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Jan 11, 2009

Victory coach sure of finals assault

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick insists his team is still well placed for a successful finals assault despite suffering yet another loss to a lower-ranked A-League side.

The Victory missed the chance to jump back to the top of the table with a 3-2 defeat to the Glory in Perth on Sunday night.

It continued Melbourne's miserable run against lowly opponents, especially on the road.

Six of the Victory's seven losses this season have come against teams currently outside of the top four, including two defeats in Perth and Newcastle.

But with home games against Central Coast and Wellington to round out the season, Merrick is confident his team can seal a top-two berth and the double finals chance that comes with it.

"We play particularly well at home," Merrick said.

"We've got two more home games ... it's very important we bounce back from this.

"We haven't travelled well, we've had a horrendous travelling year.

"We've been to New Zealand three times this year (including pre-season), Perth twice.

"That's like travelling to Russia about a dozen times.

"It didn't do us any favours.

"It wasn't a very good draw that we got but that's behind us.

"Moving forward it's two home games and then the finals.

"It will be terrific to finish in second spot to get the double chance and we are capable of doing that."

Merrick conceded that the loss to Perth all but ended his team's minor premiership hopes.

"I think it's a very difficult position to be in now," Merrick said.

"The ball is firmly in the court of Adelaide.

"They are a point ahead of us plus a game in hand, they are looking well.

"They can certainly slip up but I'm just saying that once you start relying on teams losing then you are not in a good position."

Melbourne will be without Matthew Kemp for Friday's clash with Wellington after the defender was red carded for two bookable offences against the Glory.

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