Popovic confident the wins are on their way

The good news for Melbourne Victory is that they haven’t lost in their last six games. The slightly less good news is that they haven’t won a game in their last four. Coach Tony Popovic, however, is confident that his side is playing in a manner that will eventually turn their run of consecutive draws back into wins.

Taking the lead in the 91st minute through Jason Davidson, 10-man Victory appeared set to record a much-needed win against a visiting Western Sydney Wanderers.

A late handball against central defender Brendan Hamill, however, served to hand Wanderers a late, late spot-kick that was duly dispatched by Steven Urgakovic to ensure the spoils would be shared for the fourth-straight time in a Victory match.

Popovic would express his frustration following the game that the VAR process that awarded the spot-kick hadn’t also been used to review a potential offside that he felt had been evident in the build-up, although official league outlet KEEPUP would later release audio of the review showing that it had, in fact, been checked.

The draw meant that Victory’s last win in a competitive A-League Men (ALM) fixture remains a 3-1 triumph over Macarthur FC back on March 4th but speaking to media ahead of his side’s trip to face Adelaide United on Saturday, Popovic remained phlegmatic.

“We won two consecutive games and now we’ve had four consecutive draws; it’s six games that we’ve played well in,” he said.

“Of course, we would have liked a few more wins. We have to believe that if we keep playing well and creating those opportunities and limiting the opponent to very little the results will go in our favour.

“We know what’s waiting for us tomorrow. We know Adelaide is a team that you really have to earn your points against and they’re a team that goes to the 95th minute and beyond. They’re always in the game and their fans get behind them.”

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One of the fiercest rivalries in Australian football, Victory remains unbeaten against Adelaide under Popovic; knocking them out of the FFA Cup, defeating them at Coopers Stadium in round four and drawing 1-1 at home in round seven.

Craig Goodwin netted a 91st-minute equaliser in that draw at AAMI Park, and stopping him will be a key focus for Popovic and his side heading into their fourth match of the campaign.

“Maybe we’ve just got to try and stop the supply to him,” Victory’s coach said.

“We know when he’s got the ball in good areas he’s very dangerous. Set pieces he’s very dangerous. That’s what you expect from a good player.

“We’re happy that we’re coming up against him and hopefully, we can give him some problems going the other way that will limit his opportunities.”

Though set to be absent Roderick Miranda after the Portuguese defender picked up a late red card against Wanderers, Victory will welcome back Mat Spiranovic for the trip to South Australia. Newly minuted Socceroos pair Nick D’Agostino and Ben Folami returned to Australia on Thursday evening and it is hoped that they will also make the trip.

The side will also be without Matt Acton after the goalkeeper suffered an avulsion fracture in his first league start of the season. It means that Ivan Keleva will once again start for Victory, academy prospect Marko Bulic to be the back-up, and the club is now in the process of looking for an injury replacement keeper

“We’re obviously out there looking to see who is available, who we can get,” Popovic explained.

“It’s not as simple as just plucking a keeper out. We’ve got JD [director of football John Didulica] looking, Peter [Zoïs, Victory’s goalkeeping coach] is looking and talking to various clubs.

“We’re trying to bring someone in, yes.”

Enjoying Joey’s coverage of Australian sport? Your support helps keep it possible.
You’re seeing this advert because this is an unpaid, self-published piece.

You can support his ongoing work by buying him a coffee: https://ko-fi.com/joeylynchy 

Header Image Credit: Melbourne Victory/Chris Gospel

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