A second half brace from David Williams was not enough for Melbourne Heart FC to overcome reigning Hyundai A-League champions Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park on Saturday evening.
In a match that burst into life in the second period, 8 743 supporters at AAMI Park enjoyed an action-packed final 45 minutes, with Williams and the Mariners’ Marcos Flores finding the net twice each in a controversial 2-2 draw.
Williams, who was named man-of-the-match in an energetic performance, netted the game’s first goal in the 54th minute before completing his brace six minutes later – claiming Melbourne Heart’s 100th Hyundai A-League goal in the process.
But the Mariners hit back after they were awarded two penalties in six second-half minutes, with Flores converting both to draw the sides level as Graham Arnold’s side snatched a point.
Melbourne Heart started without regular captain Harry Kewell with defender Robbie Wielaert taking the armband in his absence, while Williams flourished as the focal point of midfield.
Iain Ramsay commenced on the left wing in his first start for the Red and White and utilised his pace to good effect.
The Red and White had the better of the first half, with Williams, Mebrahtu and Mate Duganzdic causing the defending Hyundai A-League champion headaches in defence.
Williams had the first real chance of the match in the sixth minute, but his goal-bound effort was blocked by the Mariners’ Trent Sainsbury, before a Duganzdic effort was also blocked two minutes later by John Hutchinson.
Central Coast created a chance on the counter attack in the 22nd minute as Mitchell Duke’s fierce dipping shot forced a save out of Andrew Redmayne in the Melbourne Heart goal, before Sainsbury headed the ensuing corner onto the crossbar.
Ramsay had a brilliant chance a minute later to open his account for the Red and White, latching onto a neat through ball from Williams, but he sent a venomous strike into the side netting.
After the first half finished in a 0-0 stalemate, it took just nine minutes for Williams to find the net in the second half.
The lively Mebrahtu collected the ball outside the box in the 54th minute and his bouncing shot was parried awkwardly by Mariners keeper Justin Pasfield.
Williams reacted first, collecting the rebound and rounding Pasfield to opened the scoring to the delight of the home supporters.
The second goal came minutes later when a counter attack led by Mebrahtu allowed Ramsay to tee up a simple chance for Williams who made no mistake from six yards out and registered Heart’s 100th goal in the competition.
But the lead was short-lived and the Mariners’ first goal provided the match with the biggest talking point after a penalty was awarded for a foul against Patrick Kisnorbo on substitute Matt Simon.
The game was then turned on its head with Flores’ second goal from a second penalty – awarded to the visitors after the ball struck substitute Patrick Gerhardt on the arm.
Williams had a late chance to win it, but Pasfield smothered his close-range effort in the 83rd minute.
The result was Melbourne Heart’s second consecutive draw and was a positive attacking performance, maintaining the Club’s undefeated start to the 2013-2014 season.
Match DetailsHyundai A-League Round TwoMelbourne Heart FC 2 (David Williams 54’, 60’)Central Coast Mariners 2 (Flores 71’ [PEN], 77’ [PEN])AAMI ParkReferee: Ben WilliamsAttendance: 8,734
Melbourne Heart FC Starting XI: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE, 3. Robbie WIELAERT, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 7. Iain RAMSEY, 14. Golgol MEBRAHTU, 15. David WILLIAMS, 16. Aziz BEHICH, 17. Jason HOFFMAN, 23. Mate DUGANZDIC, 24. Patrick KISNORBO, 25. Andrea MIGLIORINI (6. Patrick GERHARDT 75’)Substitutes not used: 20. Tando VELAPHI, 19. Benjamin GARRUCIO, 21. Stefan MAUK, 22. Nicholas KALMARYellow cards: Kisnorbo 80’, Williams 80’Red Cards: Nil
Central Coast Starting XI: 1. Justin PASFIELD, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Marcel SEIP, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 9. Mitchell DUKE, 10. Marcos FLORES, 11. Nick FITZGERALD (14. Michael MCGLINCHEY 60’), 15. Storm ROUX, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 21. Mile STERJOVSKI (18. Matthew SIMON 60’)Substitutes not used: 5. Zachary ANDERSON, 12. Liam REDDY, 17. Anthony CACERES,Yellow cards: Simon 90+2’Red Cards: Nil