Melbourne Victory has secured its first win of the 2009/10 Hyundai A-League campaign with Archie Thompson’s first-half goal enough to get the three away points in an entertaining clash with North Queensland in Townsville.
It wasn’t the most authoritative of performances from Melbourne but the win was just reward for the quality of chances created by the visitors, with Thompson hammering home the only goal of the game in the final minute of the first half after new recruit Adrian Leijer had found him with a brilliant long pass.
North Queensland, much-improved on the side which was easily beaten by Gold Coast 5-0 last week, pressed hard late in the match, but the new-look defence did the job.
Ernie Merrick made three changes to his starting line-up from last week, with Surat Sukha, Leijer and Billy Celeski all in for the first time this season while Grant Brebner, Nick Ward and Matthew Kemp made way.
It was a scrappy and tough start to the game, but North Queensland began the game the better with Shane Stefanutto testing out Glen Moss from range inside the first minute.
The Victory keeper was equal to that challenge but got another fright on 19 minutes, when Stefanutto looked to do so again, forcing a tip over the bar.
Daniel McBreen then fired over, while Leigh Broxham blocked a close-range shot from Rostyn Griffiths as the home side made a good fist of the first 30 minutes.
But from that point, Melbourne got a hold on the game thanks to a more compact defence and the superb work of Tom Pondeljak in the middle of the park.
After several promising attacking moves, most of which involved the veteran midfielder, the goal came via route one.
Leijer showcased the value of his signing to Victory with a brilliant long ball which found Thompson.
The striker trapped it well and fired accurately with his left foot on the stroke of half time for his first goal of the season.
The opening 15 minutes of the second half were much-more attacking and both sides should have really had goals in that period.
Danny Allsopp and Thompson combined superbly to put Thompson one-on-one with Paul Henderson, but his shot allowed the keeper to get down low and save.
A few minutes later, Griffiths latched onto a looping ball from a busy McBreen, but could not find the target with Moss off his line.
Thompson continued to threaten on the quick ball forward and after he was thwarted by John Tambouras on 65 minutes, Evan Berger took a long-range shot which had Henderson scrambling.
Pondeljak and Berger made way for Brebner and Ward on 70 minutes, with Melbourne looking to shore up the middle of the park.
North Queensland was pressing hard for an equaliser, with Robbie Fowler, David Williams and McBreen all trying their hand, while Melbourne’s counter-attacking saw Allsopp hit the bar, albeit from an offside position.
Ney Fabiano replaced Carlos Hernandez, but with the exception of another great save from Henderson to deny Thompson, it was up the other end where the action was happening.
The Fury’s best chance came when a Rody Vargas slip-up allowed substitute Dyron Daal an opening in injury time but Moss stood up to make the save and secure the points.
Courtesy of Melbourne Victory