Heart, Sky Blues jostle for finals berth

Melbourne Heart will be aiming to sew up their first ever finals spot in the Hyundai A-League when they welcome Sydney FC to AAMI Park on Saturday.

Melbourne Heart will be aiming to sew up their first ever finals spot in the Hyundai A-League when they welcome Sydney FC to AAMI Park on Saturday.

The Sydneysiders, however, remain the only side outside the current top six that can still reach the finals and Vitezslav Lavicka will be hoping his side can get a result to keep the possibility of a dream farewell to his managerial stint alive.

Should Newcastle Jets account for Brisbane Roar earlier on Saturday, Sydney FC must nab all three points to ensure their finals fate is in their own hands heading into the final round of fixtures.

A draw would ensure the Sky Blues remain one point behind Heart heading into the last round, where Lavicka's men take on Newcastle, and Heart face Adelaide.

Heart's young brigade almost saw them take a vital step to the finals when at home to Wellington on Saturday, but a stunning late equaliser from striker Paul Ifill ensured the Melbourne side only took one point from the contest.

They, too, will be eyeing off a celebratory departure for coach John van 't Schip, with the Dutchman flagging a return to Europe at season's end, and with one foot in the finals, the boys in red and white know a win over Sydney would guarantee their top-six spot.

Recent results from both sides suggest there could only be one or two goals in the contest, as Heart have not scored more than once in any one of their past 12 matches.

The last time they did, however, was a 4-0 thrashing away to Sydney - a result the Harbour City side will no doubt be keen to make amends for on Saturday.

Sydney, themselves, have scored only twice in their past three matches, paling in comparison to their run of scoring at least twice in each of the five games preceding that.

The key men for the Heart will be exciting attacker Mate Dugandzic and influential midfielder Fred.

Dugandzic was in fine touch against the Phoenix, delivering in several dangerous crosses, one of which found the head of striker Eli Babalj for their only goal of the game.

Ex-Victory star Fred played 88 minutes of the draw with Wellington, and his class on the ball will be imperative to their hopes of ensuring finals football at the weekend.

Whichever way the result goes, one of Sydney or Melbourne will be a step closer to farewelling their foreign tactician in the finals, while the other will be closer to a regular-season departure.