Ange Postecoglou’s Melbourne Victory were hoping for a successful performance against Mike Mulvey’s Brisbane Roar on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. With third place on the ladder seemingly locked up, the objective was for the team to gain ground on the Central Coast Mariners, who lost earlier in the weekend to Sydney FC.
A groin strain would prevent midfielder Marcos Flores from suiting up against the Roar. Meanwhile, defender Nick Ansell was back in training after he suffered a similar groin injury.
“We really need to get him training the whole week,” Postecoglou said on Friday to Damien Souness for melbournevictory.com.au. “It would be silly of us to try and rush people back at this stage. In terms of the injury I think he’s just about recovered, but we like to get them to train for a whole week and we know he’ll be absolutely tip-top for Sydney.
“Everyone else is really good, we’ve got a couple in rehab; (Gui) Finkler won’t feature but Nick Ansell is out running next week which will be great and making a late dash for the finals. The finish line is in sight and you want to be hitting that finishing tape with your chest out rather than crawling on your knees. Once we get to finals we’ll feel good about ourselves, so from our perspective it’s about looking forward.”
One player that would come into the first team firing was Connor Pain, who signed a professional contract with the Victory after leading the youth team to the National Youth League title.
“I went to most games. I went to every game and watched the guys,” Pain told Dejan Kalinic for melbournevictory.com.au. “It’s surreal a little bit that I’m actually on the same pitch as them.
“It’s a great achievement for me and I’ve been striving for it for a long time so I worked pretty hard. I’m over the moon. “I can’t describe how much (Postecoglou has helped me). The frequency of training and training with all the guys – it’s just the professionalism. It’s just taught me a new meaning of the game and I’ve learned a hell of a lot.”
“Connor’s performances in the Youth Team had been consistently good and you have to reward young players when they’re performing like that,” Postecoglou told reporters of the signing. “He’s played five games now and scored an impressive goal against Western Sydney and probably could’ve had a couple more, so we see him as a player with plenty of upside.
“He’s still got a fair bit to learn but he’s doing all the right things and he’s a player we’ll look to really develop over the next couple of seasons.”
Leigh Broxham scored for the Victory in the 11th minute, but a goal from Peter Franjic at the hour mark consigned Melbourne to a 1-1 draw with the Roar before a crowd of 12,624 at Suncorp.
Up next for the Victory is the Big Blue showdown with Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium in Sydney. Kickoff is scheduled for Mar. 16 at 7:45 p.m. AEDT and will be televised locally by Fox Sports 1.