Victory moves clear on top

Archie Thompson has marked his return from suspension with the winner as Melbourne Victory prevailed 1-0 and continued Queensland Roar’s miserable 2008/09 Hyundai A-League home record at a wet Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Archie Thompson has marked his return from suspension with the winner as Melbourne Victory prevailed 1-0 and continued Queensland Roar’s miserable 2008/09 Hyundai A-League home record at a wet Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Thompson earned Victory a deserved lead and then all three points as it strengthened its grip on top place, moving three points clear of Adelaide United – which has a game in hand – four ahead of Sydney FC and five clear of the Roar.

Queensland had taken just one point from four games at Suncorp this season, losing to the Mariners, Jets and Reds after drawing 1-1 with Adelaide in Round 2, and that disappointing run was maintained.

The first half was an end-to-end affair with both teams having their chances and both attacking and counter-attacking at will but neither was able to score as goalkeepers Liam Reddy and Michael Theoklitos were called into action several times.

The second half began in similar fashion but as it wore on Victory lifted and got on top and was duly rewarded 20 minutes from time when front men Danny Allsopp and Thompson were both involved as the latter broke the deadlock.

Also back from suspension, Ney Fabiano’s first-half header was only denied by the bar in the first half, while last week’s hero in the road win against Adelaide United, Billy Celeski, had a second-half effort come back off the right post.

After several half chances to each team that went begging with shots blasted either well wide or over the bar, the first real chance of the game fell to Fabiano in the 18th minute when he managed a free header from a corner.

Fabiano’s shot was blocked as far as the edge of the box where it was headed back in but Thompson was caught offside as Allsopp ran onto the ball and put it past Reddy.

Within seconds at the other end Sergio van Dijk’s stinging shot from 25m was parried by a diving Theoklitos, who was then forced to watch as Rody Vargas was on hand to deny Matt McKay’s follow-up attempt.

Two minutes later and a one-two between Matthew Kemp and Allsopp put Kemp through but as he shaped to shoot Josh McCloughan was perfectly placed to force the ball behind for a corner.

Just before the half-hour mark the Roar lost defender Danny Tiatto, who had picked up an earlier yellow card for a two-footed challenge on Allsopp, to a leg injury, with David Dodd taking his place.

In the 33rd minute McKay fired a long shot and it took a deflection off Michael Thwaite, with Vargas again saving the day as Theoklitos scrambled for the ball, and two minutes later Massimo Murdocca went down in the box against Thwaite but the referee called play on.

From the next play Victory attacked and were only denied by a header from Moore, with Kemp’s corner finding Fabiano, whose header into the ground had Reddy beaten but came back off the underside of the bar.

A cross from Thompson in the 37th minute forced a solid save from Reddy, and Reddy again had to be on his toes minutes before the break when Allsopp shot straight at him, while Fabiano had another free header just before the break but couldn’t beat Reddy.

Almost 10 minutes after the resumption Nick Ward’s wayward first touch seconds after he’d come in and been played through by Fabiano meant Thompson was offside when Ward crossed to him.

And after being brought down by Moore in the 62nd minute Fabiano took his own free kick and forced a full-length diving save from Reddy, who tipped the ball past his left post.

The pressure continued to build and Celeski struck the post in the 69th minute before a minute later his corner to the near post was headed on by Allsopp to an unmarked Thompson at the back post and the Socceroos striker made no mistake with his header.

Just two minutes after the goal van Dijk had the chance to equalise at the near post from Murdocca’s cross but he only managed to get a toe to the ball under pressure from Muscat.

Having taken off Matthew Kemp for Ward, coach Ernie Merrick made further changes by bringing on Jose Luis Lopez for Tom Pondeljak and Leigh Broxham for Fabiano, while the hosts replaced Tim Smits with Michael Zullo and Andrew Packer with Adam Sarota.

Ten minutes before time Zullo made a strong run down the left and into the area but with Muscat lurking in the heart of the box decided to go solo rather than cut it back and missed with his shot.

Queensland had one last chance in the dying seconds of stoppage time when Celeski gave away a free kick for handball about 25m out on the left but Charlie Miller’s attempt to play the ball into the area came unstuck as Victory took the points.

Queensland Roar 0
Melbourne Victory 1 (Thompson 70′)
Saturday, 8 November 2008
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Peter O’Leary
Crowd: 12,022

Queensland Roar: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 2. Andrew PACKER (25. Adam SAROTA 80′), 4.Craig MOORE (c), 5. Josh McCLOUGHAN, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK, 10. Charlie MILLER, 15. Matt McKAY, 18. Danny TIATTO (6. David DODD 29′), 23. Tim SMITS (7.Michael ZULLO 58′), 24. Matt MUNDY
Substitutes not used: Griffin McMASTER (gk)
Yellow cards: Danny TIATTO (11′), David DODD (48′)
Red cards: Nil

Melbourne Victory: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3. Michael THWAITE, 7. Matthew KEMP (22. Nick WARD 54′), 8. Grant BREBNER, 9. Danny ALLSOPP, 10. Archie THOMPSON, 11. NEY FABIANO (18. Leigh BROXHAM 81′), 12. Rodrigo VARGAS, 14. Billy CELESKI, 15. Tom PONDELJAK (17. Jose Luis LOPEZ 76′)
Substitutes not used: 20. Mitchell LANGERAK (gk)
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil