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Feb 19, 2022   |  10:40PM AET

Post-match reaction: Popovic

Post-match reaction: Popovic

Melbourne Victory Head Coach Tony Popovic was delighted with Saturday’s hard-fought 1-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners.

Nishan Velupillay headed in a 94th-minute winner to see Victory end a three-game losing run in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

Speaking at his post-match news conference, Popovic discussed the win, Matt Spiranovic’s injury and the impact of his substitutes.

on the win…
“Obviously a very important win, tough game, really, really difficult match. They defended very well, it was a bit of an arm wrestle, in the end we kept going, which was very encouraging. We didn’t really give a chance away in the game, defensively we were very solid and we remained patient and confident that we could get the winner and the players that came on made a great impact so we’re delighted with the win.”

on the substitutes…
“Excellent. They all made an impact. I think Birkan (Kirdar) made a good impact as well. Unfortunately for us we lost Matty to an injury so that made it a bit difficult because it’s a sub you’ve already used before half-time and you’ve only got two slots left so it was a delicate one in terms of when do you get the subs on and not leave too much time left in case there’s an injury and you’re down to 10 men. We tried to manage that the best we can to still allow the players to make an impact and fortunately for us they clearly did.”

on Spiranovic…
“Quad, hip, something in that region so he’s getting checked as we speak. He had to come off for it so obviously he will miss some time, which is a shame because he’s been playing really well and we’ve had a couple of other players unavailable, whether they’re injured or sick, which made Matty maybe play a couple of games too many in this period, but he’s looked really good and I feel for him, but I know he’ll come back stronger again.”

on Josh Brillante…
“He’s our leader and he’s growing into that role, both on and off the field. It’s new for him. He has a lot of respect within the Club and he showed a leader’s performance today. I thought he was very good and then second half he had to take another role where he had to help a young player (Kirdar) through, it was a tough match, he got thrown in there, probably without much of a warm-up, we needed him on there quickly and I thought he adapted well and today he probably took another step in terms of his development in the game.”

on Velupillay…
“He had a great impact. He came on and he was excellent, that’s clear, but he’s a young player and he’s going to have ups and downs and he was left out last week because he’s adapting to training, to having the expectation of performing every day, that’s still new for him. You can’t have two or three days in a week where you don’t train well so it’s new. He worked very hard in the week that past us in terms of he didn’t travel to Sydney, he worked extremely hard on his game, on his conditioning, he knows he’s got to keep continuing doing that, so now it’s about keeping his feet on the ground. He has talent, talent alone will not be enough. He’s a good young boy, we love him at the Club and we’ll keep trying to help him get through the ups and downs that all young players have.”