Tassie plays host to Victory as Mariners hold on for draw

Melbourne Victory’s pre-season preparations are almost complete, playing out a nil-all draw in Tasmania against Central Coast Mariners in its final hit-out on Sunday.

Melbourne Victory-s pre-season preparations are almost complete, playing out a nil-all draw in Tasmania against Central Coast Mariners in its final hit-out on Sunday.

The 5000-strong crowd got excited when The Mariners found the back of the net from a free kick late in the first half, only for the goal to be disallowed for offside.

Victory created the better chances at Launceston-s Aurora Stadium, but could not land the decisive blow in the annual pre-season match on the Apple Isle.

Melbourne Victory Football Operations Manager Gary Cole was impressed with what he saw, before the club kicks-off its Hyundai A-League campaign with a Grand Final rematch against Sydney FC on August 7.

"It was a very good hit-out, we were very pleased," Cole said.

"We were solid at the back, fantastic in midfield and created three or four good chances up front. A lot of our youngsters got involved as well, so we were able to keep the side fresh."

With only Carlos Hernandez absent from what will most likely be Victory's first-choice line-up, Melbourne started in a 3-4-3 formation, after Captain Kevin Muscat returned to the team after an extended off-season.

Hernandez, who also missed his side's clash with Boca Juniors last weekend, is racing against time to be fit for Round 1 as he battles a calf strain.

"I think he's on track," Cole said. "He commences running this week, so we're hopeful that he's on track to play some part in the Sydney game." Hernandez's plight highlighted Victory's need for another attacking option.

Robbie Kruse, who has been supported up front by the likes of Mate Dugandzic and Tom Pondeljak during pre-season friendlies, remains the sides only recognised forward with Archie Thompson out until at least January as he recovers from a knee reconstruction.

Victory has two spots to fill on its 23-man roster, but Cole said the club would not rush into making a signing.

"We're well aware that we need at least one, possibly two strikers, and we're working hard," he said.

"But we refuse to grab just anybody to fix the problem, we want some quality there. So it's a work in progress, but we'll come up with the right player shortly, I'm sure."

Midfielder Evan Berger suffered a corked calf in the second half and Surat Sukha also left the field with a "tight" hamstring, but neither is expected to miss the start of the season.