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Jan, 26, 2010

Thompson stokes fire under Gold Coast

Melbourne Victory striker Archie Thompson has sheeted home the pressure to Gold Coast United ahead of their virtual final in the A-League on Friday night.

Thompson says the third-placed Coast are the ones who should be feeling any finals-like nerves ahead of the Skilled Park showdown where Melbourne can secure a top two finish with a win.

The league-leading Victory are three points clear of Gold Coast with three matches remaining.

Their goal difference - helped by a 4-0 belting of Wellington on Tuesday - should be enough to see off second-placed Sydney or Gold Coast if they tie on points at season's end.

But Gold Coast must get at least a point from the match to give themselves realistic hope of a top two finish, a major semi-final berth and the second chance it brings in the playoffs.

Thompson, who has starred in Melbourne's past three wins and is in deadly form heading towards the finals, loves the big stage and was happy to throw a little fuel on Friday night's fire.

"If we get a good result, it puts pressure on the two that are chasing and hopefully cements a top two position which is what we want coming into the finals," said Thompson on Wednesday.

"There's probably more pressure on them (Gold Coast) than us because we're top of the table and they're three points behind us, and we can potentially go six points (clear).

"The pressure's on them and hopefully we can recover well and put in a good performance up there."

Victory coach Ernie Merrick admitted his squad had been structuring their training to peak at the business end of the season - perhaps explaining why the defending champions hit a flat spot in the Christmas-New Year period.

Since two disappointing defeats to North Queensland and Newcastle, the Victory have flicked the switch with wins over Perth, Adelaide and Wellington in the space of 10 days.

"There is a science called 'periodisation' and sometimes you pay a price for it, for example loading the boys up when they had a two-week break, two away performances that were lacklustre, and then you get the benefits from it later," Merrick said.

"You've got to get some fitness in the bank for when you need it."

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