Melbourne Heart just missed its best chance to get its first win of the season. After an equally poor start, Wellington Phoenix have now won consecutive games and leave Heart all alone at the bottom of the A-League ladder. Again it was a Stein Huysegems goal that gave the Phoenix three points, this time earning Wellington its first ever win in Melbourne. The 1-0 score line does not reflect the bevy of chances for both sides but it is a fairly representative reflection of how this season has turned just before New Years.
Carlos Hernandez hit the post, David Williams missed a sitter, Harry Kewell pulled one wide, Jeremy Brockie missed another clear chance and the game inched along with the very real possibility of a scoreless draw, despite all the good looks. Yet it was Huysegems who poked in the late winner after terrible defending by Heart gave substitute Tyler Boyd space to pick out the Belgian striker.
The victory was the first ever in the city of Melbourne for the Phoenix, having failed to do so on fifteen previous attempts. It also pulls Wellington up to a tie with Adelaide United for eighth place, though the Reds do have a better goal difference and a game in hand. While the wins haven't been pretty, Ernie Merrick's side has finally gotten regular playing time from its core players and has taken advantage of two weakened teams: Sydney FC due to injuries and the long trip across the ditch, and Melbourne Heart, who are weak of spirit.
As Heart look likely to succumb to a AU$12m takeover, John Aloisi's tenure seems sure to come to a premature end, especially given the unlikelihood of a win any time soon. Road games at Central Coast Mariners and Perth Glory come before a home game against Newcastle Jets on January 17. As it stands, Heart are only averaging a point every three games.
Wellington will try to make it three on the trot next week, but to do so would be the most impressive so far with the Round 13 game coming at Western Sydney Wanderers on New Years Day. As mentioned, Heart go to the Mariners on Sunday January 5.
WEL Huysegems (Boyd) 75'
Melbourne Heart: Redmayne; Behich (Mebrahtu 81'), Wielaert, Gerhardt, Hoffman; Murdocca, Kalmar (Migliorini 81'); Williams (Ramsay 60'), Kewell, Dugandzic; Mifsud
Unused substitutes: Velaphi, Vrankovic
Wellington Phoenix: Moss; Muscat, Durante, Sigmund, Fenton; Cunningham (Bertos 59'), Riera, Lia; Hernandez (Hicks 78'); Huysegems, Brockie (Boyd 72')
Unused substitutes: Italiano, Boxall