Melbourne Heart FC's surge towards the Hyundai A-League finals hit a snag on Sunday afternoon as the Red and White drew 2-2 with Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park.
Wellington went ahead twice in the game, first through Roy Krishna in the sixth minute and then Tyler Boyd in the 57th, but the Red and White equalised on two occasions, with Jonatan Germano claiming the first reply in the 29th minute, before a second-half penalty from David Williams squared the ledger.
With both teams requiring three points to stay firmly in the finals hunt, the game began with great urgency, with the first shot on goal coming from Williams in just the third minute, with the attacker fizzing a low shot wide of Glen Moss’ near post.
However, the Red and White were put on the back foot in just the 6th minute, when Fijian international Krishna put the Phoenix ahead with a well-taken goal after shaking challenges from Ben Garuccio and Patrick Kisnorbo.
Germano thought he had levelled the scores in the 11th minute, heading a Mate Dugandzic free kick into the net past Moss, but he was adjudged to be in an offside position from Dugandzic’s cleverly-curled set piece.
Melbourne Heart went close minutes later as Dugandzic scooped a wonderful Williams cut back over the bar.
After 29 minutes of frantic football, Melbourne Heart finally claimed their first equaliser as Dugandzic crashed a powerful shot through a crowded penalty area which took the slightest of touches off Germano and nestled in the back of the net.
The AAMI Park crowd had little time to catch its breath, with Williams brought down, minutes after the restart, on the edge of the area by Ben Sigmund after a wonderful ball from Harry Kewell.
Sigmund was cautioned, despite denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity, but Kewell failed to make the Phoenix pay, firing the resulting free-kick wide of the target.
Melbourne Heart's bid to win the game was given a boost in the 33rd minute when Sigmund was sent off for a second bookable offence in the space of two minutes.
However, the numerical disadvantage didn’t quell Phoenix’s desire with danger man Krishna forcing a magnificent one-handed save from Andrew Redmayne in the Melbourne Heart goal.
The custodian saved his side again a few minutes later with another one-handed block, this time from Tyler Boyd in the 40th minute.
The first half ended with the scores tied at 1-1.
Melbourne Heart made their intentions clear in the early exchanges of the second half, coming out of the change-rooms and creating chances through Dugandzic and Kewell.
Despite having only 10 men, it was the Phoenix who took the lead in the 57th minute after a dangerous cross from Krishna led to Boyd curling in a shot past Redmayne.
The drama continued as Melbourne Heart received a lifeline in the 61st minute when Manny Muscat was adjudged to have taken down Kewell in the penalty area.
Williams stepped up and levelled the match at 2-2, with the spot kick taking Williams to the top of the A-League's goal-scoring charts with his 11th strike of the season.
In the 74th minute Jason Hoffman found himself in space and flashed a dangerous ball across the box but no Melbourne Heart attacker could get close enough to steer it home.
With 12 minutes still to play, van’t Schip had used all of his substitutes, sending on Nick Kalmar, Stefan Mauk and Iain Ramsay in a bid to breach the resilient Wellington Phoenix rear guard.
Melbourne Heart dominated the latter stages of the contest but were unable to penetrate Wellington’s defensive line.
Match DetailsHyundai A- League Round 23Sunday, 16 March 2014Melbourne Heart FC 2 (Germano 29’, Williams 62’ [PEN])Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (Krishna 6’, Boyd 57’)Attendance: 5614Referee: Ben Williams
Melbourne Heart FC Starting XI: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 3. Robbie WIELAERT , 4. Orlando ENGELAAR (22. Nicholas KALMAR 57’) , 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 10.Harry KEWELL (C), 13. Jonatan GERMANO (21. Stefan MAUK 75’), 15. David WILLIAMS, 17. Jason HOFFMAN, 19. Benjamin GARUCCIO, 23. Mate DUGANDZIC (7. Iain RAMSAY 78’), 24. Patrick KISNORBOSubstitutes not used: 20. Tando VELAAPHI (GK), 6.Patrick GERHARDTYellow Cards: Jonatan Germano 70’, Benjamin GARUCCIO 93' Iain RAMSAY 93'Red Cards: Nil
Wellington Phoenix FC Starting XI: 1. Glen MOSS (GK), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 5. Michael BOXALL, 9. Kenny CUNNINGHAM (19. Hamish WATSON 81’), 10. Stein HUYSEGEMS (23. Matthew RIDENTON 46’), 12. Tyler BOYD (11. Jeremy BROCKIE 60’), 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 22. Andrew DURANTE (C), 24. Roy KRISHNA, 25. Shaun TIMMINSSubstitutes not used: 15. Jason HICKS, 20. Lewis ITALIANO (GK)Yellow Cards: Roy KRISHNA 20’, Ben SIGMUND 30’, Manny MUSCAT 61’, Andrew DURANTE 85'Red Cards: Ben SIGMUND 34'