Merrick lauds Fabiano

Melbourne Victory star Archie Thompson may have headed home the winner in a dream comeback from suspension, but it was the return of another ill-disciplined striker which had coach Ernie Merrick grinning after the Victory's 1-0 win over the Queensland Roar.

Melbourne Victory star Archie Thompson may have headed home the winner in a dream comeback from suspension, but it was the return of another ill-disciplined striker which had coach Ernie Merrick grinning after the Victory's 1-0 win over the Queensland Roar.

Ney Fabiano made headlines for all the wrong reasons two months ago when he was sent off for spitting at Adelaide defender Robbie Cornthwaite after an altercation.

The Brazilian was slapped with a six-match ban and drew widespread condemnation for his actions, but Merrick was full of acclaim after Fabiano's return to the Hyundai A-League, suggesting his presence lifted the side.

"Ney Fabiano, despite what he was charged with and suspended for, I'm telling you he's a really good person, he's a good bloke to have around the team," Merrick said.

"He's one of those import players that have come in and he's just adjusted to the culture and he just laughs at training all the time."

"When you have that ability to all relate so well to each other socially, I think it carries into the football world, this year we've got some really good mateship in the team."

Fabiano looked likely to score on a number of occasions throughout the game and reunited well up front with Thompson and Danny Allsopp.

Merrick paid tribute to the way his strike force was able to gel so well after Thompson and Fabiano's imposed time on the sidelines.

"To see Archie, Ney Fabiano, and Dan link-up so well together, after it-s nearly been six weeks since they-ve been together was great," Merrick said.

The win sees the Victory skip clear to outright top position on the ladder at the halfway point of the 2008/09 season with 20 points, but Merrick was not about to be drawn into making any major predictions, stating his side was on 'track to be in the finals'.

"It was so important for us to get another win after the Adelaide win to really make sure we are right on track and building up the momentum."

"(It was good) to get six points from two games on the road, and two clean sheets."

Merrick saw half time as the turning point of the match.

"Queensland gave us a tough time of it in the first half, they closed everything down, tried to stop our inter-passing, but we came out in the second half and the lead up to the goal was good."

"Billy (Celeski) hit the post, but we were playing really good football and we killed the game off in the last 10 minutes."

"The Roar to their credit gave us a really tough match, I think there are a lot of sore bodies in both teams and fortunately we've got a two-week break before the next game."

Thompson believed he had served his time and was simply 'happy to be back'.

"I was obviously very tired after two weeks off, but our physical trainer has been working us hard the last two weeks so I was happy to get through the game," he said.

"We knew that they were going to come out and be strong because they needed the home win, but we stuck to our guns and played well and we deserved the three points."

"Obviously the first half was very even and we knew that we had to come out stronger and I think we did and once we got the goal I didn't think we were going to concede."