Melbourne Victory's Besart Berisha handed two-week A-League ban
Melbourne Victory will need to resort to Plan B for a fortnight, with striker Besart Berisha being handed a two-match ban for manhandling a fourth official.
The Kosovo international will miss Sunday's away match with Central Coast and the marquee home tie against Western Sydney on Melbourne Cup eve.
Berisha was found guilty of unsporting conduct toward a match official after tangling with Daniel Elder in Friday night's 2-2 draw with Adelaide United.
Victory have decided to accept the verdict and will not appeal.
But, Berisha could yet serve a longer ban, with another two matches suspended on the provision he does not commit a similar offence before the end of the season.
Berisha's absence, confirmed by a tribunal convened on Thursday night in Sydney, is a major blow to Victory's ambitions for the season.
Coach Kevin Muscat doesn't have an experienced like-for-like replacement for the 32-year-old in his squad, and will have to make do for the next two matches.
Against the Mariners, he could shift Kosta Barbarouses, James Troisi or Leroy George into the role, or debut untried striker Pierce Waring.
A week later, he will also be without Barbarouses and Troisi -- who have been called up for national team duty.
Compounding matters, Victory have picked up just one point in their opening three games.
Muscat's men have played their three biggest rivals in the opening three rounds, losing to Sydney FC and Melbourne City.
Berisha was among the scorers in Friday's draw before his costly encounter.
Despite the tribunal's verdict, Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas said his teammates wouldn't allow it to affect their fortunes.
Speaking earlier on Thursday, Thomas said the club had enough quality to move up the table.
"We've got a lot of quality in this team, especially up front," he said. "Obviously, we want him in our team but, if it's not to be, we're more than capable of getting the job done."
Despite their poor opening to the season, Thomas said Victory's class would eventually tell.
"People don't get to play for this club because you're lucky. If you're here, it's because you have quality," he said.
"[We need] to go out there and transfer that tactically into what we want to do ... to get back to dictating games and being dominant all over.
"Overall as a team, we take responsibility to control games better, take chances better and defend better.
"In no way, shape or form is this a hole we're stuck in at all."