Victory complete Reds hat-trick

Melbourne has taken a significant step towards securing the Hyundai A-League premiership with a 1-0 win over Adelaide United in the top-of-the-table clash at Telstra Dome.

Melbourne has taken a significant step towards securing the Hyundai A-League premiership with a 1-0 win over Adelaide United in the top-of-the-table clash at Telstra Dome.

The rescheduled Round 15 clash was settled by Nick Ward's powerful header just before the hour and the result sees Melbourne go two points clear of Adelaide on top of the ladder with the Reds having one game in hand.

The win completes a clean sweep for Melbourne in the matches between the teams this year and gives the Victory a psychological edge heading into any prospective finals clash between the two teams in February.

Melbourne was the dominant side early in a high-tempo game with no less than six players having shots at goal in the first 20 minutes. Danny Allsopp, Ward and Matthew Kemp had the best of them, but all three were driven straight at Eugene Galekovic.

Cassio conjured Adelaide's first serious chance of the match, turning sharply to hit a shot which flicked the outside of the post on 21 minutes. Adelaide then suffered a blow with Kristian Sarkies injured and replaced by Alemao.

The sides would go to the half scoreless but only after Sasa Ognenovski intervened with a superb tackle shortly before the interval to deny Billy Celeski, who had already beaten three Adelaide defenders and Galekovic then got down low to stop Allsopp's effort.

Early in the second half, Robert Cornthwaite was booked for a foul on Tom Pondeljak and from the resultant free kick Carlos Hernandez forced an excellent save from the Reds' stopper.

The momentum was going all Melbourne's way and on 58 minutes Celeski's well-taken corner found Ward all alone. He made no mistake with his header for his second goal in three games.

Sparked into action, Adelaide could have had an equaliser three minutes later when Cristiano's close-range shot was well-blocked by an advancing Michael Theoklitos. It was to be the Brazilian's final act of the match, replaced by Robert Younis, while Melbourne sent on Grant Brebner for Hernandez.

Soon after, Ney Fabiano replaced Pondeljak as Melbourne took control of the tempo of the match, allowing Adelaide to only shoot from distance. Ognenovski and Allsopp were both booked after an incident in the 77th minute, while Younis was also cautioned soon after.

Content with its night's work, Melbourne looked comfortable against the long-range Adelaide attacks in the final minutes and was rewarded with a third-straight win and a foothold on top spot.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick said he was well-pleased with the result and his player's endeavour.

"Our boys were fired up for that. We were out of the blocks at 100 miles per hour and should have scored a couple of goals in the first half. We pressed all the way through the game…we persisted, but we got the result," he said.

Meanwhile Aurelio Vidmar was left to lament a below-par performance from his side.

"It was an extremely flat performance and it is not something we aspire to do, but it's happened tonight. In a nutshell, we need to get back to the basics and brush ourselves off and get ready for Friday night," he said.

Melbourne Victory 1 (Ward 58) Adelaide United 0 Crowd: 27,196 at Telstra Dome