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Victory made to sweat in derby win

Posted by on 04/12/2018

Heart’s Andrew Redmayne can’t stop Archie Thompson scoring Victory’s opening goal. Melbourne Victory v Melbourne Heart. Mark Milligan kicks Victory’s 2nd goal at Etihad Stadium.2nd February 2013.Picture Sebastian Costanzo. The Age.

Melbourne Victory squared the derby ledger with cross town rivals Melbourne Heart and put itself right on the heels of league leaders Central Coast, but it was made to work hard before sealing a 2-1 triumph in a cracking clash before a bumper crowd of over 41,000 at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

The win now means Victory has won three of the nine meetings between the two clubs, including two this season. Heart has won three, with three drawn, but having lost this one to a needlessly conceded penalty and the previous encounter to a stoppage time winner the red and whites will feel that they haven’t had the rub of the green in intra-city clashes this season.

But that is how it often seems when things are not going your way –  that no matter  how hard you try, you aren’t going to get the breaks at the critical moments.

The truth, however, is that invariably teams make their own luck. Victory this season has got some breaks mainly because it has worked hard and in most, if not all, games been the better side

To a great extent Heart has been the author of its own misfortune, its inconsistency and  inability to hold on to leads or failure to take full advantage of promising situations costing it dear. To give it its due, the one fixture in which it has never looked out of contention is the derby, although it may be asked why it is able to get up for this game and not others.

Nothing changed in this game, in which Heart’s much reshuffled side, stacked with young and inexperienced players covering for injured or recently departed team-mates, seized the initiative

Nathan Coe in the Victory goal was – certainly early on – the busier of the two custodians. He was first forced to save from Jonathan Germano and then from teenage full back Jeremy Walker, who, linking with Richie Garcia down the right flank, needed little encouragement to get forward.

Eli Babalj, straight back into the starting line up a week after his return from Serbia following his abortive transfer to Red Star, spooned a close range effort over the bar after  terrific move down the left.  Coe then rescued his team with a tremendous save after another inventive move, this time down the right, involving Garcia and Walker before Josip Tadic got his shot off.

This was certainly not the performance most of the crowd had expected, with Victory, now many people’s idea of the A-League title favourite, at short odds to win this game.

John Aloisi, Heart’s coach, alluded to his side’s underdog status pre-match when he said no-one expected them to win this game – except themselves. His players looked intent on proving him right.

But a side of Victory’s quality will not be on the ropes through the whole game, and having weathered Heart’s early storm it began to flex its muscles, Andrew Redmayne in the Heart goal pulling off a quality save of his own at the other end from Marco Rojas.

It somehow seemed inevitable that having had the best of the battle so far but failing to take their chances, Heart would fall behind.

And that’s exactly what happened in the 29th minute when Archie Thompson, for eight seasons the A-League’s most consistent finisher, put the navy blues in front, running on to a perfectly lofted through ball from Marcos Flores, springing Heart’s high defensive line and shooting calmly past Redmayne.

Thompson almost doubled the advantage two minutes later as Victory, buoyed by its lead, began to exert itself. Flores again set up the chance for his forward partner but this time Redmayne saved.

As Victory enjoyed its best period of the game Redmayne again proved his worth with a fine save low at his near post when Thompson – who else – skipped round Walker and shot from close range.

Both sides were forced into early substitutions, Victory losing teenage defender Nick Ansell to a recurrence of the groin injury which kept him out of action earlier in the season and Josip Tadic picking up an injury after a heavy challenge. Golgol Mebrahtu, who has made quite an impression as an impact player for Heart came on and almost wrote himself into the headlines with a cracking long range free kick in first half stoppage time which had Coe beaten but hit the bar.

Victory was able to put itself in the drivers seat early in the second half thanks to a totally unnecessary foul by Germano.

The Argentinian shoved his countryman Flores over in an off-the-ball incident while Flores stood in the penalty area awaiting a cross. Referee Strebre Delovski had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, and Mark Milligan delivered heavy punishment for Germano’s error when he beat Redmayne with the penalty in the 56th minute.

Heart had a mountain to climb, but  John Aloisi’s men showed plenty of spirit and gradually clawed themselves back into contention on the back of a fine individual goal from David Williams. The striker seized on Nick Kalmar’s flick and made space for himself in the Victory penalty area before lashing a high shot past Coe with 17 minutes remaining.

Williams almost fashioned an equaliser shortly afterwards when Golgol met his raking cross only to direct his header just wide of Coe’s post. That was as close as Heart got, and while Victory dream of a Grand Final berth they must scrap just to make the top six.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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