Melbourne Victory have all but claimed the 2014-15 Premier's Plate after a 1-0 win over Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
Mark Milligan’s penalty on the stroke of half time moved Kevin Muscat’s men three points of clear of Sydney FC, who alongside Wellington Phoenix remain only a mathematical shot at the premiership in the final round.
Roar fielded several young players in their starting eleven as the reigning champions suffered a second straight defeat to Victory in a matter of days.
WHAT THEY SAID
"It's been a long time (since our last trophy) but it's still not mathematically done. It's sweet at the moment and we'll take it one game at a time." - Melbourne Victory's Leigh Broxham
"It was a young team tonight, it's a glimpse to the future and all the boys dug really deep. I think they can be proud of themselves." - Brisbane Roar's Daniel Bowles
0-1 Milligan (45’+2) – Ben Williams’ awarding of the penalty might have been questioned but the skipper’s finish was not as he sidefooted past Jamie Young.
Mark Milligan’s penalty seconds before the break proved decisive both in the context of the match and the Hyundai A-League premiership race.
The home fans at Suncorp Stadium loudly protested but it mattered little as the Socceroos midfielder coolly stroked the opener into the bottom corner.
The former Sydney FC man’s goal is likely to be remembered as the one which ended his former side’s slim hopes of snatching the title.
Though they did test the woodwork twice in the first half, it took 95 minutes for Brisbane Roar to register their lone shot target for the night.
Kevin Muscat heaped praise on his defence after Wednesday night’s effort and the Victory coach will be similarly pleased with his side’s professionalism against an inexperienced Roar outfit.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Frans Thijssen rotated heavily ahead of his side’s midweek AFC Champions League trip to China but, regardless of the fresh faces on show, Roar failed to truly test Victory’s defence over their double header.
The Brisbane boss will need to identify his preferred front three for the Finals Series after going without Brandon Borrello for the past two matches.
THE FINAL WORD
Only an unthinkable implosion can keep Melbourne Victory from claiming its third Hyundai A-League premiership against Central Coast Mariners next Sunday.
Their task was simplified as Brisbane Roar named an inexperienced side for the second of the teams’ two consecutive clashes, from which Victory recorded maximum points.
Brisbane Roar: Young (gk), Bowles, Jackson (Pavlou 83’), North (Polenz 46’), Theodore (Yango 72’), Sarota, Lambadaridis, Lustica, Petratos, Solorzano, Brady.
Melbourne Victory: Thomas (gk), Broxham, Ansell, Delpierre, Georgievski, Milligan, Mahazi (Thompson 64’), Valeri, Barbarouses (Finkler 64’), Berisha, Ben Khalfallah.
Scorers: Milligan 45’+2
Red Cards: Nil
Yellow Cards: Delpierre 6’, Lustica 25’, Ansell 44’, Yango 79’, Broxham 88’, Berisha 88’, Thompson 90’
Conditions: Dry and perfect for football