Victory take a scoreless draw in Townsville
North Queensland Fury and Melbourne Victory have played out a scoreless draw at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday evening, in what was a much calmer contest than their clash at AAMI Park a month ago.
Both sides had their chances to score, but were unable to capitalize on any of them, with Chris Grossman spurning several chances for the Fury.
Both sides also had their fair amount of absentees, with Melbourne having Robbie Kruse and Kevin Muscat out with injury and Mate Dugandzic and Diego Ferreira on International Duty with the Olyroos whilst the Fury had Dyron Daal out with injury and Chris Payne and Isaka Cernak were also away with the Olympic team.
Melbourne were playing their third game in just six days and appeared to be severely suffering from fatigue. After defeating Brisbane last Sunday, and managing a goaless draw against Wellington mid-week, the Victory would be content with snatching a point in Townsville, taking five points from a possible nine.
North Queensland however hadn’t played a game since Round 5, after having a bye last week, and would have been rather dissapointed to only come away with a point at home against the Victory.
Fury assistant coach Stuart McLaren admitted his sides inablility to take their chances when they came, ultimately cost them the chance to defeat Melbourne.
“I wouldn’t say there was an awful lot of missed (opportunities) but at this level of the game and against a side of that level we don’t expect to get a plethora of chances and the ones you do get you have to take,” McLaren said.
“It was one of those things where we could have done a little bit better, a little bit more finesse, or make some slightly better decisions up front.
“Grossy (Chris Grossman) has proven in his time at the Roar youth team and even here that he can score.
“With him not having played the last couple of week and with his thigh injury he may have been out of rhythm, his timing was a bit off he didn’t make the clean connection.”
Victory manager Ernie Merrick praised his team, saying the players mentally prepared well for the match despite their busy week.
“It was a tough three matches and we have spoken about two aspects of physical fatigue and mental fatigue and I think the boys mentally really got themselves up,” he said.
“It was obvious fatigue when we are facing eight, nine set plays against us but yet the Fury didn’t look like they were going to score.
“The boys ground it out really well, our defence was terrific, our midfield was rock solid but that final pass was not going to work for us up front.”
A poor crowd of just 4,922 watched both teams generate numerous goal opportunities without avail, something the Fury know too well about so far this season.
North Queensland came closest to scoring early on, when Chris Grossman snatched at a shot in the 12th minute after he was one-on-one with Michael Petkovic. David Williams linked with Osama Malik, who’s clever backheel put Grossman into space. The former Roar mideiflder stumbled at the crucial moment, wasting a great opportunity.
It was to be the highlight of the game.
The Fury nearly scored again in the 27th minute when David Williams long range effort just sailed wide of the post.
Fury again had another great chance to take the lead, this time Chris Grossman’s shot was desperately headed away from goal by Rodrigo Vargas in the 30th minute.
Just three minutes later and it was the Victory who nearly took the lead when Tom Pondeljak’s strike forced a brilliant save from Fury keeper Justin Pasfield.
Victory’s best chance of the match came in the 36th minute when they won their first corner. Hernandez swung it in deep with Vargas’ header beating Pasfied, but Mark Hughes was in the right spot at the right time to clear it off the line.
From then on no real scoring opportunitues were created, until in the 56th minute when Ufuk Talay’s cracking shot from outside the box was fantastically saved by Michael Petkovic. The corner that followed saw Malik with a free header, but he wasn’t able to get it on target.
Towards the end of the game the Victory’s fatigue started to show, but the Fury still couldn’t capitalize on it with the game finishing 0-0 and Fury recording their first ever scoreless draw in the Hyundai A-League.
It also means that Melbourne are un-defeated in their last three games, with three clean sheets to go with it.
North Queensland now play Wellington Phoenix next Friday night at Westpac Stadium, and the Victory travel to Newcastle to take on the Jets on Saturday night.
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