Melbourne Heart 2 North Queensland Fury 0
By Roy Hay
Melbourne Heart and North Queensland Fury met for the third time this season at AAMI Park on Sunday night, with the Heart recording a hat-trick of wins over its opponent this time by two goals to nil.
The win cements Heart’s sixth spot on the ladder, four points clear of Wellington Phoenix, which has two games in hand.
Heart had nearly a full squad to pick from and went with youth and consequently had Michael Beauchamp, Gerald Sibon and Alex Terra on the bench, all players with international experience.
After a very scrappy opening 15 minutes, Heart settled to play some good attacking football, while the Fury always looked to break quickly in counter-attacks.
In 21 minutes Chris Payne broke through on the right and seemed certain to score ,but chose to square the ball to David Williams and there was just enough time for Simon Colosimo to get back and deflect the shot for a corner.
That was a pivotal moment in the match, for had Fury scored then the momentum would have been theirs.
A minute later Josip Skoko changed feet to deceive his man in midfield then found John Aloisi who combined with Adrian Zahra.
The latter returned the ball into Skoko’s path with a cushioned header but the midfielder’s shot flew over the bar.
Skoko had another pile driver in injury time which Justin Pasfield reached at full stretch.
Neither side deserved to be ahead at the break, and John van’t Schip enjoined his players to be more decisive with their passing in the second half.
Two substitutions had a big impact on the Heart’s approach as the livewire Alex Terra replaced Rutger Worm, whose crosses had been too high for his diminutive colleagues in attack.
Michael Marrone drove down the left into the space normally occupied by Worm and from near the bye-line sent over a low cross which John Aloisi knocked past Justin Pasfield from close range.
That was in the 59th minute.
Immediately after the goal Gerald Sibon took over from Nick Kalmar.
Kalmar had showed some nice touches in the first half, but Sibon’s experience was to prove telling.
He had two free kicks from distance both of which forced Pasfield into scrambling across his line.
The second finished in the side-netting, with half the stadium believing it had nestled in the goal.
In 83 minutes, Heart made the points secure when Aziz Behich combined with Matt Thompson out on the left and the latter’s cross was met by Sibon, who outjumped the Fury defence to head home cleanly.
It was the big man’s sixth goal of the season.
Afterwards John van’t Schip talked about the tension in the team’s play early on, and noted that the players had much more belief after scoring the first goal.
That also meant Fury had to chase the game and more space appeared for Heart to exploit.
Franz Straka thought that Chris Payne’s missed opportunity proved the turning point in the game.
He noted that Fury had a number of young players including Bradley McDonald and Chris Payne and like all youngsters their performance match-to-match was variable.
The uncertainty in the club about its future was having an effect and players were inevitably concerned about their futures.
Isaka Cernak is contracted to join the Victory next season and Mark Hughes, who had an excellent game in central defence, will also be leaving the club.
Fury has been an entertaining side this season and deserves to survive, so let’s hope that the commitment of the players is rewarded by the Townsville people getting fully behind their club.
Melbourne Heart 2 (John ALOISI 59’, Gerald SIBON 83’) North Queensland Fury 0
Sunday, 2 January 2010
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Local kick-off: 5:00pm
Referee: Peter Green
Assistant referees: Shaun Evans and James Nicolopoulos
Fourth official: Lucien Laverdure
Melbourne Heart: 1.Clint BOLTON, 2.Michael MARRONE, 4.Simon COLOSIMO, 6.Matt THOMPSON, 7.Rutger WORM (11.Alex TERRA 52’), 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 15.John ALOISI (5.Michael BEAUCHAMP 76’), 16.Aziz BEHICH, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 20.Josip SKOKO, 22.Nick KALMAR (9.Gerald SIBON 59’), 25.Adrian ZAHRA
Unused substitutes: 12.Peter ZOIS
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
North Queensland Fury squad: 1. Justin PASFIELD, 3. Brad McDONALD, 5. Mark HUGHES, 6. Ufuk TALAY (8. Adam CASEY 57’), 7. Gareth EDDS, 11. David WILLIAMS, 12. Panagiotis NIKAS (21. Jason SPAGNUOLO 71’), 13. Andre KILIAN (2. Jack HINGERT 74’), 14. Chris GROSSMAN, 15. Chris PAYNE, 24. Ramazan TAVSANCIOGLU
Unused substitutes: 28. Sebastian USAI
Yellow cards: Mark HUGHES 90 + 3
Red cards: Nil