Merrick: Mental strength the key

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick has put down Victory's come-from-behind 3-1 win over Newcastle to mental strength and the class of key players Archie Thompson and Carlos Hernandez.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick has put down Victory's come-from-behind 3-1 win over Newcastle to mental strength and the class of key players Archie Thompson and Carlos Hernandez.

Newcastle looked in control of the match in the first half and deservedly held a 1-0 lead after Labinot Haliti's strike in the 22nd minute.

But Merrick changed the structure of the Victory attack at half-time bringing on Mate Dugandzic for Ney Fabiano and pushing Thompson up front on his own with Hernandez in behind.

The move paid dividends as Thompson and Hernandez combined to score the equaliser out of nothing when the Costa Rican put Thompson into space behind the Newcastle defence with a sublime chip kick.

The striker finished off the move by lobbing Ben Kennedy to level the scores.

The goal swung the momentum in Melbourne's favour and Tom Pondeljak put the Victory in the lead when he was first to pounce on the scraps after Hernandez's 35-yard thunderbolt cannoned off the crossbar.

Hernandez grabbed Melbourne's third as Newcastle chased a draw only to expose itself at the back.

"I couldn't care less if we deserved them or not we got them that is all I care about," Merrick said of the three points after the match.

"The first half I thought Newcastle had the greater share of possession and I didn't think they had really good shots we probably matched them."

"But they took their goal well."

"We made a couple of structural changes in the second half and I think we gradually took over the game more and more. We kept possession well and scored three good goals."

"Both fullbacks were causing us problems with (Matt) Thompson (and Tarek) Elrich and we had been playing Archie up beside 'Fabby' (Ney Fabiano) so we put Tommy (Pondlejak) on the left ad Mate on the left just to shut down the fullbacks straight away."

"And because they both have enormous pace as well as Archie, the interchange between the three of them was terrific. It also gave a lot of room for Carlos who started knocking the ball around really well."

"I thought Archie took his goal well. I thought Carlos was outstanding. He had a hand in every goal. He set up Archie for the first one, Tommy for the second one and he finished one himself so he was outstanding."

"I thought young Mate Dugandzic was good for us, the backline was solid. Grant Brebner did well for us in the midfield."

"But it was the mental strength that enabled us to come through in the second half which was very important after last week's defeat."

Newcastle coach Branko Culina praised his players but admitted his team played without luck and paid the penalty for a momentary lapse in concentration.

"I thought the players that were there were played brilliantly - they were superb, they just lacked concentration at vital moments," he said.

"We allowed ourselves to make a silly mistake - it was not even a mistake - how many times have we said it? Archie is very quick, don't give him an inch of space, make sure you are tight, one in behind, one in front - we had three around him and he still managed to get away."

"And then he showed good vision to see our keeper was in no man's land and he lobbed him. You need classy players like Archie in every team."

"You look at the games of (Ben) Kantarovski and (Nikolai) Topor-Stanley over 90 minutes and they were brilliant for 89 minutes. One minute they let themselves go and lost focus and we get punished. And unfortunately for us at the moment we are being punished for every mistake we make."