Melbourne Heart 1 Brisbane Roar 1
Melbourne Heart once again matched a top-ranked opponent in Brisbane Roar and thoroughly deserved the point it took from a one-all draw at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
With a little more composure near goal, Heart could have had all three points, but it only managed to get past Michael Theoklitos once.
Heart started Eli Babalj and Mate Dugandzic with Rutger Worm and David Williams dropping to the bench and Simon Colosimo back in the squad.
Besart Berisha was able to play despite facing a one-week suspension for his part in the fracas at the end of the midweek game for Brisbane Roar.
After Brendan Hamill made a good block on Thomas Broich in the second minute Babalj broke clear at the other end and had two shots saved by Theoklitos.
In the 11th minute Aziz Behich actually got round the keeper after a great run, but he was then almost at the byeline and his cross-shot went across goal with no one close enough to get the decisive touch.
The young wing-back continued to maraud up and down the left wing and finally his efforts drew a result.
Behich skinned Berisha and fired over a cross which was deflected out to Alex Terra who volleyed the ball goalwards.
Mohamed Adnan blocked the ball but only as far as Jonaton Germano who headed it neatly over Theoklitos in the 31st minute.
Germano was to involved in another incident in the Heart penalty area seven minutes later.
Thomas Broich found Issey Nakajima-Farran out on the right and the midfielder tried to cut the ball back only for Germano to arrest its progress with his hand.
Berisha stepped up to take the penalty kick but blasted it well over the bar, to the manifest delight of young Curtis Good.
That was in the 39th minute.
Germano was then booked for a trip on Broich in 42nd minute, as Heart held the Roar scoreless until the interval.
Henrique replaced Issey Nakajima-Farrar at the break and the substitute was soon in the action, setting up Broich but the latter’s cross found no takers in front of goal.
Brisbane kept pressing in what was a delightful open game, while Heart still threatened with Babalj testing the keeper twice and Kristian Sarkies putting a free kick from a tempting distance well over the bar.
Brisbane equalised with an intricate goal following passing between substitute James Meyer, Ivan Franjic, Mitch Nicholls and a final header by Berisha.
That came after 69 minutes play and was as much as Brisbane deserved to take from the game.
Both sides made substitutions and James Meyer was prominent in his tussles with Behich down the Heart left flank.
They could not be more of contrast in stature, but they attacked and defended with great enthusiasm.
Brendan Hamill injured his knee is stopping Henrique and was replaced by Simon Colosimo, while Sarkies had a clash of heads and he gave way to Rutger Worm.
Neither side could break the deadlock and it finished one-all.
John van’t Schip took little consolation from the fact that his team had matched the two league leaders in its most recent games, feeling that while the youngsters were learning and improving there was still much more to be done.
Ange Postecoglou said that the Roar’s approach play was good, but they were lacking a cutting edge up front. He thought as they were getting players back they would also continue to improve but he had to be careful how he used those who were coming back after a spell on the sidelines.
Melbourne Heart 1 (Jonaton Germano 31’) Brisbane Roar (Besart Berisha 70’)
Venue: AAMI Park
Local kick-off: 7:45pm
Referees: Chris Beath
Assistant referees: Shaun Evans and Hakan Anaz
Fourth official: Lucian Laverdure
1. Clint Bolton, 2. Michael Marrone, 3. Brendan Hamill (4. Simon Colosimo 82’), 6. Matt Thompson, 8. Kristian Sarkies (7. Rutger Worm, 84’), 11. Alex Terra, 13. Jonatan Germano, 16. Aziz Behich, 17. Jason Hoffman, 18. Curtis Good, 19. Eli Babalj (15. David Williams, 73’) 23. Mate Dugandzic,
Unused substitutes: 30. Sebastian Mattei
Yellow cards: Jonaton Germano 42’
Red cards: Nil
1. Michael Theoklitos, 2. Matt Smith, 3. Shane Stefanutto, 5. Ivan Franjic, 6. Erik Paartalu (21. James Meyer 62’), 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 11. Issey Nakajima-Farran (10. Henrique 46’), 16. Mohamed Adnan, 17. Mitch Nichols, 22. Thomas Broich (4. Matt Jurman 84’).
Unused substitutes: 20. Andrew Redmayne
Yellow cards: Issey Nakajima-Farran 21’, Henrique 61’, Massimo Murdocca 90’
Red cards: Nil