Heart hopes almost gone

Melbourne Heart coach John van 't Schip hasn't given up hope of the Hyundai A-League new boys making the finals but admits the equation became much harder following their 1-1 draw with Central Coast at a wet AAMI Park on Friday night.

Melbourne Heart coach John van 't Schip hasn't given up hope of the Hyundai A-League new boys making the finals but admits the equation became much harder following their 1-1 draw with Central Coast at a wet AAMI Park on Friday night.

The point leaves Heart on 34 points with one regular season match remaining and one point behind Wellington Phoenix, who has two games in hand over the Melbourne club.

"Mathematically we are still alive, we just have to hope all the games that Wellington and Newcastle play they lose and we have one game to play - we have to win that," van 't Schip said.

In a match that was fortunate to even start at all after heavy rain lashed the ground before kick-off and resulted in an 82-minute delay, the Heart took the lead in bizarre fashion in the 49th minute.

Defender Matt Thompson hit a speculative free-kick 15 yards inside his own half that skidded off the damp turf and caught out teenage Mariners goalkeeper Matt Ryan.

Ryan desperately scrambled back towards his own goal-line, but it was in vain as he fumbled under pressure and watched in horror as the ball went over the line in a piece of play he will never forget.

But the Mariners struck back inside 60 seconds when Daniel McBreen scored his fifth goal of the season at the second bite of the cherry after his initial volley from Josh Rose's cross was stopped by Heart goalkeeper Clint Bolton.

The point gained means Mariners now move four points clear of Adelaide United in the battle for second spot, but the result still handed ladder-leaders Brisbane Roar the Premiers Plate.

Central Coast coach Graham Arnold praised his players performance in what he described as tough conditions.

"I thought we were the better side, we had the better chances and looked the more likely team to score," Arnold said.

"Mentally it was difficult for the players who had to warm up three or four times, they kept getting the message that they would look on the field at 10 past eight, half-past eight, then 10 to nine."

Both sides have some major injury concerns, with Mariners striker Matt Simon coming off midway through the first-half, but of greater importance was the knee injury suffered by retiring Heart midfielder Josip Skoko.

The former Qantas Socceroo came off at half-time and is in severe doubt for the club's final match of the season against Sydney FC on February 12, meaning he may have played his last top-flight match.

Of better news for the Heart, was the form of left-back Aziz Behich, whose mazy runs were a feature of the performance, along with a typically rock-solid showings from skipper Simon Colosimo and his central defensive partner Thompson.

While it was somewhat Beckham-esque, Thompson's 60-yard strike was initially a hopeful free kick that will now feature on a number of highlight reels across the world.

Heart searched valiantly for a winner during the latter stages of the second-half with Dutchman Gerald Sibon's rasping shot just missing the top right-hand corner, while Ryan redeemed himself for his earlier howler with a top-draw save to deny Wayne Srhoj.

But the Mariners could have nicked a winner, if not for the timely intervention of the ever-impressive Behich, who cleared the ball off his own line on two occasions as the Week 26 encounter ebbed until the final whistle.

Melbourne Heart 1 (Thompson 49) Central Coast Mariners 1 (McBreen 50) Crowd: 3667 at AAMI Park, Melbourne