Thomas earns coach's praise

Melbourne Victory's debutant goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas has earned the praise and admiration from his coach Mehmet Durakovic after coming on and proving the hero in a remarkable 2-2 draw with Brisbane Roar at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

Melbourne Victory's debutant goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas has earned the praise and admiration from his coach Mehmet Durakovic after coming on and proving the hero in a remarkable 2-2 draw with Brisbane Roar at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

Thomas was called into action when first-choice gloveman Ante Covic was sent off in the first minute of the match and played a major role as Victory, who soon went down another man after a red card to defender Matthew Foschini, weathered the storm to claim a point.

Durakovic was lavish in his praise of the Sydney-born 19-year-old, who arrived at the club in the off-season after a brief spell with Sheffield United.

"Lawrence Thomas tonight was absolutely fantastic, I could have been prouder of this kid. What he did tonight with some of the saves he pulled off, in such an important game, full credit to him and our goalkeeper coach Steve Mautone, who does a magnificent job," the coach said.

"Lawrence was a different class tonight to come in and play this type of game."

Under Mautone's watch, Victory have had a history of producing outstanding stoppers and Thomas joins a long line of keepers to have played for the club, including Michael Theoklitos, Eugene Galekovic and Mitch Langerak.

The most remarkable thing is that he is effectively a third-choice keeper with Tando Velaphi, who would be battling with Covic for a first-team spot, currently injured.

With Covic likely to serve at least another match ban for his red card, which Durakovic described as a fair decision, Thomas will get another shot against the Central Coast next week in Gosford.

Thomas wasn't the only young player to earn post-match praise with striker Archie Thompson, who score both of Melbourne's goals in an 11-minute first half burst, and Diogo Ferreira, who was a surprise call-up into the first XI having barely figured in Durakovic's plans so far this season, also singled out by Durakovic.

"I've got to say that I thought Diogo was fantastic tonight. The kid hasn't played a competitive game and comes in and puts on a performance like that, it was fantastic," the striker said.

Durakovic had nothing but pride for his players, who fought so hard for a crucial point under difficult circumstances.

"I'm very proud of the players. I said to the players before that I've been involved in football nearly all my life and their commitment was absolutely unbelievable," he said.

"Their determination to help each other was absolutely fantastic."

"Broxy and Ferreira were a different class tonight. Archie took his chances quite well, could have had a hat-trick tonight. The way they showed character tonight I couldn't ask any more."

"We are playing one of the best teams the A-League has ever seen and to go down to nine men and get that result was just fantastic."