Melbourne Heart 1 Perth Glory 2
Perth Glory was good value for its two-one away win over Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon.
Kristian Sarkies started for Heart along with Jason Hoffmann and Matt Thompson in midfield.
Brendan Hamill, Curtis Good, Aziz Behich and Michael Marrone gave the Heart the youngest backline in the A-League and they were thoroughly tested on the day.
Clint Bolton overtook Paul Trimboli as the second games record holder in national leagues of Australia notching up his 453rd appearance.
Bas van den Brink was back for Perth, but striker Billy Mehmet did not come up. Steve Pantelidis started in defence alongside van den Brink and Evan Berger, another former Victory player, was on the bench.
Sarkies had a free kick in the tenth minute which did not trouble Danny Vukovic and a long ball forward from Clint Bolton was nodded on by Eli Babalj to Rutger Worm but the final shot sailed high and wide.
Kristian Sarkies was robbed by Jacob Burns in his own half and the Glory skipper slipped the ball to Liam Miller.
The Scottish playmaker put a delicious through ball in front of Shane Smeltz who finished as clinically as ever in the 16th minute.
On the half-hour Heart had a couple of near things.
Vukovic punched away another Sarkies free kick and Babalj’s header hit the post with the keeper scrambling.
Eli Babalj worked his way into the penalty area but was brought down by Jacob Burns.
Smeltz should have had a second goal in the 33rd minute when Brendan Hamill fell over in front of him as the cross came in from Mile Sterjovski.
Bolton blocked the first attempt and Aziz Behich slid in to block the second.
Four minutes before the interval van den Brink seemed to handle the ball not once but twice in the penalty box as he fell and tried to scramble it away but referee Chris Beath was not interested.
On the hour Behich had a great slaloming run down the left but the final ball was just behind Babalj who could not connect with it.
A similar run and cross from Behich was just too high for the leaping substitute Jonathan Germano and the ball went harmlessly over.
A spell of Heart pressure then produced the equaliser.
Jacob Burns brought down Babalj just inside the box and this time the referee awarded the penalty.
Matt Thompson’s kick was turned away by Danny Vukovic who moved early, but Kristian Sarkies reacted quickest and put the ball back into the net.
That was in the 66th minute.
Ian Ferguson, the Perth coach, was leaping in delight at the Vukovic save, but in disgust a second later as his defence failed to react quickly enough to the rebound.
Parity only lasted two minutes as Mile Sterjovski cut in from the left and shot along the deck.
Bolton went down and spilled the ball, and then clawed it into the path of Steve McGarry who finished from inside the goal area.
Heart brought on Maycon to try to conjure another equaliser but the visitors held firm and might have had another goal towards the end.
John van’t Schip thought Heart had lots of possession, but most of it was deep in their own half, and the Glory really strangled the life out the Heart in the latter stages.
Ian Ferguson said his team had been playing good football but not getting the breaks, while in the last five matches it had taken advantage of the rub of the green.
Van’t Schip poured cold water on any suggestion that Heart would be diving into the transfer market to try to replace skipper Fred on a permanent or temporary basis.
It was not possible in the time to get someone from overseas, while none of the local players of sufficient quality would be uncontracted or fit enough to slot straight in to replace the ones he had at his disposal.
Sunday 15 January
Melbourne Heart v Perth Glory
Venue: AAMI Park
Local kick-off: 4:00pm
Referees: Chris Beath
Assistant referees: Hakan Anaz and Shaun Evans
Fourth official: Alex Azcurra
1.Clint Bolton, 2.Michael Marrone, 3.Brendan Hamill, 6.Matt Thompson, 7.Rutger Worm (11.Alex Terra 56’), 8.Kristian Sarkies (9.Maycon 81’), 16.Aziz Behich, 17.Jason Hoffman (13.Jonatan Germano 61’), 18.Curtis Good, 19.Eli Babalj, 23.Mate Dugandzic, (GK)
Unused substitutes: 30.Sebastian Mattei
Yellow cards: Kristian Sarkies 66’
Red cards: Nil
1.Danny Vukovic, 3.Bas Van Den Brink, 5.Steve Pantelidis, 7.Jacob Burns, 9.Shane Smeltz, 10.Liam Miller, 13.Travis Dodd (8.Adam Hughes 88’), 14.Steven McGarry, 17.Todd Howarth, 19, Josh Risdon, 21.Mile Sterjovski (16.Evan Berger 72’).
Unused substitutes: 27.Andrezinho, 30. Lewis Italiano
Yellow cards: Liam Miller 87
Red cards: Nil