Thursday 27 April 2017

Heart Stop Roar

A good Spot the Ball picture: Action in the Heart penalty area

Heart stop Roar: Melbourne Heart 1 Brisbane Roar 0

Roy Hay

Melbourne Heart’s winning sequence continued with a single goal victory over league leader Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon. Orlando Engelaar is still regaining full fitness but it is already clear that he was a superb choice as Heart’s marquee player in 2013–14. He showed coolness and skill in breaking up attacks and setting Heart moves going with close control in tight situations. Then with just over an hour gone he ghosted into the Roar penalty area to meet a low cross by Mate Dugandzic for the vital goal for his side.

The first half of this match was largely forgettable as both sides struggled to put together decisive attacks. The Roar had far more possession but the usual crispness and penetration of its play was missing. Heart’s moves broke down constantly with misplaced passes or slowness in releasing the ball while under pressure. So the two teams effectively negated each other though Iain Ramsay came closest for Heart early on after skinning Jade North only to find Michael Theo perfectly positioned to save his shot. Luke Brattan had one long-range effort but it was straight at Andrew Redmayne.

A good Spot the Ball picture: Action in the Heart penalty area

The tempo quickened in the second half and Matt McKay, who had a quiet game, did test the home keeper again, and then Heart finally made its breakthrough. Four minutes later David Williams got clear on the break but his shot was deflected for a corner kick, from which Patrick Kisnorbo tested Theo with a powerful header. A second corner kick led to an almighty scramble in the Brisbane penalty area and referee Adam Kersey picked out an indirect free kick. The ball was tapped to Engelaar but he could not force it through the advancing wall of defenders who poured off the goal line. Thomas Broich had looked to be the Roar’s greatest threat in attack and in 80 minutes he wriggled his way clear and curled the ball just wide of Redmayne’s goal. At the other end, Iain Ramsay’s last act was a run and shot saved by Theo before he was replaced by Ben Garrucio as Heart ran down the clock. Heart survived the four minutes of added time thanks in part to a saving tackle by Kisnorbo on Besart Berisha. Kisnorbo has been sent off more than once this season for lunging mistimed tackles, but he got this one right and saved the day for Heart which now moves closer to the top six and opens up the chase for the championship by inflicting its second defeat in succession on Brisbane Roar.

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