Melbourne Heart fans and their banners
Melbourne Heart 2 Sydney FC 2
By Roy Hay
Melbourne Heart and Sydney FC rounded off their participation in the 2010–11 A-League season with a hard fought two-all draw at AAMI Park on Saturday night in front of just over 6,000 fans.
Most of them had come to see the curtain come down on two stellar Australian careers and the last game for one of Melbourne Heart’s first overseas signings.
Sydney went ahead with a penalty kick, but the Heart bounced back to take a two-one lead only to be caught in the last few minutes having earlier been reduced to ten men for half the game.
Some petty and insensitive refereeing took the edge of the farewell match for John Aloisi, Josip Skoko and Gerald Sibon.
All three were involved with referee Ben Williams in incidents which affected the course of their last game.
In the 34th minute Skoko pulled back Hirofumi Moriyasu on the very edge of the penalty area.
Skoko was booked and a penalty given, which Nicky Carle buried just inside the right hand post giving Clint Bolton no chance.
Heart got on terms in 41 minutes when Skoko robbed Carle deep in the Sydney half and Gerald Sibon slipped the loose ball through to Rutger Worm.
The Dutch winger lashed the ball across Liam Reddy and into the net.
Sibon was booked in 29 minutes for back-chatting the referee, but then in the last minute of the first half he kicked the ball away after a free kick was given when Simon Colosimo tangled with Jubo Makela.
Whether Sibon thought the free kick was in Heart’s favour and took it quickly or he was being petulant is not clear.
The referee intervened instantly and sent him off. It was a decision in line with the laws of the game, but insensitive in the circumstances.
In the second half Williams grabbed more unwanted attention in booking John Aloisi after the Socceroo striker put Victory ahead with a blistering shot from a pass by Wayne Shroj.
In the reprise of his shirt-removing lap of Stadium Australia after the final penalty kick of the World Cup qualifier in 2005, Aloisi ran to the Heart fans and was promptly booked.
The memory of one of the most iconic moments in Australia sport had been tarnished.
Williams would avoid the loss of a point from the referee’s inspector by all three decisions but in the context of the game two of them could, and perhaps should have been avoided.
Nicky Carle took advantage when substitute Kristian Sarkies gave the ball away on the edge of his own penalty area in 88 minutes and beat Clint Bolton with a shot which crept over the line after hitting the goalpost.
Heart could have won the match itself when the mobile and inventive Matt Thompson found Nick Kalmar charging down the inside right channel.
Kalmar struck the volley sweetly but straight at keeper Liam Reddy who clung on to the ball and the last chance was gone.
This was Matt Thompson’s 150th A-League game.
Terry McFlynn said that Sydney had hoped to end on a high note, but thought the draw a fair result.
His coach Vitezslav Lavicka thought the recent run of good results had been pleasing and confidence boosting, but the earlier poor ones had left them too much of a gap to close.
He looked forward to a quick decision by the FFA which would allow Sydney to recruit some new players for the upcoming Asian Champions League.
Josip Skoko and John Aloisi reflected on their careers, which had many points in common, and stressed how much they had enjoyed their final year helping Melbourne Heart establish itself.
They both appreciated the support of the Heart fans whose banners and tributes showed just how much the two had meant to them.
John Aloisi was named player of the match and it was fitting that his final on-field interview was conducted by his brother Ross on behalf of the broadcaster.
Melbourne Heart 2 (Rutger WORM 41’, John ALOISI 62’) Sydney FC 2 (Nick CARLE 35’ PENALTY, 88’).
Saturday, 12 February 2011
AAMI Stadium, Melbourne
Local kick-off: 7:00pm
Referee: Ben WILLIAMS
Assistant referees: James NICOLOPOULOS Shaun EVANS
Fourth official: Lucien LAVERDURE
Melbourne Heart: 1.Clint BOLTON, 2.Michael MARRONE, 4.Simon COLOSIMO, 6.Matt THOMPSON, 7.Rutger WORM (22.Nick KALMAR 73’), 9.Gerald SIBON, 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 14.Kamal IBRAHIM, 15.John ALOISI (8.Kristian SARKIES 83’), 16.Aziz BEHICH, 20.Josip SKOKO (5.Michael BEAUCHAMP 70’), 21.Kliment TASESKI, 23.Dean HEFFERNAN
Substitutes not used: 12.Peter ZOIS
Yellow cards: Wayne SHROJ 20’, Gerald SIBON 29’, 45’, Josip SKOKO 39’, John ALOISI 62’
Red cards: Gerald SIBON 45’
Sydney FC: 1. Liam REDDY, 2. Sebastian RYALL (22. Sung-Hwan BYUN 58’), 3. Stephan KELLER, 6. Hirofumi MORIYASU (7. Brendan GAN 81’), 9. Bruno CAZARINE, 10. Nick CARLE, 12. Shannon COLE (11. Kofi DANNING 70’), 15. Terry MCFLYNN (c), 17. Matt JURMAN, 18. Juho MAKELA, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI, 21. Scott JAMIESON
Substitutes not used: 20. Ivan NECEVSKI
Yellow cards: Terry McFLYNN 45 + 1’
Red cards: Nil