Heart sweep aside ten-man Victory
Melbourne Heart continued its surge towards the finals by sweeping aside Melbourne Victory in the third derby of the season by four goals to nil. Poor Victory found their daunting trip to China had sapped the legs and this was compounded when they were reduced to ten men, after Nick Ansell was sent off by Strebre Delovski in the 38th minute. By then Heart were already two ahead and any chance of a Victory revival was snuffed out by two late goals by David Williams and substitute Harry Kewell.
Victory began brightly and sharply enough with some excellent approach play by James Troisi and Tom Rogic, who had recovered from his ankle injury. Gui Finkler drove a hard low effort that brought out a fine save by Andrew Redmayne. Heart responded with a series of strong physical challenges. Victory had given a rare start to Lawrence Thomas and the keeper’s first clearance was wayward and picked up by Iain Ramsay. His cross was flicked on by Williams and Orlando Engelaar nodded the ball home in the 9th minute. If that was a setback for Victory, Mate Dugandzic’s outrageous goal in the 16th minute was totally dispiriting. The former Victory winger sent over a cross from out on the touchline. One might have expected it to fade to the left, but it drifted right over the keeper and nestled just under the crossbar.
Victory’s woes were compounded just before the interval when Williams charged through the centre. Nick Ansell was caught slightly out of position and as he tried to retrieve the error he may have grabbed the Heart man’s shirt as the pair collided with Thomas who had rushed out of his goal. That was the interpretation Delovski indicated to those players who questioned his decision, but it resulted in a harsh sanction for one of Victory’s most promising young players.
Four minutes into the second half a Finkler free kick was met by Victory skipper Mark Milligan but his header was grabbed by Redmayne. Both sides made substitutions after the hour mark with Nick Kalmar replacing Jonathan Germano for Heart, while Connor Pain and Kosta Barbarouses swapped places with James Troisi and Archie Thompson. But it was a later substitution by Heart which really livened up the game after Heart had created and missed a string of good chances. Orlando Engelaar went off to an ovation from the Heart fans, while the appearance of Harry Kewell in his place produced contrasting reactions from the ends of the ground. He was quickly into the action forming part of a move with Dugandzic and Ramsay which laid the ball on a plate for David Williams to score in the 84th minute. But the best was yet to come for the home support as two minutes later Kewell latched on to a loose ball about 30 metres from goal and absolutely thrashed it into the far corner.
A good crowd of 25, 546 was witness to a typical local derby where the passion on and off the field created a wonderful atmosphere. Victory deserve credit for their refusal to capitulate with substitute Connor Pain raising spirits with a number of runs at the Heart defence and Heart were able to give a brief outing to Ross Archibald at the end. Heart jump above Newcastle Jets, whom they meet next week, and are only four points from the play-off position.