Melbourne Heart FC were left empty-handed despite a dominant and energetic performance against Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday night, as a first-half Shannon Cole goal gave the visitors all three points.
The home side struck the crossbar twice, controlled much of the match and troubled the reigning champions and arguably deserved at least a point from the match at AAMI Park.
On a wet Friday night in front of 8,070 spectators, David Williams had Melbourne Heart’s best chance of the first half after rocketing a thunderous strike onto the crossbar on the eve of half time.
Substitute Mate Dugandzic also struck the woodwork five minutes before the final whistle as Heart pressed for an equaliser, but it was Cole’s opportunistic strike in the 27th minute which proved the winner.
With a number of regulars missing and with Andrea Migliorini a late withdrawal for Melbourne Heart, Head Coach John Aloisi handed Foxtel National Youth League player Paulo Retre a starting debut in midfield.
Retre combined well with the tireless Massimo Murdocca - who was a standout for the home side – while Williams registered another effective display.
Melbourne Heart looked hungry from the outset and troubled the Wanderers down the right through Golgol Mebrahtu, forcing the Wanderers onto the back foot.
Striker Michael Mifsud was also lively and almost broke the deadlock in the 25th minute, latching onto a through-ball from Iain Ramsay before the Maltese international struck the side netting with a powerful low shot.
Two minutes later Wanderers snatched the lead after a dangerous cross from full-back Adam D’Apuzzo that was headed backwards by Tomi Juric before Cole reacted first and beat Andrew Redmayne on the second attempt.
Williams went close to equalising five minutes before the break, after a trademark strike hit the edge of the crossbar with Ante Covic beaten.
The second half was much the same as the first, with Heart creating plenty of chances, but were unable convert.
The Wanderers’ Matthew Spiranovic almost presented an equaliser to Heart just after the break, after he chested a Mebrahtu cross just inches wide of his own net.
Substitutes Nick Kalmar and Stefan Mauk were lively and helped the Heart maintain momentum against the full-strength Wanderers, who sat back to soak up much of the second-half pressure.
Aziz Behich terrorised the Wanderers throughout the 90 minutes and came close to scoring a stunner, but the full-back was denied acrobatically by Covic.
With the final role of the dice, Heart almost grabbed a deserved point when Duganzdic’s header hit the crossbar from a Ramsay cross, while Mauk headed wide near the death; however, the winner proved elusive.
Match DetailsFriday, 8 November 2013Hyundai A-League Round 5Melbourne Heart FC 0Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (Shannon Cole 27’)AAMI ParkHT: 0-1Referee: Peter O’LearyAttendance: 8,070
Melbourne Heart FC Starting XI: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 2. Jeremy WALKER, 3. Robbie WIELAERT, 6. Patrick GERHARDT, 7. Iain RAMSAY, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 11. Michael MIFSUD, 14. Golgol MEBRAHTU (23. Mate DUGANDZIC 76’), 15. David WILLIAMS (22. Nicholas KALMAR 64’), 16. Aziz BEHICH, 28. Paolo RETRE (21. Stefan MAUK 71’)Substitutes not used: 20. Tando VELAPHI, 18. David VRANKOVICYellow Cards: Wielaert 41’, Behich 54’, Shannon Cole 68’Red Cards: Nil
Western Sydney Wanderers FC Starting XI: 1. Ante COVIC, 2. Shannon COLE (7. Labinot HALITI 71’), 3. Adam D’APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY 6. Jerome POLENZ, 9. Tomi JURIC, 10. Aaron MOOY, 11. Brendan SANTALAB (19. Mark BRIDGE 58’), 13. Matthew SPIRANOVIC, 18. Iacopo LA ROCCA, 21. Shinji ONO (8. Mateo POLJAK 79’)Substitutes not used: 12. Tahj MINNIECON, 20, Jerrad TYSON (GK)Yellow Cards: Santalab 23’,Red Cards: nil