Preview: Melbourne Heart v Sydney FC
Out with a bang! Help Heart to one last win as the curtain comes down on a thrilling debut season.
Melbourne Heart v Sydney FC Saturday 12th February 7:00pm
It-s been a season of near misses for these two sides as their Hyundai A-League campaigns draw to a close, but it will undoubtedly be Melbourne Heart who look back on the last few months more warmly.
They may have fallen just short of making it into the top six, but what a fine debut it has been, and fans of the league-s newest club will have so many great memories and so much optimism about them as they cheer their side on for one last time before the close-season.
The first ever Melbourne derby, their first Hyundai A-League win, the unbelievable fight-back against Victory last month, the late, late winner on their first trip to Sydney… there are some golden moments to recall. And who would bet against this blossoming club doing even better next time round? This is certainly a club on the up.
Their opponents on Saturday have threatened to deceive on a number of occasions but will be glad enough just to get the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season over and done with so that they can concentrate on their Asian Champions League campaign.
What a contrast their final weekend of the season will be to the buzz around the club this time last year, when The Cove burst with noise and colour as Vitezslav Lavicka-s men were taking on a Melbourne side in the knowledge that a win would secure top spot and bring silverware to Sydney Football Stadium. This season, they face a team from Melbourne knowing that their Hyundai A-League season is already over.
Still, while the Sky Blues have to sit with an empty trophy cabinet and watch as six other sides compete for the ultimate prize that they won in such dramatic fashion in Melbourne 11 months ago, they can certainly look ahead with hope. Not only do they have a thrilling Champions League campaign to look forward to but the nature of the Hyundai A-League means that this season can be no indication of what will follow when the domestic competition starts up again in earnest in August.
Just look at Brisbane Roar, who had a horror campaign last time round, yet have strolled to the Premier-s Plate. So, Sydney will hope to bring an end to a disappointing season with a bang, by winning in Victoria.
While there is no silverware to be played for on Saturday, there are plenty of personal battles to be won. Heart-s side is peppered with former Sky Blues. Most notably, the man between the sticks for the home side will be keen to keep a clean sheet. Much to the pride of legendary former Sydney stopper, Clint Bolton, Heart have yet to concede a goal to the 2010 Champions.
After a fairly bleak 0-0 stalemate at AAMI Park, they made their first ever appearance at Sydney Football Stadium and, after weathering a Sydney storm, came away with all three points thanks to a last-gasp goal from Adrian Zahra. Meanwhile, at the other end of the field, John Aloisi will be looking to end the season in a similar fashion to last year, when he bashed a long-range screamer into the top corner.
This time, of course, he-ll be doing it against Sydney, rather than for them. Having at times struggled to live up to his marquee standing in Sydney, he has had a really decent season for his new side - with his recent brace against bitter rivals Victory ensuring a hero-s status amongst the red and white faithful.
Heart fans, this is the last chance you-ll get to see your side until the new season rolls around, so make the most of it. Get yourself along to AAMI Park one more time and make a whole lot of noise. Your team has offered you a fine first season - with lots of thrills and plenty of commitment - so show them your appreciation with non-stop noise and colour and an ovation that the men in stripes deserve!