Melbourne Heart substitute striker David Williams proved to be the thorn in Perth Glory’s side as a resurgent Melbourne Heart FC recorded its third win in four matches by defeating the Glory 2 - 1 at the Lavington Sports Ground in the regional town of Albury.
The round 18 game was part of the A-League and FFA’s ‘Play Football’ campaign, encouraging the grassroots involvement of football in Australia and seemed to coincide well with Glory’s starting line up.
The likes of, new signings Darvydas Sernas and Nebojsa Marinkovic were joined by Marquee man, William Gallas, and a trio of Western Australian based players including Josh Risdon, Riley Woodcock and the new number five, Rostyn Griffiths, who was making his debut for his home-town club.
With temperatures surging above 40 degrees in the border town, and the match already put back by two hours to avoid the sun's strongest rays, there was some debate as to whether the game would even go ahead.
But at kick off time the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature, whilst above the 28 degrees recommended, had reach a level deemed suitable by the FFA to go ahead, albeit with the implementation of two short drinks breaks during the first half.
The game which will go down in the record books as being played in the hottest ever conditions in the A-League’s history, also coincided with over eight hours of travel to the game by the Glory team.
Understandably the first half started at a pedestrian pace with both teams obviously reserving their energy in the sweltering conditions, but it was Melbourne Heart who held the initiative in the early stages with Harry Kewell pulling a shot wide within the first seven minutes.
After the first drinks break it was Heart who once again sustained the pressure on Glory with a low ball from Ian Ramsay just flashing past Mate Dugandzic as he tried to guide a shot goal ward.
Then, just on 27 minutes, new Glory signing Rostyn Griffiths, gave away possession to the lively Ramsay who forced keeper Danny Vukovic into a fingertip save over the crossbar.
As the first half came to a close Glory were finally allowed to find some space as Shane Smeltz pulled a ball back to the captain, Jacob Burns, who’s strike flew just high of the Heart crossbar.
HT: Melbourne Heart 0-0 Perth Glory
At the start of the second half Glory made its first change with Sernas’ day in the sun over, being replaced by the fresh legs of the Brazilian Sidnei Sciola and this seemed to give Glory a little more intensity as Smeltz was unlucky not to get onto the end of a misdirected back pass by Heart man, Jonatan Germano.
Although, after having been denied the entire first half, it was the Heart who opened the scoring through number 24, Patrick Kisnorbo, with a strong-headed goal in the 51st minute making it the Socceroo’s second for the club in three games. The goal seemed to spur Glory into action as they chased the equalizer.
The 73rd minute saw Smeltz’s header, from a resulting corner, cleared off the line only to then be headed back into the six yard box by Michael Thwaite with the dramatic scramble ending in an acrobatic finish from the emphatic number 14, Steven McGarry.
Perth Glory were undoubtedly on top after their second half goal, but the tide quickly turned as Williams came onto the scene.The Foxtel All-Stars player, who also scored last week’s late winner against Sydney FC, again came up with the goods, but not without force.
A draw would seem fair at this point, but following an error in midfield, a through ball to Williams by fellow substitute Ben Garuccio gave the Heart striker a chance to run at Glory defence and with his initial shot being blocked with strength by Vukovic, the ball pop-up invitingly for Williams who was first to react, nodding home what was to be an 85th minute winner past an outstretched Gallas.
With a further 5 minutes of added time, there was still time for Glory to push forward for an equalizer, with both Sidnei and Maclaren, a late substitute for Harold, both coming close in the final minutes.
The loss now leaves Glory in 8th position in the league and just 2 points outside a finals position. With Sydney FC sitting in 7th position and one point above Glory, Saturday's game at Allianz Stadium already has the daunting look of a 6-pointer and possibly season decider.
FT Melbourne Heart 2 Perth Glory 1
Hyundai A- League Round 18
Sunday, 9 February 2014
Melbourne Heart FC 2 (Kisnorbo 51’, Williams 81’)
Perth Glory 1 (McGarry 73’)
Lavington Sports Ground, Albury City
Referee: Lucien Laverdure
Melbourne Heart: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 3. Robbie WIELART, 7. Iain RAMSAY (22. Nicholas KALMAR 77’), 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 10. Harry KEWELL(c) (19. Benjamin GARRUCIO 59’), 13. Jonatan GERMANO 16. Aziz BEHICH, 17. Jason HOFFMAN, 21. Stefan MAUK (15. David WILLIAMS 56’), 23. Mate DUGANDZIC, 24. Patrick KISNORBO
Substitutes not used: 6. Patrick GERHARDT, 20. Tando VELHAPI (GK)
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Perth Glory: 1. Daniel VUKOVIC (GK), 5. Rostyn GRIFFITHS (8. Nebojsa MARINKOVIC 65’) , 7. Jacob BURNS (c), 9. Shane SMELTZ, 14. Steven MCGARRY, 17. Chris HAROLD (10. Jamie MACLAREN 86’), 19. Joshua RISDON, 23. Michael THWAITE, 25. Riley WOODCOCK, 28. Darvydas SERNAS (16. Sidnei SCIOLA MORAES 46’), 36. William GALLAS.
Substitutes not used: 2. Jack CLISBY, 18. Jack DUNCAN (GK)
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Perth Glory’s next game is AWAY against Sydney FC on February 15th
Perth Glory’s next HOME game is against the Western Sydney Wanderers on February 22nd at nib Stadium.