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Phoenix close in on home Final
By Shane Derham

A-League 2011/2012 - Round 23
5:30pm, Saturday 10 March, 2012 - Melbourne Football Stadium


Melbourne Heart FC 1
(Eli Babalj 32')

drew with
Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Paul Ifill 80')



(Linked from FFA site)

The Wellington Phoenix have ridden into Melbourne and stolen a point and possibly a home final off the Melbourne Heart.

An 80th minute goal by Paul Ifill, sealed the draw for the Phoenix, who were dominated in the first half by the Heart but matched them blow for blow in the second. The only thing stopping Ifill's shot from landing in Devonport before the Spirit of Tasmania was the back of the net.

It was lovely lead up play down the left hand side by the Phoenix, which found a free Ifill in the middle of the park. His shot went between the legs of a sliding Simon Colosimo and beat Clint Bolton, who honestly had no chance of getting near it, on the near post.

The first half was clearly dominated by a Melbourne Heart hungry for the 3 points that might have secured them a home final. But that was not to be.

The bulk of the chances came through the in form striker, Eli Babalj, who had more chances to shoot than the former Iraqi Firing squad. After all those chances, Babalj scored the first goal of the match, in the 32nd minute, finishing surprisingly with his head. Mate Dugandzic earned a free kick which he took from the right hand side and than found Babalj on the far post. The goal now makes Babalj the all time lead goal scorer for the club with 9 goals.

The first half was a fiery affair. This came to a head when Andrew Durante in the 40th minute tackled Jonathan Germano and an all in brawl ensued. All on the ground viewed Manny Muscat running in and fish hooking the face of Mate Dugandzic.

Yellow cards were issued to Durante for the tackle and Dugandzic and Sigmund for their part in the brawl. Muscat's actions did not draw the attention of any of the four officials, but may draw the attention of the match review panel early in the week.

The second half was more evenly matched with both sides creating chances but they could not find the target except for Ifill. The Phoenix have mastered the art of counter attacking football, with at times only having the one player not behind the ball. But this style of play suits them well, especially playing away from home.

The Heart on the other hand, found plenty of space whenever they burst through the midfield of the Phoenix, but every time the player went to make that final pass, they would hold up the ball for too long, causing the attacking players to stop their runs or come back from an offside position.

The 1 point result for the Phoenix solidifies their spot in the Top Three with a chance to host two finals before having the meet the loser of first and second. The Heart hang on to the fifth spot with the hope that the Melbourne Victory will put Sydney to the sword which will all but guarantee them a spot in the finals.



A-League 2011/2012 - Round 23
5:30pm, Saturday 10 March, 2012 - Melbourne Football Stadium

Melbourne Heart FC 1
(Eli Babalj 32')
drew with
Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Paul Ifill 80')

    Crowd: 6,759

    MATCH STATS:

    Melbourne Heart FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Clint Bolton (gk), 2. Michael Marrone, 4. Simon Colosimo, 5. Fred (c) (3. Brendan Hamill 88'), 6. Matt Thompson (27. Chris Goodwin 62'), 10. Wayne Srhoj, 13. Jonathan Germano (11. Alex Terra 81'), 16. Aziz Behich, 18. Curtis Good, 19. Eli Babalj, 23. Mate Dugandzic

    Substitutes not used: 30. Sebastian Mattei (rgk)

    Coach: John vanít Schip

    Yellow Cards: Mate Dugandzic 42'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Mark Paston (gk), 2. Manny Muscat, 3. Tony Lochhead (14. Mirjan Pavlovic 64'), 6. Tim Brown, 8. Paul Ifill, 9. Chris Greenacre, 12. Nick Ward (13. Nikolas Tsattalios 72'), 17. Vince Lia 18. Ben Sigmund, 21. Daniel Sanchez (24. Alexander Smith 64'), 22. Andrew Durante
    Substitutes not used: 20. Tony Warner (rgk)

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Andrew Durante 42', Ben Sigmund 42', Manny Muscat 44'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Peter Green 8/10
    Assistants: George Lakrindis, Matthew Cream; 4th Official: Lucien Laverdure

    Pitch rating: 9/10

    Game rating: 7/10

    Best players :

    3. Wayne Shroj (MH)
    2. Andrew Durante (WP)
    1. Mate Dugandzic (MH)

    Match Report by Shane Derham

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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