Merrick: Top two out of reach

Coach Ernie Merrick has conceded that Victory are all but out of the race for the top two following Thursday's draw with the Mariners but he insists his team remains a threat for this season's championship.

Coach Ernie Merrick has conceded that Victory are all but out of the race for the top two following Thursday's draw with the Mariners but he insists his team remains a threat for this season's championship.

Having twice won the premiership and championship in the same season, as well as losing last season's grand final to Sydney FC on penalties, Merrick said earlier this week that to have any chance of finishing top two his team simply had to beat the Mariners.

But after coming from behind with two goals in three minutes during the second half through strikes from Rody Vargas and Carlos Hernandez, a bizarre own goal in which Grant Brebner tried to clear off the line only for the ball to strike keeper Michael Petkovic and go in brought them undone.

And while they didn't pick up the three points and he doesn't think his men can now catch the high-flying Brisbane Roar or Adelaide United, who are second, Merrick is confident there is enough improvement left in his team to still claim a third title this season.

"It means we need to work harder to get three points more often," Merrick said of the failure to beat the third-placed Mariners who had far fewer genuine chances but made the most of them.

"I don't think we're going to finish in the top two (before) the finals but if we back up this performance continually now I think we've got a great chance of finishing third, fourth, fifth ... (and) I think the finals are there for the taking, now that we've shown how we can play."

Vargas, who would have been far happier being on the scoresheet than he was two weeks ago when his own goal gifted all three points to Gold Coast United at Etihad Stadium, echoed Merrick's thoughts about what can still be achieved.

"We are creating chances and at the other end we're scoring own goals and deflections (are going in)," Vargas said.

"But we've got the utmost confidence in the squad that if we keep on playing the way we have tonight, put in 90 minutes like that, we'll make finals and we'll give it a real good shake."

"I thought we put in a great effort tonight and ... it was just a bit unfortunate that a little bit of luck is not going our way but if we can keep on performing that way for the remainder of the year I'm very confident we'll make finals."

Buoying Merrick's mood after the game, four days after what he termed clearly Victory's worst effort of the campaign in the 3-1 away loss to Perth Glory, was that the home side continued to create chances throughout and very nearly grabbed a third goal with Robbie Kruse heading just wide.

"The boys were keen to do well and I thought played some outstanding football," Merrick added.

"We defended really well, we created numerous chances and our strikers although not 100 percent yet, I thought they really threatened the defence on every occasion the ball went forward."

"It's a bit disappointing we didn't get three points but it was so important we played like that for 90 minutes especially after going a goal down."