Melbourne Heart FC opened its pre-season account with a positive 4-1 win over a lively GNEFA All Stars side at McEwan Reserve in Shepparton on Thursday evening.
Two goals either side of half-time gave a new-look Red and White the honours in the Club’s first hit out ahead of the 2013-14 Hyundai A-League season.
A fantastic turnout of 2800 people turned out to watch the match on a chilly evening and were treated to an entertaining game of football.
Golgol Mebrahtu and Dylan Macallister gave Heart a 2-0 lead in the first half hour, before the All Stars pulled a goal back from the penalty spot through sharp-shooter Sean Ellis.
Benjamin Garuccio sealed the result in the 50th minute, adding a third for the visiting Heart.
Mate Dugandzic supplied the icing on the cake, finish a superbly-executed free kick in the last five minutes.
While Heart were positive on the score-sheet, the match gave Head Coach John Aloisi the opportunity to field different line-ups in both halves to give his squad members time in their legs.
Jason Hoffman captained the Heart side which included eight players from last season’s senior and youth squad, new signings Massimo Murdocca and Iain Ramsay debuted and triallist Phil Petreski was handed a starting berth.
Rob Wielaert and Harry Kewell were rested, while Jeremy Walker, Jonatan Germano and Nick Kalmar did not play a part in the match.
While the All Stars looked well structured and disciplined, Melbourne Heart were quick to utilise the pace of Ramsay down the left flank.
The first half chance fell in the eighth minute when the former Adelaide United winger combined with Sam Mitchinson, before Dylan Macallister teed up Petreski, whose powerful shot was blocked.
The effervescent Ramsay forced an excellent full-stretch save from All Stars keeper Muntadhar Al Gazaly in the 16th minute, but Heart were caught out on the counter immediately as the All Stars launched an attack up the opposite end.
A quick through ball sent the All Star’s pacey number nine Craig Carley through on goal, and it took a special calculated save from goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne to thwart the home side.
It was a rare chance for the All Stars and Heart started to tighten the screw, eventually finding a breakthrough when Mebrahtu netted his first, slamming home past Al Gazaly after a clever ball from Stefan Mauk.
Mebrahtu was instrumental in the side’s second, striking a trademark free kick, which curled and dipped over the All Stars wall, onto the cross bar just five minutes later.
The effort bounced downward off the woodwork and appeared to cross the line, but Macallister nodded home the rebound to erase any doubt and claim Heart’s second.
However, the advantage was short lived when a challenge from Mitchinson in the penalty area two minutes later was punished and the All Stars were awarded a penalty.
Sean Ellis fired past Redmayne from the spot to cut the lead in half and give the All Stars hope of a comeback.
Heart rung the changes at the break, making seven substitutes to allow David Williams, Dugandzic, Garuccio, new signing Tando Velaphi and triallists Ross Archibald, Rashid Mahazi and Paolo Retre a full 45 minutes.
It didn’t take long for Garuccio to make an impact, bagging Heart’s third five minutes after the restart.
The majority of chances fell to the Red and White in the second period, with Garuccio, Mitchinson and Williams missing gilt-edged opportunities.
But Dugandzic topped off a successful outing for Heart with the pick of the goals with minutes left on the clock, converting an excellent free-kick for the fourth and final goal of the night.
Match DetailsThursday 25 July 2013Melbourne Heart FC 4 (Golgol Mebrahtu 30’, Dylan Macallister 35’, Benjamin Garuccio 51’, Mate Dugandzic 86’)GNEFA All Stars 1 (Sean Ellis [PEN] 37’)HT: 1-2McEwan Reserve, SheppartonReferee: Brenton HowardCrowd: 2800
GNEFA All Stars FC Starting XI: 22. Muntadhar Al Gazaly (GK), 2. Kevin Moffat, 3. Kelvin Lomax, 4. Nick Kalafatis, 6. Ivo Madeira, 9. Craig Carley, 10. Jamie England, 11. Sean Ellis, 15. Josh Quaynor, 16. Riley Hamilton, 17. Spiro VourgaslisSubstitutes: 1. Steven Granger (GK), 7. Fahad Alghazly, 18. Alex Goodwin, 19. Joe Hogarty, 20. Anthony Calandro, 21. Hussain SumaliYellow:: Carley 67', Ellis 78'Red: Nil
Melbourne Heart FC Starting XI: 20. Andrew Redmayne (GK), 6. Patrick Gerhardt, 7. Iain Ramsay, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 9. Dylan Macallister, 13. Stefan Mauk, 14. Golgol Mebrahtu, 16. Phil Petreski (T) 17. Jason Hoffman (C), 18. David Vrankovic, 24. Sam MitchinsonSubstitutes: 1. Tando Velaphi, 2. Ross Archibald (T), 11. Rashid Mahazi (T), 15. David Williams, 19. Benjamin Garuccio, 23. Mate Dugandzic, 28. Paulo Retre (T)Yellow: Garuccio 63'Red: NilT= Triallist