Melbourne Heart FC’s season finished in disappointment after Central Coast Mariners secured a controversial 2-1 win at Bluetongue Stadium this evening.
Melbourne Heart FC-s season finished in disappointment after Central Coast Mariners secured a controversial 2-1 win at Bluetongue Stadium this evening.
Heart, who were reduced to 10 men after Patrick Gerhardt-s first-half dismissal, were sunk by a 35th minute penalty from Hyundai A-League top scorer Daniel McBreen and a second-half strike from substitute Mitchell Duke, which handed the Mariners an unassailable 2-0 lead.
Richard Garcia clawed a goal back for Heart with 18 minutes remaining, but the Red and White were forced to stem a Mariners tide as the home side chased a third and only the heroics of goalkeeper Clint Bolton kept Heart in the contest.
Bolton returned to action after 13 matches on the sidelines - his last match was against Wellington Phoenix on 27 December 2012 - under Andrew Redmayne who had become Head Coach John Aloisi-s first choice stopper in the second half of the season.
Bolton not only received a starting berth but donned the captain-s armband and registered a solid performance in Heart-s final match of the 2012-13 campaign.
The 37-year-old veteran custodian was one of a number of changes Aloisi made to the side which fell 2-0 against Brisbane Roar last Sunday, as Ben Garuccio returned to action and David Vrankovic and Jeremy Walker were rested.
Garuccio made his first start for the Red and White since Heart-s 0-0 draw with Sydney FC last December, while Gerhardt (international duty) and Simon Colosimo (suspended) returned to partner in central defence.
Walker-s absence saw Jamie Coyne switch from centre back to right full back, while in attack, Golgol Mebrahtu was omitted.
While Heart looked to end its disappointing away record with a win and bow out on a high, the Red and White were dealt a crushing blow in the first half as Gerhardt received his marching orders in the 33rd minute.
Following a patchy opening, Heart conjured a number of chances to snatch the lead against the Mariners, including Garcia-s 27th long-range strike which was tipped out by keeper Justin Pasfield.
Pasfield then produced a superb stop to thwart a powerful Josip Tadic strike on the half hour mark.
But the decisive moment came in the 33rd minute as David Williams gifted possession to the Mariners in midfield and Daniel McBreen rounded Bolton in a sweeping forward move by the home side.
McBreen-s goalbound effort was blocked superbly by Colosimo on the line, but the rebound fell once more to McBreen who squared to Mile Stejovski.
Sterjovski's first-time effort appeared to strike Gerhardt on the chest as he desperately threw himself to cover the ball but referee Jarred Gillet pointed to the spot and sent off Gerhardt for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity.
McBreen made no mistake from the spot, ending the Mariners- streak of five missed penalties in recent matches and notching his 17th goal of the season.
It was the second consecutive week Heart were dealt a damaging blow in the first half, and the tenth penalty the Red and White had conceded this season.
Heart-s chances were compounded further in the second period as substitute Duke scored with virtually his first touch after a surging run from the silky Anthony Caceres in the 63rd minute.
Heart-s hopes were resurrected momentarily when substitute Dylan Macallister stole possession from Mariners defender Zac Anderson and squared for Garcia to tap home, but it proved merely a consolation.
With a numerical disadvantage, the Red and White were forced to ride a wave of Mariners pressure and were thankful captain and shot stopper Bolton produced a number of clinical saves to deny the home side a third.
Heart finishes the season on 27 points from 27 matches.
Match Details Hyundai A-League Round 27 Central Coast Mariners 2 (Daniel McBreen 35-, Mitchell Duke 63-) Melbourne Heart FC 1 (Richard Garcia 72-) Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Referee: Jarred Gillet Crowd: 8, 271
Melbourne Heart FC Line-Up: 1. Clint Bolton (GK), 4. Simon Colosimo (36. Eli Babalj 89'), 6. Patrick Gerhardt, 8. Matt Thompson, 10 . Josip Tadic, (9. Dylan Macallister 57-), 11. Richard Garcia, 15. David Williams, 16. Marcel Meeuwis (17. Jason Hoffman 41-), 19. Ben Garuccio, 21. Jamie Coyne, 24. Sam Mitchinson Substitutes not used: 20. Andrew Redmayne (GK). Yellow: Richard Garcia 46-, Matt Thompson 81- Red: Patrick Gerhardt 33-
Central Coast Mariners Line-Up: 20. Justin Pasfield (GK), 2. Daniel McBreen, 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Zac Anderson, 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 11. Oliver Bozanic, 13. Brent Griffiths (24. Hayden Morton), 15. Bradley McDonald, 17. Anthony Caceres (8. Adrian Pellegrino 69-), 21. Mile Sterjovski, 29. Nick Fitzgerald (19. Mitchell Duke 61-) Substitutes not used: 1. Matthew Ryan (GK), Yellow: Anthony Caceres 18-, Zac Anderson 86-, Patrick Zwaanswijk 87- Red: Nil