Ward rapt with solid defence

He may have just scored one of the best goal of his career, but Nick Ward's focus after the 2-0 win over Adelaide at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday night was on the Melbourne defence after the club kept its second clean sheet of the season.

He may have just scored one of the best goal of his career, but Nick Ward's focus after the 2-0 win over Adelaide at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday night was on the Melbourne defence after the club kept its second clean sheet of the season.

Ward said that the return of Kevin Muscat after a five-week absence made a major difference to Victory's level of confidence in defence and it showed with an assured performance topped off by Ward's extraordinary goal and a late strike from Grant Brebner.

Melbourne has had problems from set pieces in recent weeks, but Muscat's organisation was a huge difference according to Ward.

"We defended well from corners and free kicks and the boys were a lot sharper. They had no-one free, whereas in a couple of the other games, things were dropping and the strikers were putting them in. We've worked on things like that and it's showed out the park tonight," Ward said after the game.

It was Ward who set the tempo for the match just six minutes in after he floated in what looked like an optimistic cross which deceived Adelaide goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic and went in at the near post. The midfielder, who was deployed in a more attacking role alongside Tom Pondeljak and Archie Thompson on Friday night, joked that he had been trying that shot out at training.

"I've been practicing them after training," he said. "But honestly it was a half shot, half cross. I'm saying it was 50-50. It looked like it moved and went in by the post. I'll take it," he said.

Ward has been called on to be Mr Versatile this season, even stepping in at full back earlier in the season against Brisbane when Muscat was injured. But he admits he prefers a more advanced role.

"Playing as full back was not my preferred position, I was filling in. I love the opportunity to play up forward with Archie and Tommy, you've got a license to move around, it was good," he said.

Coach Ernie Merrick was delighted with his new look attacking formation, and said it worked wonders for the team in their seventh-straight win over Adelaide.

"I think we have a good side when those three are up front and getting good service and Carlos was providing terrific service today," he said.

"I'd just like to play like that every week. We've sad we haven't been playing for 90 minutes and we haven't been playing with our normal intensity, and it was just terrific to se the boys play out the 93 minutes, with full intensity."

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