Victory secure finals berth

Melbourne Victory have sewn up a spot in the Hyundai A-League finals series with a 2-0 win over Newcastle at Etihad Stadium, a result which deals a further blow to the Jets' playoff ambitions.

Melbourne Victory have sewn up a spot in the Hyundai A-League finals series with a 2-0 win over Newcastle at Etihad Stadium, a result which deals a further blow to the Jets' playoff ambitions.

Veteran midfielder Tom Pondeljak scored a rare goal 57 minutes in, bending a shot over the goalkeeper with the outside of his boot before Robbie Kruse marked his return from Qantas Socceroos duties with a well-taken effort 13 minutes later.

Newcastle, who have now lost seven of their last nine matches and four in a row, had Italian Marcello Fiorentini sent off just after the hour for a kick out at Marvin Angulo. The Jets find themselves four points adrift of sixth-placed Wellington with just two matches to go.

Victory's third win in the space of seven days secures their spot in the finals with one match remaining and strengthens their push for fourth place, which means they would host a final on the opening week. Gold Coast are the other team in the battle for that spot, but they have games in hand over Melbourne, who play their final game against Adelaide on Friday week.

While it wasn't their most-polished performance, it was a win achieved without their two most experienced midfielders in Grant Brebner and Carlos Hernandez as well as first-team regulars Archie Thompson, Surat Sukha and Billy Celeski along with suspended captain Kevin Muscat.

Danny Allsopp continued his impressive return to the Hyundai A-League and was only denied yet another goal by some fine goalkeeping from Ben Kennedy in the first half, while Adrian Leijer relished being given more responsibility in a midfield role in Brebner's absence.

Allsopp had the first decent chance of the match, when his 15th-minute effort was well blocked by Kennedy. A minute later Jeremy Brockie forced a superb diving save from Michael Petkovic from a free kick. That would prove a decisive near miss for the Jets, who wouldn't get that close to scoring again.

Melbourne were creating the better chances in attack and after Angulo put a shot over the bar, Allsopp stripped Tarek Elrich of the ball, turned and forced another good save from Kennedy.

Kennedy was also there to deny Dugandzic on the angle on 23 minutes, while Diogo Ferreira shot over late in the half.

The Jets' other chance of the first half fell to Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who rose best from a corner, but could only head over the bar.

The home side continued to pile on the pressure after the break and young Jet Sam Gallaway nearly put the ball into his own net.

On 54 minutes, Dugandzic created the opening for Pondeljak's goal. Receiving the ball from Kemp, the young midfielder went on a mazy run on the edge of the box before laying off to Pondeljak, who cleverly lobbed the keeper with a shot on the outside of his right boot.

Shortly after, Allsopp had another chance to score, only to be denied by Kennedy, before Fiorentini's petulant kick on Angulo left Strebre Delovski no option but to send him off, leaving his side with 10 men for the final half an hour.

The Jets' uphill task became a mountain on 69 minutes, when Petkovic's quick release found Angulo on the left. The Costa Rican hit a brilliant pass in the path of Kruse, who finished well on his left foot.

Both sides had half chances to add to the scoreline in the final 20 minutes, with Matthew Foschini coming closest with a shot that Kennedy fumbled onto the goalpost.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Pondeljak 57, Kruse 70) Newcastle Jets 0 Crowd: 11,296 at Etihad Stadium