Heart steal the Glory

A late Mate Dugandzic goal sealed a fifth win in six games for Melbourne Heart at nib Stadium on Saturday night, but Glory can feel very unfortunate not to have taken at least a point from a game they dominated for long periods.

A late Mate Dugandzic goal sealed a fifth win in six games for Melbourne Heart at nib Stadium on Saturday night, but Glory can feel very unfortunate not to have taken at least a point from a game they dominated for long periods.

Billy Mehmet-s superb strike had cancelled out an equally impressive opener from Matt Thompson in the first-half before Dugandzic applied the finishing touch to a rare Heart break with only three minutes of normal time remaining.

The early exchanges were a touch cagey as several personal duels started to develop that were to last the entire ninety minutes.

Bas van den Brink and Eli Babalj immediately got stuck into an aerial battle, Jacob Burns locked horns with Fred in central midfield, while up front the tireless and abrasive Billy Mehmet occupied himself by giving the entire Heart backline and Brendan Hamill in particular, plenty to think about.

Clear-cut chances were conspicuous by their absence up until the 22nd minute, but after Heart ‘keeper Clint Bolton kept out a close range header from Mehmet, the game burst into life.

Five minutes later a timely interception from the impressive van den Brink prevented Babalj from converting an inviting low cross from overlapping right-back Michael Marrone, but Glory-s reprieve was to prove a temporary one.

Just after the half-hour Heart broke from the edge of their own area through Aziz Behich, he slipped the ball to Matt Thompson and the former Newcastle man cut inside, shrugged off the attentions of Josh Mitchell and rocketed an unstoppable right-foot shot past Danny Vukovic and into the back of the net.

The tiny knot of travelling Heart fans erupted, but their celebrations were short-lived as the hosts restored parity within two minutes.

Travis Dodd-s persistence on the edge of the box allowed Shane Smeltz to slip the loose ball to his strike partner Mehmet and the off-season arrival showed no hesitation in rifling a low shot past Bolton to claim his second goal of the campaign.

Heartened by the equaliser, Glory finished the half on the front foot and could have gone into the break with their noses in front had Mile Sterjovski-s low shot not flashed narrowly wide after Burns had picked him out with a fine deep cross from wide out on the right.

Half-time

Perth Glory 1-1 Melbourne Heart

It was the visitors who began the second period more brightly, however and Babalj could and perhaps should have restored their lead six minutes in. The rangy frontman got the better of van den Brink for the first time in the game to get on the end of a Mate Dugandzic corner, but could only direct his header wide from just eight metres out.

Having survived that early scare, Ian Ferguson-s side began to recapture their attacking fluidity, with Dodd twice coming close to unpicking the Heart defence and Smeltz unfortunate not to get on the score sheet shortly after the hour mark as Bolton just managed to get a glove on a Howarth cross as the Kiwi striker slid in.

Mehmet continued to impress not only with his work rate, but also with his superb back-to-goal ball retention and was very much the go-to man as Glory started to dominate the latter stages.

Smeltz went close on 75 minutes as Dodd supplied another teasing low cross and then Glory-s leading scorer turned provider as he teed up Burns who fired his snap-shot narrowly over from the edge of the box.

And the skipper-s luck failed to change moments later as he was harshly adjudged to have fouled Heart substitute Jason Hoffman and picked up a fifth yellow card of the season that rules him out of Friday night-s clash with Central Coast.

By this time coach Ian Ferguson had gone to his bench and thrown Tommy Amphlett and Steven McGarry into the fray and the pair were both involved in a sweeping Glory move on 83 minutes that culminated in Burns forcing a smart stop from Bolton.

A winner for the home side looked very much in the cards, but instead it was the under-pressure visitors who broke away to land a classic sucker-punch with just three minutes of normal time remaining.

Hoffman made a nuisance of himself on the edge of the box, Behich fired in a shot which Vukovic did well to parry, but Dugandzic reacted quickest to head home the loose ball and condemn Glory to a defeat they hardly deserved.