Heart out to secure finals berth

Melbourne Heart's bid for a first finals appearance will face a stern test when Wellington Phoenix visit AAMI Park on Saturday.

Melbourne Heart's bid for a first finals appearance will face a stern test when Wellington Phoenix visit AAMI Park on Saturday.

In only their second season in the Hyundai A-League the Heart look on track to do so with a win over Phoenix, who have their own legitimate contentions, almost certain to seal their place.

Melbourne's "second side" are now anything but and their recent return to form - undefeated in their past three games - culminated in a hard-fought 1-1 draw on arguably the Hyundai A-League's most difficult away assignment against champions Brisbane Roar.

With captain Fred and Qantas Australian U23s Aziz Behich and Mate Dugandzic back in the fold, the Heart took another step on their road to the finals with keeper Clint Bolton's inspirational penalty save in stoppage time rescuing a vital point.

A win against third-placed Phoenix will make it a club record sixth game unbeaten at home and add fuel to the chase for the last home-final position (third).

The equation for the top six is becoming simpler by the week with clubs like Melbourne Victory falling by the wayside.

Indeed if Heart defeat Wellington and Sydney lose to the Victory the club will all but seal their first Hyundai A-League finals berth and simultaneously consign the Sky Blues to the scrap heap.

For Wellington, a home final is in their sights and an even tastier second chance if they manage to leap-frog Brisbane Roar into second.

Back-to-back wins over Sydney and Gold Coast have come just at the right time for Phoenix but consecutive trips to Melbourne to face the Heart and Victory in the next fortnight may well decide just how deep they go into the finals.

Last time theses sides met at the end of January, Paul Ifill terrorised a Fred-less Heart with a brace as the Phoenix moved up to second in the table for the first time.

Those dizzying heights will be a distinct possibility again if Wellington pick up three points on Saturday.