in the Olyroos trio's absence.
Behind Enemy Lines The Fury have added short-term loan signing Sebastian Usai to their squad as back-up goalkeeper to Justin Pasfield while Chris Payne and Isaka Cernak will both be missing because of national duties along with Dyron Daal (hamstring).
Our Hero Adrian Leijer - With Muscat set for a month or so on the sidelines Leijer stepped up superbly in his absence in the draw against the Phoenix and Merrick will be hoping for more of the same from his stand-in skipper over the coming weeks, particularly on Saturday with the third outing in just seven days.
Danger man David Williams - Merrick's men will have to keep a close eye on Williams who has already scored twice this season and will be eager to add to that haul with Daal and Payne not available for this game. Williams has shown plenty of promise and might be starting to deliver.
Why we will win Concerned by a lack of zip in Wednesday's draw, Merrick has already spoken of his need to get his players up mentally this week, particularly after such a long trip and for a third game in such a short space of time.
The Fury have no such concerns having rested up for two weeks since they went down to the Heart at AAMI Park a fortnight ago, but they will have to guard against assuming the Victory will arrive leg weary and play accordingly.
David Williams will no doubt prove a handful up forward and Akoto will be keen to atone after his dismissal last time the teams met, even if he won't get to square up to Muscat this time around.
But there is still plenty of class left in this Victory squad and one gets the feeling that Merrick will have set his players to make a statement this week after not prevailing at home on Wednesday, the coach particularly keen to rebound from that result and take this season's points haul into double figures.
TEAMS: North Queensland Fury squad: 1. Justin PASFIELD (gk), 2. Jack HINGERT, 3. Brad McDONALD, 4. Eric AKOTO, 5. Mark HUGHES, 6. Ufuk TALAY (c), 7. Gareth EDDS, 8. Adam CASEY, 9. Eugene SSEPPUYA, 11. David WILLIAMS, 12. Panagiotis NIKAS, 14. Chris GROSSMAN, 16. Simon STOREY, 17. Osama MALIK, 18. Brett STUDMAN, 21. Jason SPAGNUOLO, 28. Sebastian USAI (gk) * two to be omitted
In: 28. Sebastian Usai (gk) (short term loan signing) Out: 10. Dyron DAAL (hamstring - 1 week), 15. Chris Payne (National Team Duty), 19. Isaka Cernak (National Team Duty) Unavailable: 13. Andre KILIAN (foot injury, 1-2 weeks), 20. Matthew HAM (knee - 4 weeks)
MELBOURNE VICTORY Squad: 1.Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 5. Surat SUKHA, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8.Grant BREBNER, 9.RICARDINHO, 11.Marvin ANGULO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 14. Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 19. Evan BERGER, 20.Sebastian MATTEI (gk), 23.Adrian LEIJER (c), 24. Luke PILKINGTON, 27. Geoff KELLAWAY.
In: Luke PILKINGTON (promoted) Out: Mate DUGANDZIC (National Team Duty), Diogo FERREIRA (National Team Duty), Matthew FOSCHINI (National Team Duty). Unavailable: Archie THOMPSON (knee), Matthew KEMP (knee), Kevin MUSCAT (foot 4 - 6 weeks), Robbie KRUSE (calf 1 - 2 weeks)