Melbourne Heart 1 Western Sydney Wanderers 3
Western Sydney Wanderers are within touching distance of the A-League title after a three-one away win over Melbourne Heart at a wet AAMI Park on Saturday night. Though the home team put up a spirited fight in the latter part of the first half, and the first period of the second, in the end the result reflected the gulf in class between the sides. The Wanderers were first to the ball and always had options for their passes, while Heart matched them for a while but gave the ball away in critical situations and did not always man up when that happened. Thus two of the three goals came about when it seemed that Heart might be breaking clear of its own defensive area, but the turnovers proved fatal.
Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi wielded the axe after last week’s dismal performance against Adelaide United. Paying the price were David Williams, Eli Babalj, Nick Kalmar and Marcel Meeuwis. In came Patrick Gerhardt, Fred, Jonathan Germano and young Sam Mitchinson. Western Sydney Wanderers lost Shinji Ono to a hamstring strain, with Aaron Mooy stepping in, but otherwise was on normal lines chasing its tenth win in a row.
The Wanderers went ahead in 29 minutes after Heart gave the ball away on the right and Mark Bridge ran to the byeline unchallenged before cutting the ball back to Aaron Mooy in the centre of the penalty area. The blond midfielder fed Labinot Haliti whose precise shot took the inside of the post on the way into the net.
Heart got a scintillating equaliser when skipper Fred released Golgol Mebrahtu. He took one touch to line things up then blasted the ball inside Ante Covic’s right hand post. That was in the 39th minute. That stunning goal lifted the Heart and just before the break it seemed they had taken the lead only for the ‘goal’ to be disallowed. Mebrathu’s free kick was headed goalwards by Richard Garcia and Josip Tadic took a swing at the ball as it went past him. It is doubtful whether he actually got a touch and he did not seem to be impeding any of the Wanderers especially keeper Covic. From side on it was clear that three Heart players were momentarily in an offside position, so the assistant referee’s flag was understandable. However, the incident divided opinion among referees, inspectors and media commentators alike, and it did mean that Heart’s fightback was stalled. Patrick Gerhardt was booked for his protest at the decision.
Heart started the second half well, but the wind was taken out of them when Haliti scored his second goal on the hour. Mark Bridge was involved again and he squared the ball to Iacopo La Rocca who measured a pass to Haliti for a clear opening which he did not waste by lifting the ball over the keeper.
Simon Colosimo was booked for a challenge on Wanderers’ substitute Dino Kresinger in 75 minutes, but five minutes later he went straight through the same player from behind. He left the referee Ben Williams with no option but to send him off.
Following his departure any chance of Heart saving the game disappeared and with a couple of minutes left La Rocca expertly controlled a spiralling high ball before cutting across the penalty area and curling the ball round Redmayne for the Wanderer’s third goal.
John Aloisi said afterwards, ‘We can’t give up. It is not in my nature to give up. We have had a great home record until the last two defeats, why not win two in a row away to end the season?’ I love his glass half-full approach to any adversity and he was right to point to a much better performance than in the loss to Adelaide.
Tony Popovic is not a man who gets ahead of himself and was not about to claim the title or look forward to the finals series. ‘We will focus on next week. We have a big derby coming up (against Sydney on 23 March). We will control what we can and look at finals if and when we get there.’ His players have done him proud this year already.
Saturday, 16 March 2013
Melbourne Heart FC 1 (Golgol Mabrathu 39’) Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Labinot Haliti 29’, 60’, Iacopo La Rocca 88’)
Venue: AAMI Park
Kick off: 5.30 PM
Referee: Ben Williams
Assistant referees: Hakan Anaz and Matthew Cream
Fourth official: Shaun Evans
20. Andrew Redmayne, 4. Simon Colosimo, 5. Fred (22. Nick Kalmar 75’), 6. Patrick Gerhardt, 8. Matt Thompson, 10. Josip Tadic, 11. Richard Garcia, 13. Jonatan Germano, 14. Golgol Mebrathu, 25. Jeremy Walker (15. David Williams 67’).
Unused substitutes: 1. Clint Bolton, 16. Marcel Meeuwis
Yellow cards: Patrick Gerhardt 43’, Simon Colosimo 75’, 80’.
Red cards: Simon Colosimo 80’
Western Sydney Wanderers:
1. Ante Covic, 3. Adam D’Apuzzo, 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 5. Michael Beauchamp, 6. Jerome Polenz (2. Shannon Cole 29’), 7. Labinot Haliti (23. Jason Trifiro 88’), 8. Mateo Poljak, 10. Aaron Mooy (9. Dino Kresinger 71’), 17. Youssouf Hersi, 18. Iacopo La Rocca, 19.Mark Bridge,
Unused substitutes: 20. Jerrad Tyson
Yellow cards: Mateo Poljak 42’, Adam D’Apuzzo 58’, Youssouf Hersi 83’
Red cards: Nil