Friday, January 29, 2010

Gold Coast beat Melbourne and go level on points with A-League leaders

Photos (Top to Bottom): Melbourne Victory's Matthew Kemp at a coaching clinic with Collegiate girls in Hobart; Evan Berger came on as a substitute for Victory; Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick thought it was a stalemate until a brilliant goal settled the issue [PlessPix]

Third-placed Gold Coast United drew level on 44 points with A-League leaders Melbourne Victory last night when the Queenslanders beat the visiting Victorians 1-0 at Skilled Park.

Melbourne’s far better goal-difference keeps them on top, while Sydney FC are now third, two points behind the leading pair.

The match did not reach great heights, although a brilliant strike in the 76th minute by Zenon Caravella won the match for Gold Coast.

It was Caravella’s first A-League goal and he was booked as he took off his shirt in celebration of the occasion.

The first half was very physical and Gold Coast’s Steve Pantelidis was lucky not to see red after an off-the-ball incident with Robbie Kruse, which saw the Melbourne striker unable to continue.

Pantelidis had earlier collected his 12th yellow card of the season.

Melbourne’s Kevin Muscat was also lucky to stay on the park after an elbow to the side of Jason Culina’s head.

Six yellow cards were eventually issued - three to each side.

Melbourne were without striker Archie Thompson, who failed a fitness test before the match.

“I never saw either incident so I won’t make any comment on it,” said Melbourne coach, Ernie Merrick, after the match.

“It [the game] was pretty well a stalemate. Neither side had really clear-cut chances. In the end it was the Caravella striker that was the difference between the two teams.

“We did struggle up front. We fitness-tested Archie [Thompson] this afternoon and there was no way he could play. He was pretty keen to play, but he couldn’t, and when we lost our second striker, we really struggled up front.

“But, we did our job and, I think, in the end fatigue really got to us, but I thought we were heading to a draw.”

Gold Coast coach, Miron Bleiberg, said: “The ugly horse is still going on.

“You’ve got two thoroughbreds like Sydney and Melbourne and then you’ve got the grey ugly horse and we’re still there.”

The attendance was 7,249.

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