Perth steal point

Melbourne Heart have been denied a first-ever Hyundai A-League victory with Perth Glory grabbing a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw at AAMI Park.

Melbourne Heart have been denied a first-ever Hyundai A-League victory with Perth Glory grabbing a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw at AAMI Park.

Heart, who had managed just one point from their previous three matches, looked to have secured the points with a dominant first half. Gerald Sibon put them ahead from the penalty spot in just the fifth minute before an unfortunate own goal from Michael Marrone put Perth back in the contest.

However, a well-struck shot from the impressive Nick Kalmar ten minutes before half time put Heart back in front. Goalkeeper Clint Bolton looked like proving the hero for the home side late in the match, producing two great saves from the boot of Robbie Fowler and Naum Sekulovski.

But deep into injury time, Michael Baird went down under a challenge from Kliment Taseski and debutant referee Kurt Ams pointed to the spot, much to the horror of Heart’s players.

Fowler stepped up to easily convert the penalty and Perth could feel as though they were fortunate to have snatched a point so late in the contest.

Heart coach John van ‘t Schip said the fact his players had come within seconds of securing their first win and had it snatched away, was difficult to take.

“We have been working very hard to get that first win. Today it seemed to be there, but as we all know, the game is more than 90 minutes and that was clear today in the last minute,” he said.

Perth coach David Mitchell admitted there was a touch of luck in the late penalty, but that it had been just reward for the way his side had dominated the second half.

“With that second-half performance we should have got something out of the game. We got in their penalty box, created chances and their keeper has made a couple of outstanding saves,” he said.

“You make your own luck….we had a right go and that’s probably paid dividends.”

Heart had a penalty appeal turned down inside the first minute when Terra powered through and then collided with Tando Velaphi.

Any angst the Brazilian may have had about Ams’ decision not to award a penalty would have dissipated about a minute later when Terra broke through again and was upended by an awkward challenge from Naum Sekulovski. This time Ams pointed to the spot and Sibon put Heart in front for the first time in their short history.

Perth looked for a quick response and Todd Howarth could have done better when given a chance inside the first ten minutes. Meanwhile Terra continued to cause his fair share of headaches down the right, aided by some great link up work with Kalmar.

However, the visitors found themselves back on terms in bizarre fashion on 19 minutes, when Fowler whipped in a cross and a defensive header from Brendan Hamill hit a completely unaware Marrone at the far post. He instinctively stuck out his chest, but instead of clearing the ball to safety, he put the ball into the back of the net.

While it was a setback, it didn’t change Heart’s attacking approach to the game. Terra continued to cause all manner of troubles, while Kalmar and Wayne Srhoj were creating chances aplenty.

On 36 minutes, they got their reward as a Dean Heffernan free kick was headed the wrong way by Rutger Worm only for Kalmar to latch onto it and finish brilliantly from a difficult angle and make it 2-1.

The nature of the game changed in the second half, with Heart prepared to sit and absorb pressure and test Perth’s patience. By and large it worked, with only a couple of chances to Branko Jelic and Robbie Fowler in the first 25 minutes.

On 71 minutes, Bolton produced a fantastic save off Fowler’s boot. Set-up by some great work from Todd Howarth, who nutmegged Kliment Taseski and then got a great cross to Fowler, the Liverpool legend did everything but find the back of the net.

Bolton came to the rescue on several other occasions, rising high to meet a number of corners and also diving at the feet of Sekulovski as he was about to pull the trigger.

However, the keeper could do little but watch on as Baird hit the deck two minutes into extra time and then Fowler scored his first goal for his new club with a well-taken penalty.

Melbourne Heart 2 (Sibon 5p, Kalmar 36)
Perth Glory 2 (Marrone (19og), Fowler 90p)
Crowd: 5,878 at AAMI Park