Match Report: Melbourne Heart 0 - 0 Melbourne Victory
After much hype, the Melbourne derby failed to live up to expectations when the match ended in a nil-all draw between Melbourne Heart and Melbourne Victory at a sold-out AAMI Park. However unlike the previous 0-0 draw at Etihad Stadium earlier in the season, this match was a much more entertaining affair.
With a number of key players missing for both teams due to Olyroos duty overseas, both coaches were forced to make a number of changes to their starting line up. The biggest surprise of the night was John van't Schip opting to give 20-year old Craig Goodwin his debut start in what is Heart's biggest and most intense fixture of the year.
The result didn't help anyone, with Victory still languishing outside finals contention and Heart losing ground on the teams above them. Worryingly, Heart again dominated play and had the best chances, yet were unable to put any of their shots away, much like they did against Brisbane and Central Coast earlier in the year.
Heart dominated the first half of play, and were unlucky not to score when Jonaton Germano's header bounced back off the cross bar. Almost immediately after, Alex Terra received the ball in the box and had plenty of time to place his shot; however his effort went straight into the arms of Ante Covic.
Victory's first real chance didn't come until after the 30 minute mark, when Jean Carlos Solorzano came within a whisker of scoring, but his shot just whizzed past the far post.
Meanwhile at the other end of the pitch, Goodwin was becoming the latest Heart youngster to really make a mark. He looked solid in defence, and wasn't afraid to get forward and take on his opposition.
After the break, Victory started to gain momentum and looked increasingly dangerous. Solorzano and Archie Thompson ran riot, but both lacked the finishing touch that would have put their team ahead.But the momentum swung back in Heart's favour in the 75th minute, after a studs-up challenge by Grant Brebner earned him a straight red card.
With Victory reduced to ten men, the Red & White pressed hard for a winner. Heart's best chance for the game came in the 78th minute when David Williams found himself alone on the right hand side of the pitch, after easily getting past Fabio. Williams then squared the ball to Kristian Sarkies who had plenty of time to take a touch, but his first-touch attempt went blazing over the crossbar and into the crowd. Their next chance came soon after, when Covic denied Goodwin a dream debut by spectacularly saving his long range thunderbolt.
They had one last chance in stoppage time, but Michael Marrone's long range effort went wide of the post.
Neither side wanted this result, and will now have to work even harder in the final seven rounds of the season if they want to secure their spots in the finals.
Victory will now take on Central Coast Mariners at home next week, whilst Heart play Newcastle Jets away.