Victory defence the difference

Melbourne's new defensive set-up has been hailed as one of the key reasons behind the club's Pre-Season Cup success after Victory eclipsed Wellington in a penalty shootout on Wednesday night.

Melbourne's new defensive set-up has been hailed as one of the key reasons behind the club's Pre-Season Cup success after Victory eclipsed Wellington in a penalty shootout on Wednesday night.

While it wasn't a classic final, it was certainly a classic finish with 18 spot kicks required to separate the two teams after the match finished 0-0 at the end of 90 minutes.

Goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos was the hero at the end, stopping Karl Dodd's spot kick to secure the year's first silverware.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick said Theoklitos was a vital cog of a new-look Victory defence which has now gone 270 minutes without conceding a goal.

"We've set up to change from last year when we conceded goals in the last five minutes. We are trying to keep cleansheets and that's three clean sheets in a row now," Merrick said.

"It's like Michael (Thwaite) and Rody (Vargas) have been together for a long while in the centre back roles. Sebastian Ryall has always been happy to fill in and do a good job. The two wing backs, Kempy and Evan Berger did a job for us, Evan and Kempy were both out on their feet, they haven't missed a minute of the pre-season."

"I think we really need a bit more experience, and that's where Kevin Muscat comes in, but Michael Thwaite has been a great signing for us."

Merrick said his players had shown true grit to prevail as champions of a tournament which has seen them travel to Launceston, Perth, Port Macquarie and Wellington in the space of three weeks.

"To be fair to the boys, that is the fourth away game in a row and the travelling has been tough. They boys were drained tonight. We've been talking about pushing things through and working hard and keeping our intensity up," he said.

"It's been a perfect preparation for the A-League season and to get to the final, which the boys set themselves the challenge of winning, and to do the job, it sets us up well for the A-League season."

Merrick admitted that Wednesday night's match was far from the Victory's best display, but that the determination to kick the season off on a high note, plus some great reflexes from Theoklitos, had seen them through.

"When your goalkeeper was one of your best players and your other two were Michael Thwaite and Rody Vargas, you know that you haven't played your best football," he said.

"But sometimes you play a game like that, not at your best, and you come away with a win, you think well, and knowing that you've got Muscat, Brebner Thompson, Celeski etc you know that you are going to add to that squad. That gives you confidence."