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Jan, 10, 2010

Beleaguered Victory keen for home match

He's not using it an excuse for Sunday's tepid display against Newcastle but Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick can't wait to enjoy some home comforts.

The Victory's season has stalled during a run where they've played just one home match from their past five A-League fixtures, culminating in the 3-2 loss to a ten-man Jets outfit at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

That defeat, along with a 1-0 loss to North Queensland in Townsville on December 27, has allowed Gold Coast United to cut the margin between them and second-placed Melbourne to just one point.

But with their next three fixtures being back at Etihad Stadium, Merrick is hoping the end of their wandering ways will revitalise the Victory.

"In our last five matches we've only had one at home and it's starting to show," he said.

"The travelling and the weather certainly played their part but our performance was way below par.

"I'm not blaming anything, Newcastle was the better team, but there's no doubt playing away from home and travelling a lot has been tough.

"That's our 11th game on the road and we've only lost three, so overall we've handled it quite well but in our last five we've only had one home game so the boost for us is to look forward to playing three games at home."

Merrick defended Costa Rican import Marvin Angulo, who failed to make much of an impression in his A-League debut against the Jets before being substituted at halftime for Grant Brebner.

But the Scot had less patience for fullback Matthew Kemp, who will miss Saturday's visit by Perth and possibly further matches after failing to inform the coaching staff of a hamstring injury during the Jets match.

"We kept saying to Kempy, `let us know', because he was worried about his hamstring and he didn't let us know and finished up tearing it I think," Merrick said.

"It's pretty disappointing but he was determined to stay on the pitch and now it's going to cost the whole team because he's stayed on.

"Last match he was vomiting but never told us, we discovered that afterwards.

"So on one hand you want boys to be tough and get up and get out there, but they can't do a job for us if they're suspended or injured because of it. It just lets you down a little bit."

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