A Shinji Ono penalty has handed a 10-man Western Sydney Wanderers a well-deserved 1-0 win over Melbourne Heart at Parramatta Stadium.
A Shinji Ono penalty has handed a 10-man Western Sydney Wanderers a well-deserved 1-0 win over Melbourne Heart at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday night.
The Wanderers were forced to play more than 75 minutes one man short after defender Jerome Polenz was marched for hauling down David Williams as he was clear on goal.
But the visitors failed to capitalise with their spot-kick and the numerical advantage to eventually come unstuck when Ono scored 17 minutes from time.
After the tireless Youssouf Hersi was dragged down by David Vrankovic in the box, the Japanese midfielder stepped up and sent Andrew Redmayne the wrong way much to the delight of the crowd.
It was Ono's fifth goal of the campaign and was a just reward for a superb performance from the home side, who would have won more comfortably if not for the form of Redmayne in the Heart goal.
The victory sees the Wanderers move up to third spot on the A-League ladder while the Heart are still searching for their first win outside of Melbourne this season.
The only piece of good news for the visitors was the sight of Vince Grella making a return to action, coming off the bench for the final 25 minutes in his first appearance in senior football since September 2011.
It was a cagey start by both sides but the match sprung to life on 13 minutes when Polenz was dismissed.
Mark Bridge turned over possession in midfield allowing the visitors to start an attack, with Jonathan Germano releasing Williams clear through on goal.
Just as the pacy winger was about to shoot he was clipped by the German defender, giving referee Strebre Delovski no option but to brandish a red card.
But the Wanderers dodged a bullet with Josip Tadic's weak penalty easily saved by goalkeeper Ante Covic down to his left.
Despite the numerical disadvantage it was the home side who then started to dominate the match, with Bridge going close with a low left-foot shot which was well saved by Redmayne.
Bridge then turned creator on the half-hour, producing a delicate chip over the top for Ono who found himself one-on-one with Redmayne but again the keeper produced the goods.
The Heart simply couldn't get anything going in attack, with their best chances mainly coming from long range.
And they were lucky not to concede a penalty of their own right on the stroke of half-time, when an Iacopo La Rocca header appeared to strike the arm of Tadic.
After a rev-up from coach John Aloisi at the break, the Heart showed a lot more purpose from the resumption and almost went in front through Williams.
Nick Kalmar's cross was misjudged by La Rocca, allowing Williams to get in behind but his shot from a tight angle flashed into the side netting.
But the Wanderers continued to look dangerous and had two gilt-edged chances in the space of three minutes to go in front.
Both Hersi and Kresinger found themselves bearing down on goal but on both occasions Redmayne had an answer.
But there was little the Heart shot-stopper could do to prevent his side eventually going behind, as Ono coolly converted from the spot on 73 minutes.
The Heart almost stole an equaliser at the death in a frantic movement which saw Covic block shots from both Williams and Tadic as the home side hung on to continue their fairytale debut season.
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Ono 73 pen) Melbourne Heart 0 Bet365.com Man of the Match: Youssouf Hersi The all-action midfielder gave everything to the Wanderers cause - no wonder he's a cult hero. Crowd: 14,624 @ Parramatta Stadium