Melbourne Heart 3 Newcastle Jets 0
Heart went seeking its first win of the season at home to Newcastle Jets on Saturday night at AAMI Park.
After an even first half, Heart exploded into action after the hour mark and scored three unanswered goals in a stunning spell of play.
Two of the goals were gems and one was a gift, though the scorer, Mate Dugandzic still had to complete the work after being the recipient of a woeful back pass.
Heart had Matt Thompson in central defence with Brendan Hamill, while Adrian Madaschi was on the bench ready for his first appearance with the seniors.
Maycon, Fred and Terra gave Heart a Brazilian flavour in the forward half, while the Jets had in-form striker Jeremy Brockie and Francis Jeffers leading their attack.
The Jets have been having a Jekyll and Hyde season, strong at home and struggling on the road, though they matched Heart for more than an hour, not without some alarms.
The first half saw lots of effort, but few near things. Aziz Behich shot narrowly wide in the 2nd minute and Fred’s free kick spun away to Jason Hoffman who also shot wide.
Jobe Wheelhouse had a header after a Newcastle corner but could not find the target.
In the 40th minute, Newcastle had a penalty claim when Jeffers had his shirt tugged but nothing was given and Heart broke quickly and Alex Terra found Hoffman in the clear but the youngster hammered the ball over the bar.
The first half ended scoreless.
The second half began with Heart beginning to exert more pressure with both Michael Marrone and Mate Dugandzic forcing keeper Ben Kennedy into fingertip saves.
Teenager Eli Babalj had replaced Maycon after 55 minutes and he was pivotal in the opening goal eleven minutes later.
Skipper Fred won the ball on the right and cut inside laying it off to Babalj, who beat Taylor Regan and Nikola Topor-Stanley with some brilliant close control.
Fred had continued to run from right to left across the area and Babalj found just the right weighted pass for Fred to finish emphatically.
It was no more than Heart had deserved, but the next goal arrived courtesy of a poor back pass by Tarek Elrich which Dugandzic pounced on and beat Kennedy for his third goal in two matches against the Jets this year.
The Jets were stung into lifting their game and the Heart’s two-goal cushion did not seem to be enough.
However with five minutes left Aziz Behich ran at the defence turning substitute Ben Kantarovski inside-out twice before curling the ball into the opposite top corner of the net to secure a famous victory.
After the match coach John van’t Schip praised the Heart fans for the persistent vocal support which helped carry the team through a period when the results did not go their way.
Next week he will lose Dugandzic, Hoffmanl and Behich to the Olyroos, though Simon Colosimo, Madaschi and possibly Rutger Worm should all be available.
Fred limped off late in the game, but the coach insisted this was the result of cramp, not a recurrence of the hamstring injury which ruled him out of an earlier game this season.
It was notable that all three Heart goals were scored by former Melbourne Victory players.
Gary van Egmond was finding it hard to explain why the Jets are so good at home and poor by comparison when they are on the road.
He said the attitude, training and team spirit had all been first class, but that finding consistency of performance was critical if the team was to challenge for honours this year.
Melbourne Heart 3 (Fred 66’, Mate Dugandzic 73’, Aziz Behich 85’) Newcastle Jets 0
Saturday, 12 November 2011
Venue: AAMI Park
Local kick-off: 5:30pm
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant referees: Luke Brennan and James Nicolopoulos
Fourth Official: Alex Azcurra
1.Clint Bolton, 2.Michael Marrone, 3.Brendan Hamill, 5.Fred (13.Jonatan Germano 83’), 6.Matt Thompson, 9.Maycon (19.Eli Babalj, 55’), 10.Wayne Srhoj, 11.Alex Terra (25.Adrian Madaschi, 72’), 16.Aziz Behich, 17.Jason Hoffman, 23. Mate Dugandzic
Unused substitutes: 30. Sebastian Mattei
Yellow cards: Eli Babalj 76’, Aziz Behich 86’
Red cards: Nil
1. Ben Kennedy, 2. Taylor Regan (5. Tiago Calvano 68’), 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 7. Kasey Wehrman (6. Ben Kantarovski 81’), 8. Jeremy Brockie, 11. Tarek Elrich, 12. Jobe Wheelhouse , 13. Sung-Hwan Byun, 22. Ali Abbas, 23. Ryan Griffiths, 24. Francis Jeffers (14. Labinot Haliti 64’).
Unused substitutes: 30. Jack Duncan
Yellow cards: Kasey Wehrman 51’, Nikola topor-Stanley 77’
Red cards: Nil