Melbourne Heart 1 Adelaide United 3
Melbourne Heart’s winning streak came to an abrupt halt when Adelaide United scored a three-one win at AAMI Park in front of 8,272 fans on Wednesday afternoon.
That was the biggest home crowd for Heart since its first game in the A-League apart from the derbies against Victory.
Had the match been played later in the day it would probably have been even better.
Heart fielded an almost unchanged side, with only the injured skipper, Fred, missing, but that proved to be a vital absence.
John Kosmina’s Adelaide welcomed back Iain Ramsay and gave a start to sixeteen year old Jacob Melling, both of whom started on the bench.
After an initial Heart flurry, with some multiple passing moves, Adelaide assumed control of the game and took the lead in the 38th minute.
Simon Colosimo was exposed one-on-one with Bruce Djite and brought him down in the penalty area without making contact with the ball.
Sergio van Dijk planted the penalty kick.
Earlier Mate Dugandzic had been brought down near the bye-line by Francisco Usucar but no penalty was awarded.
That incident was a clear case for the official on the goal line which is used in the English Premier League and other competitions, since that person would have had a clear head-on view of the incident, whereas the central referee’s view was probably masked by Usucar and other players.
Colosimo injured his knee in the tackle on Djite and limped off in 41 minutes, with young Curtis Good taking his place.
Heart saw out the first half with no further alarms and Aziz Behich nearly equalized in injury time after skipping past two defenders, but as he said afterwards, ‘The ball got stuck between my feet,’ and his shot did not trouble Eugene Galekovic.
If Heart planned to make tactical switches at the interval, these were thrown into the waste basket when Zenon Caravella found Dario Vidosic who got the better of Brendan Hamill and squeezed the ball past Clint Bolton on three minutes after the restart.
David Williams came on for Rutger Worm and Alex Terra replaced Jason Hoffmann, but Adelaide countered with switches of its own replacing Djite, who was carrying an injury and playing in pain, according to John Kosmina, Caravella and Vidosic with Ramsay, Osama Malik and Melling.
Heart did have some good chances, with free kicks in dangerous areas, but Mate Dugandzic’s radar was not working, and Alex Terra’s looping header was just touched over by Galekovic at full stretch.
In 79 minutes van Dijk held off a challenge, turned and shot past Bolton to put the visitors three up in the 79th minute.
Heart kept plugging away and had its best spell since the opening period in the last ten minutes.
In the first minute of stoppage time, Eli Babalj still had a lot of work to do when Dugandzic and Behich combined to find him inside the penalty area.
The youngster dragged the ball back and created space for a shot into the near corner of the goal.
Two minutes later he might have had a second from a pass by Matt Thompson, but this time his shot was collected by Galekovic.
John van’t Schip said that Adelaide had taken control of the game after the opening period and, while Heart had created good openings earlier when it did not convert it allowed Adelaide back into contention.
‘We did not play well again until the last twenty minutes,’ he said.
The absence of skipper Fred was particularly significant when Heart went behind, since he is the originator of many of Heart’s attacking moves and also lifts the team by his example.
John Kosmina said he was delighted to be back working at the A-League level with players who were committed and willing to learn and work together.
Both he and Nigel Boogaard said it was critical that United stuck to its game plan, and like all coaches Kosmina stressed that getting the process right was essential if results were to follow.
He praised young Melling for his character, willingness to learn, hunger for the game and physical commitment.
This is definitely one to watch.
Youth is getting experience at Adelaide, as has been the case at Melbourne Heart, so the future is beginning to look at lot brighter for Australian teams.
Melbourne Heart 1 (Eli Babalj 90 + 1’) Adelaide United 3 (Sergio van Dijk 38’, 79’, Dario Vidosic 48’)
Venue: AAMI Park
Local kick-off: 3:15pm
Referees: Kris Griffiths-Jones
Assistant referees: Shaun Evans and George Lakrindis
Fourth official: Alex Azcurra
1.Clint Bolton, 2.Michael Marrone, 3.Brendan Hamill, 4. Simon Colosimo (18.Curtis Good 41’), 6.Matt Thompson, 7.Rutger Worm (15.David Williams 55’), 16.Aziz Behich, 17.Jason Hoffman (11.Alex Terra 63’), 19.Eli Babalj, 23.Mate Dugandzic, 25.Adrian Madaschi,
Unused substitutes: 30.Sebastian Mattei
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
1.Eugene Galekovic, 3.Nigel Boogaard, 5.Daniel Mullen, 7.Zenon Caravella (2.Osama Malik 71’), 9.Sergio van Dijk, 10.Dario Vidosic (15 Jacob Melling 77’), 11.Bruce Djite (17.Iain Ramsay 68’), 12.Antony Golec, 14.Cameron Watson, 18.Fabian Barbiero, 21.Francisco Usucar.
Unused substitutes: 20.Mark Birighitti
Yellow cards: Antony Golec 60’; Fabian Barbiero 80’; Daniel Mullen 84’.
Red cards: Nil.