Victory to be minus key defenders v Syd FC
Ange Postecoglou has demanded Melbourne Victory show more resilience on the road, while they need to cope immediately with a double defensive blow ahead of Saturday night's A-League 'Big Blue' in Sydney.
The third-placed Victory, hampered by a poor away record this season, will definitely be without suspended skipper Adrian Leijer while left fullback Adama Traore is in grave doubt with an ankle injury.
Traore is given little chance of playing a resurgent Sydney FC after being the victim of a dangerous challenge from behind by Ivan Franjic in Melbourne's 1-1 draw with Brisbane Roar on Saturday night.
Coach Postecoglou was breathing easier on Sunday when X-rays showed no fracture but it's almost certain he'll lose the two most-experienced members of his back four for the Big Blue.
An eighth yellow card for the season to Leijer, for cynically bringing down danger man Ben Halloran late in the match, means the central defender will automatically miss the game.
The draw in Brisbane means Melbourne enter the last three rounds of the season five points behind second-placed Central Coast, upset by the Sky Blues 2-0, and will almost certainly face an away semi-final to make the A-League decider.
Their record away from Victoria has been a disappointment for the two-time champion club with three wins, six losses and a draw from 10 matches on the road.
In comparison, they have nine wins, two losses and three draws in 14 matches in Melbourne.
"We need to be a little bit more resilient away from home and that's always a challenge," Postecoglou said.
"Our away form has been patchy at best.
"Going into this finals stretch, it's very important we are very consistent with our approach and performances so - whether it is home or away - we put up a good show and be hard to beat."
Postecoglou felt there were good signs of that at Suncorp Stadium against his old club, suggesting they should hit the finals with momentum.
The Victory were seemingly in control at 1-0 up, thanks to Leigh Broxham's first headed goal approaching the hour mark, before Franjic punished them for a soft turnover.
Full of running on a boggy pitch, Brisbane finished over the top of the visitors but couldn't nail the second goal which would have jetted them to fifth on the table.
The defending champions sit one point behind Sydney FC and Newcastle however coach Mike Mulvey also believes his side is on the up ahead of a tricky run home against Central Coast (away), Melbourne Heart (home) and Sydney (home).
Franjic's goal, from a superb Luke Brattan pass, has justified his switch from fullback to the wing, giving the Roar an attacking threat on the right side as well as the left where Thomas Broich and Shane Stefanutto combine.