Hyundai A-League - 2011/2012 - Season 7

Heart and the Sky Blues square it up
By Shane Derham

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 24
7:45pm, Saturday 17 March, 2012
at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium

Melbourne Heart FC 2
(Mate Dugandzic 31', Eli Babalj 36')

drew with
Sydney FC 2
(Shannon Cole 66' 77')

Sydney has come back from the brink of 2-0 down, and a first half they would rather forget, to draw with Melbourne Heart 2-2. With odds as good as $8.00 offered at halftime for the draw at fulltime, it showed that the punters believed the Heart getting the 3 points was a forgone conclusion. But it was not to be.

Barring a huge loss to Adelaide United and a draw between Sydney and Newcastle United, the Heart have sealed a finals berth in their second season in the A-League. Sydney, on the other hand, must win next week against Newcastle on Sunday or rely on Adelaide to pump the Heart and take a draw.

The equaliser for Sydney FC came in the 77th minute with substitute Shannon Cole scoring his second goal. A free kick from Scott Jamieson found an unmarked Cole again in the middle of the box. Cole's back flip sufficed as a celebration of a brace.

Sydney's first goal came in the 66th minute, with a cross by Brett Emerton, which was not dealt with by a number of Heart defenders and found Shannon Cole in the middle of the box. His header was put away, beating Clint Bolton.

Sydney came out in the second half a different team, after being dominated by the Heart in the first half. They outclassed a tired Heart side, who looked like they were just hanging on and wanted just a point from the game to solidify a spot in the finals.

Sydney had a chance to score in the 53rd minute; Nick Carle's thunderbolt hit the woodwork with Bolton diving to his right. The ball then landed at the feet of Bruno Cazarine, whose first touch shot was saved by a diving Bolton. Bolton has saved the Heart's skin plenty of times this year.

The Melbourne Heart squandered plenty of chances in the second half to finish off Sydney. Babalj had a shot hit the woodwork after beating Sebastian Ryall and Fred had an open goal to finish into, but neither took their chances. It is understandable that the crowd were on edge, as the Heart gave Sydney too many chances to get back into the match.

The first 25 minutes of the match was a see sawing battle of possession, with neither side troubling either keeper, who both only had to make one genuine save each. The last 20 minutes of the first half, on the other hand, was all Melbourne Heart. They dominated the Sydney defence and shutdown Sydney in midfield, giving them no opportunity.

Mate Dugandzic scored the first goal of the match after a lovely pass by Fred in the 31st minute. Fred easily beat Joel Chianese, who tried to drop back in defence. His pass than found Dugandzic on the left post, who blind-sided Rhyan Grant and nutmegged the goalkeeper Ivan Necevski. Grant had a match which he would like to forget. On too many occasions he was the target of the Heart's attack.

The second goal for the Heart came in the 36th minute with a lovely run by Mate Dugandzic, whose cross was deflected by Scott Jamieson. The ball than bounced in the box and Eli Babalj beat Michael Beauchamp to the ball and headed it in for his eighth goal of the season and his fourth in five games. He is now equal with John Aloisi for most goals scored in a season for the Melbourne Heart club.

The result now puts Melbourne Heart in fifth spot on 36 points with a +1 goal difference, while Sydney are now 35 points with a -6 goal difference in seventh spot and Newcastle on 35 points with a -2 goal difference. This makes for an interesting final round next week. If Melbourne Heart are beaten by 7 goals or more on Friday night against Adelaide, and Sydney draw with Newcastle and do score a goal, the Heart will be knocked out of the finals.

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 24
7:45pm, Saturday 17 March, 2012
at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium

Melbourne Heart FC 2
(Mate Dugandzic 31', Eli Babalj 36')

drew with
Sydney FC 2
(Shannon Cole 66' 77')

    Crowd: 7,498


    Melbourne Heart FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Clint Bolton (GK) 2. Michael Marrone 4. Simon Colosimo 5. Fred (c) 6. Matt Thompson 10. Wayne Srhoj 13. Jonathan Germano (17. Jason Hoffman 69') 16. Aziz Behich 18. Curtis Good 19. Eli Babalj 23. Mate Dugandzic (11. Alex Terra 75')
    Substitutes not used: 3. Brendan Hamill, 30. Sebastian Mattei (rgk)

    Coach: John vanít Schip

    Yellow Cards: Wayne Srhoj 70'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Sydney FC :
    Player listing:
    20. Ivan Necevski (gk), 4. Pascal Bosschaart (2. Sebastian Ryall 61') 5. Michael Beauchamp 7. Brett Emerton 9. Bruno Cazarine (19. Mark Bridge 81') 10. Nick Carle 15. Terry McFlynn (c) 16. Joel Chianese 17. Terry Antonis 21. Scott Jamieson 23. Rhyan Grant (12. Shannon Cole +46')
    Substitutes not used: 1. Liam Reddy (rgk)

    Coach: Vitezslav Lavicka

    Yellow Cards: Nil
    Red Cards:Nil

    Referee: Strebre Delovski tba/10
    Assistant Referees: Ashley Beecham, Hakan Anaz; Fourth official: Lucien Laverdure

    BOTN Player Points:
    > 3. Shannon Cole (SFC)
    2. Mate Dugandzic (MH)
    1. Eli Babalj (MH)

    Pitch rating: 8/10

    Game rating: 8/10

    Match Report and ratings: By Shane Derham

No photos

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