Another tough weekend was awaiting Ange Postecoglou’s Melbourne Victory when they traveled up the road to Hunter Stadium to face the Newcastle Jets and their big-money playmaker Emile Heskey.
“It’s tough on the road playing in this competition,” Postecoglou told James Willoughby for melbournevictory.com.au on Thursday. “If you want to make some sort of impression on the league you have got to pick up points away from home. Newcastle in particular is always a tough game.
“I even felt when I was coaching Brisbane … we got a couple of results there but it was always a tough game, a scrappy game and it is always a battle.
“For us it is really important, particularly that we have already dropped one home game, that we start picking up some points on the road. If we can go there and get something out of that game, it will set us up well for the rest of the season.”
The game marked the debut of Melbourne goalkeeper Nathan Coe, a rookie with a huge upside to him. However, he and his Melbourne backline were ill-prepared to face Heskey and the Jets, as they fell 2-1 on the road.
And it wasn’t so much the Victory failing to capitalize on their chances as it was the Emile Heskey show, as the England veteran schooled the ball-watching Melbourne backline in the 53rd and 56th minutes of play.
No one was marking Heskey on either of those two goals, and the best teams in this league can mark the opposition’s top playmakers on any given day, whether it’s Heskey of the Jets or Alessandro Del Piero of Sydney FC.
Melbourne Victory, who did score thanks to Archie Thompson in the 71st minute of play, are going to have a very difficult time stopping the best teams in the A-League this season if all the defense does is sit back, watch and allow the top playmakers to get a look on goal and capitalize. They may not even make the postseason, either.
Next week, Melbourne Victory return home to host the Wellington Phoenix.