March 30, 2013
Victory clinch late win over Phoenix
Finals football is now occupying Ange Postecoglu's mind after Melbourne Victory wrapped up third place on the A-League ladder with a scrambling 3-2 win over Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.
The win means Melbourne will host sixth-placed Perth Glory in Friday's elimination final, although Postecoglu is hoping for a more convincing effort than his team delivered at Westpac Stadium.
The visitors let slip a 2-0 lead after an early strike from former Phoenix favourite Marco Rojas was doubled at 56 minutes by Marcos Flores.
But quickfire goals from Stein Huysegems and Jeremy Brockie 10 minutes later levelled the scores, and it took a cool finish from seasoned campaigner Archie Thompson on 83 minutes to wrap up the win.
Postecoglu wasn't overly worried about the hiccup, saying afterwards his priorities centred around surviving the final game of the regular season injury-free.
"The performance was OK, nothing flash. But in the end we got the win and came through unscathed," he said.
"To Wellington's credit, they had nothing to play for, but they were quite adventurous and caused us problems."
Following last week's 3-2 upset loss to Perth Glory, Postecoglu said it was important to regain momentum with a win over bottom of the table Wellington.
"Where you finish on the ladder is still important in terms of your season, and we lost last week. If we'd gone in with a couple of defeats, that wouldn't have been great for us."
Re-integrating influential internationals Mark Milligan, Thompson and Rojas back into the team after time away on World Cup qualifying duty was also important, as was giving Flores more game time in his return from injury.
Postecoglu admits to having more than half an eye on Friday's elimination final, resting key players such as Billy Celeski and giving youngsters like Jason Geria game time before the sudden-death intensity of the knock-out finals series.
"There's a lot more edge to it, there's a lot more pressure in every situation," Postecoglu said.
"The tempo is usually higher, and the intensity's definitely high if you're playing knock-out football.
"We're going to be in that situation for the next three weeks - every game could potentially be our last."
He says experience and the right mindset can make all the difference.
"But we've been preparing for that for quite a while, and I think the style of football we're trying to play will be successful in the finals scenario."
|Wellington Phoenix FC||Melbourne Victory|
|1 Mark Paston||39 Nathan Coe|
|22 Andrew Durante||23 Adrian Leijer|
|18 Ben Sigmund||33 Daniel Mullen|
|2 Manny Muscat||30 Jason Geria|
|29 Luke Rowe||31 Scott Galloway|
|11 Jeremy Brockie||5 Mark Milligan|
|7 Leo Bertos||6 Leigh Broxham|
|21 Dani Sanchez||9 Marcos Flores|
|8 Paul Ifill||10 Archie Thompson|
|10 Stein Huysegems||11 Marcos Rojas|
|23 Corey Gameiro||32 Connor Pain|
|30 Scott Basalaj||Tando Velaphi 1|
|15 Cameron Lindsay||Jonathan Bru 8|
|12 Tyler Boyd||Billy Celeski 14|
|16 Louis Fenton||Christopher Christaldo 27|
|Cameron Lindsay for Corey Gameiro (72)||Billy Celeski for Marcos Flores (72)|
|Louis Fenton for Paul Ifill (82)||Christopher Christaldo for Marcos Rojas (78)|
|Tyler Boyd for Luke Rowe (90)||Jonathan Bru for Leigh Broxham (86)|
|Manny Muscat (23)||Daniel Mullen (37)|
|Andrew Durante (45)||Leigh Broxham (55)|
|Ben Sigmund (75)|
|Dani Sanchez (81)|
|· Squads: Wellington Phoenix FC | Melbourne Victory|