Victory on track

Sunday, 4 September 2011 2:09 PM

Victory on track

The result wasn't quite what he was after but Melbourne Victory coach Mehmet Durakovic says Sunday's 1-0 friendly defeat to Gold Coast United at Owen Park was the perfect opportunity to blow out some cobwebs.

A first-half strike from Gold Coast livewire James Brown was all that separated the two sides, though United looked by far the more settled and dangerous team on the back of a longer, more arduous pre-season.

Brown scored in the 17th minute courtesy of a fortunate deflection on a cutback from Peter Jungschlager, giving him time and space in the box to put the only goal of the afternoon past Victory stopper Tando Velaphi.

But the afternoon had served its purpose for Durakovic, who rested Marco Rojas, Isaka Cernak, Diogo Ferreira while marquee man Harry Kewell is expected to arrive at his new club next week.

"We just want to see how the players go in different positions and just test each other out. That's what these pre-season games are all about, trying to get our fitness and match structure right," he said.

"So far, I'm happy. The way we played today I was quite happy. Things didn't go our way to hit the ball into the back of the net but that will come."

"We're gradually getting better and better and we'll be okay in about four weeks time, I think."

On a sour note for Victory, Velaphi was taken to hospital after a collision with new Gold Coast striker Maceo Rigters, putting him in doubt for next Sunday's clash with Brisbane in Tasmania.

With Rigters' very first touch after he was brought on midway through the second half, the Dutchman went in hard on a half-chance in the box that Velaphi had already collected and caught him with a boot to the head.

Bleeding profusely, Velaphi was immediately withdrawn and his understudy, trialist Lawrence Thomas, was given his chance to push his claims to become his permanent number two.

"He's concussed. He's got a huge cut just above his eye. They're just taking him to the hospital now," Durakovic said.

"Apparently he didn't know where he was. I thought it was a bit late, to be honest. They're all friendly games and we want to be playing in the right spirit but that's football for you."

Thomas was one of three players given an opportunity on Sunday to showcase their claims for a full-time contract, along with former Chelsea defender Jon Harley and Brazilian Fabio.

But Durakovic said after 45 minutes apiece, the race for the left-back position was still a dead heat.

"They did okay. They only had half a game each. I was quite impressed for both of them, to be fair," he said.

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