Hyundai A-League - 2010/2011 - Season 6

Torrid Derby Honours Shared
By Alan Clark

2010/2011 Hyundai A-League - Round 24
7pm, Saturday 22 January, 2011
at Docklands Stadium

Melbourne Victory FC 2
(Daniel Allsopp 10', Carlos Hernandez 31')
drew with
Melbourne Heart FC 2
(John Aloisi 45'+2, 51')

(Photo linked from FFA site)

Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart played out an entertaining two-all draw at Docklands Stadium on Saturday evening, a result neither side hoped for in their respective chases for a post-season Finals spot, but one which kept more than 30,000 spectators enthralled from start to finish.

It was a game Victory captain Kevin Muscat did not finish, dismissed on a straight red for a horribly mistimed challenge on Adrian Zahra which also concluded his game, such was its adverse effect. Muscat may not see another game this season, and so may have played his last in the A-League.

His intervention was as ugly as it was unnecessary, and surprisingly he elected not to go quietly, but to dispute the appropriateness of referee Chris Beath's sanction. With any luck, the veteran will have reviewed the video with a calmer post-game demeanour and acknowledged that he was badly in the wrong. It was a challenge which put the wrong focus on a tightly fought game, played with passion but mostly within proper standards, and which both sides had fair claims to all three points,

Danny Allsopp got the game off to a promising start with a tenth minute diving header.

Controversially, Carlos Hernandez put Victory two up from a free-kick although it was not the Costa Rican who was the cause of subsequent Heart dissatisfaction. Muscat forcefully pushed the far side of the wall, the edge Hernandez needed to bypass in order to score, causing its displacement.

Trailing now by two, John Aloisi brought Heart back in to the contest with a header in first-half added time, and then brought the game level six minutes after the re-start as the Victory defence failed to cope with Heart pressure inside the penalty-area.

The game was vital for both teams' Finals hopes, fighting, as both are, in a scrap for the remaining two positions in the Six. Even if such a prize was not on offer, these two teams would approach the game with undiminished fervour. The prize was Melbourne, a metropolis of over three million inhabitants all of whom hold sport in high regard. Top-dog bragging rights between the only two teams from the same city in the A-League would count for plenty.

Although the rivalry was just two games old at kick-off, its lack of history did not temper the contest's significance, on or off the park.

Heart had, surprisingly to many given it was just months old itself, won the first encounter. Victory had squared things with a win in the second. This was the decider, although it is a chance that these two teams may meet again in the Finals. Such a match will be no place for those of nervous disposition given the events which unfolded here.

After a torrid opening ninety seconds, during which time three ankle-cracking tackles were penalised by referee Beath, the teams settled into a period of more measured play. It was not to last, as by the time Beath sounded his whistle for the last time, nine players had been cautioned, and Muscat dismissed.

If that was evidence of the bludgeon, it was the employment of a scalpel which led to Victory crafting the opening goal just ten minutes in.

Victory had worked the ball from the right to the left, with hard-working midfielders Billy Celeski and Grant Brebner the conduit. Eventually it came to Matthew Kemp, making an effective return to the side after injury. Kemp played inside to Carlos Hernandez and continued his run goalwards. It seemed unlikely that Hernandez, so tightly marked as befits someone Heart knew was Victory's creative kernel, would be able to create the space or the angle for the return pass. Somehow, with the outside of his right foot as he himself spun, he was able to place the ball back into Kemp's unbroken stride.

Now behind the Heart backline, Kemp looked up, then whipped in a cross to far out for Heart goalkeeper Clint Bolton to attempt to claim, but still goal-side of Heart's scrambling centre-backs. Allsopp had seen the offering, and threw himself to connect with a diving header, powering the ball into the net.

Seconds later, confusion between Victory's central defender Rodrigo Vargas and goalkeeper Michael Petkovic when dealing with a free-kick from Josip Skoko caused Melbourne's blue half to be grateful the consequence was only a corner, rather than an own goal. Victory had shipped a number of own-goals this season, and was fortunate to escape on this occasion.

Vargas' intervention was better appreciated by Petkovic midway through the half when Aziz Behich launched a raid down the left, crossing to the near-post when he'd reached the bye-line. Aloisi had made a darting run to that post, correctly anticipating Behich's target, but found Vargas so tight as to deny him effective contact.

Minutes later Heart's continued pressing almost brought the reward it deserved. Victory had failed to clear the ball allowing it to pinball in and around its penalty-area. Eventually it found its way to Michael Beauchamp who had joined the attack from his deeper position. Beauchamp threw himself horizontally at the ball to punch a header towards the penalty-spot and back into the mix. Gerald Sibon swung a left foot to volley it goalwards, only to see it clear the crossbar. Victory escaped on that occasion, but a similar series of events shortly after the interval brought up the equaliser, the warning clearly unheeded.

Perhaps the significance was missed as within seconds, Victory had netted again. Heart conceded a free-kick in territory Hernandez has staked out as his own exclusive domain. Not just the eleven Heart players, but everyone in the packed stadium knew that what would follow was a direct strike on goal by Hernandez. Heart sited its wall accordingly with few noticing Muscat taking a position on its outer edge. Hernandez' shot found the top corner of the net, but Muscat had been as crucial as Hernandez in achieving this outcome.

Unseen by either referee Beath or the far-side assistant, as Hernandez made contact with the ball, Muscat had pushed the wall with both hands, using such force as to cause it to be displaced. The ball flew through the area previously covered by the wall, empty air now its only obstacle.

Heart players rallied around Beath in protest to no avail. Heart coach John van't Schip pleaded his side's case on the sidelines with the fourth official to equal result.

It would not have been surprising had this unfair misfortune derailed the Heart challenge, but the players then returned their concentration to the contest, and rightfully earnt their reward in first-half added-time.

In the last attack of the half, the ball was played forward to Aloisi inside the penalty-area who, with a lunge, was able to send it forward to Alex Terra. Terra, with his back to goal, and near the goal-line, used a touch to send the ball airborne, then sent it back towards the penalty-spot with an overhead kick. Aloisi, bull that he is in such proximity to the net, crashed in his header from point-blank range.

The second half was now nicely poised, and I wasn't long until Aloisi had brought things back level.

Things started badly for Victory with a Skoko free-kick, taken about the same location from which Hernandez had scored. Skoko's strike did not hit the net, but Sibon had managed to make connection with a header which crashed off the bar. The Victory defence again failed to clear its lines and the ball fell into Wayne Srhoj's path. Srhoj lobbed the ball forward into the confusion where Beauchamp, again making an effective forward foray, reprising the Terra move which brought up Heart's first, kicked the ball over his own head across the face of goal. Aloisi happily accepted the gift, and then roared towards the Heart support in celebration.

With forty minutes to play, it was Melbourne's red quarter in ascendancy.

Despite the urging of the majority of the over 32,000 in attendance, an exceptionally good turn up considering the city's simultaneous sporting events including the Australian Open Tennis, and an interstate cricket match, it was Heart which held the upper hand for the balance of the game.

Muscat's departure meant that the scales were tipped even more in Heart's favour for the remaining minutes, but Heart failed to capitalise. Two good chances fell to Terra late on, one where he shot extravagantly wide after being sent clean through, the other closer, but still the wrong side of the net.

Even if the greater part of a year may elapse before these sides meet again, it will be an encounter which should not be missed. It doesn't bear thinking about were both to participate in the Finals, and meet in a single cut-throat game.

2010/2011 Hyundai A-League - Round 24
7pm, Saturday 22 January, 2011
at Melbourne Football Stadium

Melbourne Victory FC 2
(Daniel Allsopp 10', Carlos Hernandez 31')
drew with
Melbourne Heart FC 2
(John Aloisi 45'+2, 51')

    Crowd: 32,231


    Melbourne Victory FC :
    Player listing:
    (4-3-1-2) 1. Michael Petkovic (gk), 13 Diogo Ferreira, 2 Kevin Muscat (c), 12 Rodrigo Vargas, 7 Matthew Kemp (17 Matthew Foschini +78), 14 Billy Celeski, 8 Grant Brebner, 11 Marvin Angulo (9 Ricardinho +66'), 3 Mate Dugandzic (15 Tom Pondeljak +55'), 16 Carlos Hernandez, 18 Daniel Allsopp.

    Substitutes not used: (rgk)

    Coach: Ernie Merrick

    Yellow Cards: Daniel Allsopp 38', Diogo Ferreira 42', Matthew Kemp 53', Marvin Angulo 54', Kevin Muscat 60', Carlos Hernandez 89', Michael Petkovic 90'+2
    Red Cards:Kevin Muscat 79'

    Melbourne Heart FC :
    Player listing:
    (4-3-3) 1. Clint Bolton (gk), 4 Simon Colosimo (c), 6 Matt Thompson, 5 Michael Beauchamp, 16 Aziz Behich (7 Rutger Worm +72'), 20 Josip Skoko, 10 Wayne Srhoj, 9 Gerald Sibon, 25 Adrian Zahra, 15 John Aloisi, 11 Alex Terra

    Substitutes not used: 8 Kristian Sarkies, 22 Nick Kalmar, 12 Peter Zois (rgk)

    Coach: John van 't Schip

    Yellow Cards: Josip Skoko 48', Gerald Sibon 74'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Chris Beath
    AR1: Luke Brennan, AR2: James Nicolopoulos; FO: Lucien Laverdure

    BOTN Player Points:
    3. Grant Brebner (Melbourne Victory)
    2. Josip Skoko (Melbourne Heart)
    1. Alex Terra (Melbourne Heart)

    Pitch rating: 8/10

    Game rating: 9/10

    Match Report and ratings: by Alan Clark

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Disclaimer: The content of this report is the responsibility of the writer. Stats are either as recorded by the writer at the game, or as supplied by FFA, or a mixture - no responsibility can be taken for their compete accuracy although we do strive for that. Any photos used here, unless attributed, are as supplied by FFA and used by permission.

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