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Feb 19, 2012

Victory coach finds positives in loss

Finding positives has sometimes been a tough task for interim Melbourne Victory coach Jim Magilton.

But he insisted there were plenty to file away after their gripping 3-2 loss to Brisbane Roar as they prepared to scrap for a last gasp A-League finals berth.

The last time the teams met on New Year's Eve at Suncorp Stadium, the 3-1 win by the hosts sealed the fate of then Victory coach Mehmet Durakovic.

And the Roar did Magilton's long term employment chances no favours in the latest instalment on Saturday night by ensuring the Northern Irishman had just one win from seven games at the helm.

While the Victory's frustrating habit of failing to secure back-to-back wins continued, Magilton believed his side showed signs of what was needed to pull off a finals finish.

Stunned by a Besart Berisha goal 43 seconds into the game and trailing 3-1 by halftime, the Victory clawed their way back to reduce the damage to 3-2 in the 50th minute thanks to a brace from the inspirational Harry Kewell.

"Players showed a lot of character to get back into the game," Magilton said.

"We don't have a lot of time to break it all down and start again.

"We finished in a positive manner so that's a positive we have to take out of this game ahead of next round."

While Roar veteran Massimo Murdocca admitted he was surprised when Kewell was benched in the 76th minute as Brisbane looked vulnerable, Magilton defended his decision.

"He was spent. He had given us everything," he said.

"And we are going to need him next week."

As good as they looked on Saturday night, the Victory arrived at Suncorp Stadium in eighth spot and will need the stars to align to jag a finals finish.

Their run home isn't kind - while they next face last-placed Gold Coast away they then take on the feisty Newcastle (home), danger side Sydney FC (away), No.3 Wellington (home) and top four outfit Perth (away).

But at least Kewell now resembles the superstar that Victory fans wanted - and critics demanded - from the outset this season.

"I think people have been too critical of him this year," Murdocca said.

"There is a lot of pressure on him but he has been coming good the last month."

Victory goalkeeper Ante Covic was still wondering what might have been after the Berisha-inspired Roar held them out.

"It's very frustrating. In this game momentum means a lot and we haven't got any," he said.

"We are getting towards the end of the season, we are still there in the mix but we really need to build our performance up.

"We are running out of time to string those wins together - but we believe there is still a lot to play for."

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