Hyundai A-League Season 8

Heart and Wellington share
spoils in the sunshine
By Jeremy Ruane
(courtesy of")

A-League 2012/2013 - Round 2
3pm, Sunday 14 October, 2012 - Melbourne Football Stadium

Melbourne Heart FC 1
(Matt Thompson 19')

drew with
Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Paul Ifill 47')

Ten-man Melbourne Heart and a makeshift Wellington Phoenix combination featuring four debutants fought out an enthralling 1-1 draw at a sun-drenched AMII Stadium on 14 October, in front of 10,907 fans.

It was a spirited beginning by the decidedly under-strength visitors, who, as well as missing coach Ricki Herbert and seven players on international duty, lost two of their replacements to illness in the days leading up to the match.

But they were the first to threaten, Alex Smith’s free-kick beyond the far post finding Michael Boxall, whose header inside for Andrew Durante was prevented from reaching Wellington’s captain by the hard-working Richard Garcia in the third minute.

The home team sought an early opener three minutes later, only to see Jacob Spoonley dash out to block well at the feet of Josip Tadic as he hared after a Matthew Thompson pass.

Melbourne appeared content to employ long-ball tactics against the Wellingtonians, but it was some ponderous play in their own defensive third which almost proved their undoing on the quarter-hour. Thompson’s lazy pass invited Tom Biss to charge into the penalty area, but Clint Bolton was alert to the danger and saved well at the feet of one of four debutants in Wellington’s starting line-up.

Spoonley was another, and he was right behind a Tadic effort in the eighteenth minute after Fred had contrived to open up his old club’s defence with a piercing pass. But the ‘keeper hadn’t a prayer two minutes later, as Melbourne opened the scoring courtesy a scintillating counter-attack.

Smith sprayed the ball wide to Paul Ifill as Wellington pressed, but a slip by the visitors’ talisman was pounced on by Aziz Behich, who set sail downfield at a great rate of knots.

He scampered from penalty box to penalty box before playing the ball inside to Fred, who steered the ball into the stride of Thompson, who was arriving at pace on the edge of the penalty area. He deftly steered his shot into the top left-hand corner of Spoonley’s goal - a splendid strike to cap off a fulminating move in style.

It was a blow from which Wellington briefly reeled - indeed, it was a good ten minutes before they enjoyed some decent possession! When they did, Smith, Vince Lia and Ifill combined to present Manny Muscat with the chance to shoot, but it ended up being more of a Maltese cross from the native of that country.

Melbourne, following the goal, had held the upper hand, without threatening to increase their advantage. But after Bolton had, at the second attempt, dealt with Luke Rowe’s tame free-kick, and Ifill had gone close with a curling effort from the edge of the penalty area, they looked to net a second strike before the interval.

They hadn’t reckoned on Spoonley, however. The on-loan ‘keeper - FIFA Club World Cup finalists Auckland City is the club for whom he regularly dons the gloves - stood his ground superbly to save at the feet of Fred in the 39th minute, after he had been played in by Patrick Gerhardt’s early ball forward.

Three minutes later, Smith was caught in possession by Garcia. Dylan MacAllister picked up the pieces and played in Fred, who lifted the ball over the advancing figure of Spoonley but also the goal behind him.

Muscat was next to be caught in possession, Garcia again the ball-winner for the home team. This time, the midfielder steered the ball into Tadic’s stride, and his driven near post bullet was tipped over the bar by Spoonley, who was relieved to see a downward header from Garcia bounce over his crossbar following a well flighted corner to the far post by Mate Dugandzic in stoppage time.

Dugandzic was involved again with the last attack of the half, having been released down the right at pace by MacAllister. The speedster’s cross had Fred as its target, but the retreating figure of Boxall averted the danger, even though he gave his team a scare by colliding with Spoonley in the process.

Wellington were struggling in midfield towards the end of the half, but the half-time break allowed caretaker coach Chris Greenacre to address the issue, and they started the second half strongly, so much so that they were level within three minutes of the resumption.

A raking clearance from Spoonley forced Melbourne to concede a corner inside the opening ninety seconds of the half. Rowe whipped it to the far post, where Ifill rose to head it inside and down.

A missed clearance allowed Smith to let fly from four yards out, and his volley was destined for the back of the net when the reflex actions of an ungloved hand diverted the ball up and over the bar.

Simon Colosimo’s reward for impersonating Gordon Banks was a red card from well-performed referee Kris Griffiths-Jones, who had no alternative but to send off the defender, given this was a deliberate handball offence. Ifill sent Bolton the wrong way from the spot - 1-1.

Suddenly, there was only one team in it. The ten men were hanging on for dear life as Wellington looked to make the extra man count on the scoreboard, inexperienced line-up or otherwise.

Smith thundered an eighteen yarder past the far post following good work on the right by Biss and a wicked cross from Vince Lia which Bolton was forced to paw away from Ifill’s head in the 53rd minute.

Two minutes later, Andrew Durante’s interception and instant pass invited Ifill to ping a cross-field ball to Lia, whose delicious cross to the far post was destined for the head of Stein Huysegems until Melbourne substitute David Vrankovic managed to divert it to safety.

In the 58th minute, Bolton came close to gifting the visitors the lead when directing a clearance straight to Smith while near the edge of his penalty area and under pressure from Huysegems. Smith’s instinctive pass allowed Ifill to let fly with a thirty yard chip, but Bolton had recovered, and was back to nonchalantly deal with the shot.

Seconds later, a deflected effort from Biss landed on the roof of Bolton’s net as Wellington continued to press, while Louis Fenton’s fine work on the hour saw him skip past Behich as if he wasn’t there before picking out Ifill with a cross. His goal-bound header was blocked to safety by Gerhardt.

Behich nearly made amends for that blemish seconds later, rattling the side-netting after Lia had gifted possession to him. Spoonley’s resulting goal-kick was flicked on by Smith into Ifill’s stride, but his lob of the advancing figure of Bolton arced over the crossbar.

Having weathered the storm, Melbourne began to get a foothold in the game again, and in the 66th minute were presented with a glorious chance to regain the lead. Vrankovic picked out Fred with a pass which allowed the home team’s captain to run at the visitors’ retreating rearguard before slipping the sphere into the stride of Michael Marrone.

Sadly for the local faithful, the fullback produced a defender’s finish - high, wide and far from handsome past the near post when team-mates were queuing up inside him to provide the finishing touch.

After Bolton smothered a deflected volley from Biss, Dugandzic dragged a twenty yarder past the post before Melbourne fashioned their best chance of the half in the 77th minute.

Fred once more was on manoeuvres, and let fly from twenty-five yards with a drive which Spoonley parried, low to his right. Following in was MacAllister, who latched onto the ball and lashed it past the prone goalkeeper, only for Boxall, racing back to cover the gaping goal, to produce a superb goal-line clearance and maintain parity on the scoreboard.

Cue a thrilling finale, with both teams pressing for a winning goal, only for final balls to fall foul of resolute defences intent on ensuring their side held what they had - a share of the spoils. Neither rearguard was to be breached again, the final 1-1 outcome ensuring both teams maintained their unbeaten starts to the season with a point both will see as having been earned, given the circumstances of each side.

A-League 2012/2013 - Round 2
3pm, Sunday 14 October, 2012 - Melbourne Football Stadium

Melbourne Heart FC 1
(Matt Thompson 19')
drew with
Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Paul Ifill 47')



    Melbourne Heart FC :
    Player listing:
    Bolton (gk); Marrone, Gerhardt, Colosimo (RC), Behich; Garcia, Fred, Thompson; Dugandzic, MacAllister (Kalmar +82'), Tadic (Vrankovic +50')

    Substitutes not used: (rgk)

    Coach: John Aloisi

    Yellow Cards: Fred 45', MacAllister 67'
    Red Cards: Simon Colosimo 47'

    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    Spoonley (gk); Lia, Boxall, Durante, Rowe; Muscat, Smith, Biss (Boyd +81); Ifill, Huysegems, Fenton
    Substitutes not used: tba (rgk)

    Coach: Ricki Herbert away on international duties for NZ

    Yellow Cards: Boxall 23', Alex Smith 70', Manny Muscat 83'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones 8/10
    Assistant Ref 1: Luke Brennan, Assistant Ref 2: Johnathan Barriero; 4th Official: Alex Azcurra

    Pitch rating: 8/10

    Game rating: 8/10

    Best players :

    3. Richard Garcia (MH)
    2. Tom Biss (WP)
    1. Andrew Durante (WP)

    Match Report by Jeremy Ruane

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, are as attributed.

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