Melbourne Heart 0 Central Coast Mariners 1
In an act of grand larceny Central Coast Mariners stole the points with a last minute goal after Melbourne Heart had pounded the visitor’s goal for most of the previous ninety.
Michael McGlinchy came down the right and bamboozled a tiring Rutger Worm before crossing low and hard for substitute Adam Kwasnik to nip in ahead of Brendan Hamill for the decisive goal.
Prior to that nineteen-year-old keeper Matthew Ryan gave a master class of defending throwing himself at shots and headers and blocking efforts with his legs and body on several occasions.
He was assisted by the Heart players’ penchant for striking headers into the ground which bounced up to a good height for the keeper or shots which were aimed directly at him.
But still he had to pull off a string of diving and leaping saves to keep his clean sheet.
The home team lined up as 3-4-3 with Thompson, Good and Hamill in the backline, Hoffman, Germano, Behich and Marrone in the middle and Williams, Terra and Worm in attack.
Hoffman joined the attack for much of the first half and even earned a booking for what referee Strebre Delovski determined was a dive.
Mariners had a settled side with Oliver Bozanic and John Hutchinson acting as pivots in midfield.
Heart played much more mobile football in the first half with Terra and Hoffman prominent both for effort and skill.
Mariners’ skipper Alex Wilkinson joined Hoffman in the book for a trip on Hamill as Strebre Delovski took control of the game.
Hoffman put Terra away in the away and the striker’s shot hit the diving Matthew Ryan.
Hoffman headed a Rutger Worm free kick wide, then Terra had a shot which came off the junction of the crossbar and post, with Ryan beaten for once.
The second half continued the pattern of the first with Heart attacking and the Mairners content to soak up the pressure and break when they could, though their final passes were wayward and very few shots on goal resulted.
Both sides used their full complement of substitutes, but Heart might have been better to replace the ineffective Worm by the speedy Dugandzic, but in fact Worm stayed till the end and Dugandzic had only 18 minutes in lieu of Hoffman, who was exhausted according to his coach.
Aziz Behich had at least three gilt-edged chances but each time his shot was within the reach of Ryan while a downward header bounced up for the keeper to flick it away to safety.
Afterwards John van’t Schip thought the team had not played well enough to earn the points, a harsh, if just, assessment, but his young players could not be faulted for the effort they put in.
He has conceded that top spot is now the Mariners to lose and has set his sights on the highest possible finish for the Heart.
Graham Arnold was not happy with the performance of his Mariners and admitted ‘The kid saved us tonight.’
‘We had to stay compact in defence to force Worm and Terra wide and then we dealt with the crosses, but we gave the ball away too often,’ he said.
Matthew Ryan tried to deflect the praise he received but admitted his aim was to improve his game with the aim of eventually playing for his country.
As his coach said he is much better sticking with the A-League, plus the Asian Champions League and the Olympic Games, especially if Australia qualifies for London.
That will give him domestic and international experience and is much better than sitting on the bench for one of the big clubs in Europe.
The former Adelaide midfielder Paul Reid is training with Heart with a view to an injury replacement contract.
Melbourne Heart 0 Central Coast Mariners 1 (Adam Kwasnik 89’)
Wednesday, 18 January 2012
Venue: AAMI Park
Local kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Assistant referees: George Lakrindis and Luke Brennan
Fourth official: Alex Azcurra
1.Clint Bolton, 2.Michael Marrone, 3.Brendan Hamill, 6.Matt Thompson, 7.Rutger Worm, 11.Alex Terra, 13.Jonatan Germano (8.Kristian Sarkies 66’), 15.David Williams (9.Maycon 63’), 16.Aziz Behich, 17.Jason Hoffman (23.Mate Dugandzic 73’), 18.Curtis Good.
Unused substitutes: 30.Sebastian Mattei
Yellow cards: Jason Hoffman 6’
Red cards: Nil
Central Coast Mariners
1. Mathew Ryan , 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7. John Hutchinson (2. Daniel McBreen 73), 9. Bernie Ibini, 11. Oliver Bozanic, 12. Troy Hearfield (23. Adam Kwasnik 76’), 14. Michael McGlinchey, 18. Alex Wilkinson, 22. Mustafa Amini (8. Rostyn Griffiths 61’),
Unused substitutes: 20. Justin Pasfield
Yellow cards: Alex Wilkinson 3’
Red cards: Nil