Melbourne Heart 2 Newcastle Jets 1
Melbourne Heart got the flying start it needed to take an early lead against Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park on New Year’s Day, then exchanged penalty goals with the visitor and just held on for the critical win. The big news about selection was the absence of Clint Bolton from the Heart goal for the first time when he was fit and available. Andrew Redmayne, who has been performing well in the National Youth League got his chance to start. Jets welcomed back Scott Neville but otherwise had the same squad which played last week against Victory.
Heart opened brightly and got the flying start they needed when skipper Fred won the ball in midfield and found Josip Tadic. The big Croatian striker delivered an exquisite through ball to his partner Golgol Mebratu and the youngster coolly nutmegged Jets keeper Mark Birigitti in the 6th minute.
Heart could not hold its advantage for long and the Jets got on terms in 18 minutes. Once again it was a defensive blunder that led to a turnover and Emil Heskey slid the loose ball through to Ryan Griffiths. Though the Jets striker was probably heading across the goal area, keeper Redmayne brought him down, earning himself a yellow card and giving a penalty to the visitors. Griffiths picked himself up and blasted home the spot kick.
That reverse did not deter the men in red and white and eight minutes later they were ahead again by a similar route. This time keeper Birighitti charged off his line to grab a dangerous cross. He collided with Patrick Gerhardt and the ball spilled loose. Jonathan Germano tried to wriggle clear but was ‘legged’ by the keeper so a booking and penalty kick followed. Tadic buried the kick as emphatically as Griffiths had done. Afterwards Gary van Egmond said that he thought his keeper had not really been protected by the referee and it is true that once the ball is in the hands of the goalie any spill usually results in a free kick in his favour.
Mebratu tested Birighitti with a curling free kick while Redmayne pulled off a stunning save from Craig Goodwin at the expense of fruitless corner kick in stoppage time at the interval. It had been an entertaining first half, and Heart deserved their narrow lead.
The second half was a let down as both teams gave the ball away faster than Santa Claus could dish out Christmas presents. So there was little continuity and the chances which eventuated were more often than not the result of turnovers and misplaced passes. Richard Garcia was about to pull the trigger on a cross from substitute Dylan MacAllister when he was denied by a defender, then MacAllister fired in a grounder causing the keeper to spill the ball, but there was no Heart player able to take advantage. At the other end, Redmayne had to make two splendid saves to deny Goodwin and Heskey. Frustrations led to bookings for dissent Sam Gallaway and Heskey but Heart hung on to grind out the win. It was not pretty but the coach John Aloisi pointed out, ‘We had to win today, no matter how’. He said the replacement of Bolton was a considered move to spark the team by showing how even the most experienced and valuable player could and would be replaced if the situation required it. Bolton took it well, Aloisi said, and spent the week helping Redmayne prepare for the game.
Gary van Egmond said the Jets were second to the ball in the first half. ‘You have to turn up for the battle’, he added. Perhaps his players lacked the spirited resilience they showed in the second half against Melbourne Victory last Friday, but the coach said you could not fault their commitment.
Tuesday, 1 January 2013
Melbourne Heart 2 (Golgol Mebratu 6’, Josip Tadic 26’) Newcastle Jets 1 (Ryan Griffiths 18’)
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 4:00pm AEDT
Referee: Chris Beath
Assistant Referees: Hakan Anaz and Patrick Chaplin
Fourth Official: Brenton Hayward
20.Andrew Redmayne, 2.Michael Marrone, 4. Simon Colosimo, 5.Fred (17.Jason Hoffman 85’), 6. Patrick Gerhardt, 8.Matthew Thompson, 10.Josip Tadic (9.Dylan Macallister 64’), 11.Richard Garcia, 13.Jonatan Germano,14.Golgol Mebrahtu (15.David Williams 73’), 16.Aziz Behich.
Unused substitute: 1.Clint Bolton
Yellow cards: Andrew Redmayne 16’
Red cards: Nil
20.Mark Birighitti, 2.Scott Neville (22.Adam Taggart 84’), 4.Josh Mitchell, 8.Ruben Zadkovich, 9.Emile Heskey, 11.Connor Chapman, 12.Josh Brillante (18.Jacob Pepper 57’), 13.Sam Gallaway, 15.Craig Goodwin, 17.James Virgili, 23.Ryan Griffiths (7. James Brown 66’).
Unused substitute: 1.Ben Kennedy
Yellow cards: Mark Birighitti 26’, Craig Goodwin 44, Sam Galloway 45+2’, Emil Heskey 87’
Red cards: Nil