Victory's win soured by injuries

Melbourne Victory's best win of the 2009/10 Hyundai A-League season has come at a cost with three players ending Saturday night's 4-0 win over Gold Coast on the injured list, including veteran midfielder Grant Brebner with a serious ankle injury.

Melbourne Victory's best win of the 2009/10 Hyundai A-League season has come at a cost with three players ending Saturday night's 4-0 win over Gold Coast on the injured list, including veteran midfielder Grant Brebner with a serious ankle injury.

Brebner was carried off on a stretcher late in the first half and was immediately sent to hospital for X-rays and is now facing a long stint on the sidelines.

And the bad run with injury this season of Evan Berger also continued with the left-sided wingback suffering a hamstring strain, having only just returned from groin surgery, while ever reliable defender Matthew Kemp ended the match with a groin strain.

Merrick admitted the latest injuries would be a continuing test of Victory's depth but hoped the club's latest casualties would be inspired by the stunning return of Nick Ward on Saturday night.

Ward, who played just his second full game of the season in his second game back from a serious staph infection, was the man of the match for Melbourne - scoring one thunderbolt from 25 yards as well as setting up the first of Archie Thompson's two second-half goals in the 54th minute.

The win, incredibly only Melbourne's third in nine home games this season, took the reigning champion five points clear at the top of the ladder from Sydney FC - ahead of its Round 16 clash - and six points clear of fourth-placed Gold Coast.

And not even the Victory's latest injury problems could dampen the mood of Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick post-match.

"It was a fantastic performance by us but we have paid a price for it with three injuries," Merrick said after the game.

"However the boys are on top of the world - we have suffered two pretty bad defeats at home (3-0 to Sydney and 4-0 to Central Coast in the club's last home match three weeks ago) and they wanted to atone for that."

Merrick believes the Victory's home form has been nowhere near as bad as it looks on paper.

"All the boys can do is perform on the pitch," he said.

"It doesn't matter what you say, we never felt we were playing badly at home."

Not only did Melbourne bang four goals past Gold Coast - which only had one first-choice defender available due to injury and suspension - but the club also kept its second clean sheet in a row and only its fourth in 16 games this season.

The past two clean sheets have come about since young Mitch Langerak has replaced experienced New Zealand international Glen Moss in goal but Merrick is refusing to say how long his No.2 keeper will remain his first choice.

Merrick said he was delighted with Ward's stunning performance - arguably his best for Melbourne - and hopes his inspirational return from injury will inspire the club's latest casualties as they now begin rehabilitation.

"Nick is a good story," Merrick said.

"Overall we have got a solid squad with plenty of depth and we haven't complained about being short of players left, right and centre this season and even being down the bare minimum at times."

"We have had a season full of injuries and we have had to chop and change the team a lot more than we would like but that is why we have got a squad so everyone gets an opportunity."

Merrick was also delighted with the fantastic atmosphere created by Etihad Stadium being set up in the traditional rectangular format for the first time for a Melbourne home game and hopes stadium officials will consider bring the retractable seats in closer more often to enable Melbourne's fanatical fans to be closer to the action.