Melbourne Heart FC emerged from a challenging assignment against Western Sydney Wanderers with a well-deserved point at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday evening.
Melbourne Heart snatched the lead in the 38th minute when David Williams’ cross from the left wing evaded a number of bodies in the box and found its way past Wanderers keeper Ante Covic and nestled in the goal.
But Western Sydney struck back a short time later as Aaron Mooy’s long-range effort beat ‘keeper Andrew Redmayne from outside the box, a minute before the interval.
Neither side could break the deadlock in the second period, despite both teams creating openings, and Melbourne Heart held on to take a point home on the road from the reigning champions.
Following a hard-fought and entertaining 3-3 draw against Adelaide United last Sunday, John Aloisi’s side travelled to Parramatta with the hope of upsetting the reigning champions in front of its vocal home support.
Aloisi made two changes to his starting line-up, bringing in Jason Hoffman – who recovered from injury last week – at right back for Patrick Gerhardt, while Golgol Mebrahtu was handed a start in the Heart’s front three.
But the news that received the most interest was the naming of Harry Kewell on Melbourne Heart’s bench.
Kewell featured as a substitute in the second half and proved an effective contributor, but Aloisi’s side couldn’t conjure a winner as the experienced playmaker attempted to swing the game in Heart’s favour in the final 20 minutes.
In an entertaining match, Melbourne Heart nearly snatched the lead in the 10th minute when Iain Ramsay swung a cross in from the left and Mebrahtu stole in between two defenders, only to steer his volley wide of the target.
The Wanderers produced two long-range efforts at goal through Mateo Poljak and Aaron Mooy during the early exchanges, but the home side failed to test Redmayne, as Aziz Behich came to Heart’s rescue.
Behich, who registered an admirable performance throughout the 90 minutes, cleared two of the Wanderers’ chances off the line – first scooping Iacopo La Rocca’s header clear before blocking Mark Bridge’s shot on the line.
Williams opened the scoring soon after Behich’s heroics, following a quick one-two on the left wing, as Williams whipped a cross to Michael Mifsud and the ball snuck past Covic to nestle into the far corner for the opener.
Wanderers hit back through Mooy six minutes later, as the midfielder struck a low, long-range effort past Redmayne, which saw both sides go into the break at 1-1.
Heart looked to make an immediate impact after the restart as Mifsud struck a shot just over Covic’s bar in the 47th minute, before Kewell’s introduction gave Melbourne added creativity in midfield with 20 minutes remaining.
But as Aloisi’s side continued to show fight and character, fending off Wanderers’ attacks but continuing to launch their own forward forays, the winner proved elusive, despite the home side giving the Heart a late scare as Matthew Spiranovic’s header ricocheted off the bar in stoppage time.
Match DetailsSaturday, 7 December 2013Hyundai A-League Round 9Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Aaron Mooy 44’)Melbourne Heart FC 1 (David Williams 38’)Pirtek Stadium, ParramattaHT: 1-1Referee: Kris Griffiths-JonesAttendance: 14,549
Western Sydney Wanderers Starting XI: 1. Ante COVIC (GK), 3. Adam D'APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 6. Jerome POLENZ, 7. Labinot HALITI (14. Kwabena APPIAH 77’), 8. Mateo POLJAK (21. Shinji ONO 69’), 10. Aaron MOOY, 13. Matthew SPIRANOVIC, 17. Youssouf HERSI (12. Tahj MINNIECON 82’), 18. Iacopo LA ROCCA, 19. Mark BRIDGESubstitutes not used: 20. Jerrad TYSON (GK) 22. Dean HEFFERNANYellow cards: Matthew SPIRANOVIC 23’, Youssouf HERSI 26’Red cards: Nil
Melbourne Heart FC Starting XI: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 3. Robbie WIELAERT, 7. Iain RAMSAY (22. Nick KALMAR 66’), 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 11. Michael MIFSUD (6. Patrick GERHARDT 90’), 14. Golgol MEBRAHTU (10. Harry KEWELL 72’), 15. David WILLIAMS, 16. Aziz BEHICH, 17. Jason HOFFMAN, 24. Patrick KISNORBO, 25. Andrea MIGLIORINISubstitutes not used: 20. Tando VELAPHI (GK), 19. Benjamin GARUCCIOYellow cards: Andrew REDMAYNE 87’Red cards: Nil