A derby stalemate was hardly the desired result given the way the game panned out, but if someone had offered a guaranteed point to the fans prior to kick off, I suspect most would probably have taken it, such were the Heart’s selection problems heading into the match.
A derby stalemate was hardly the desired result given the way the game panned out, but if someone had offered a guaranteed point to the fans prior to kick off, I suspect most would probably have taken it, such were the Heart-s selection problems heading into the match. The Melbourne Heart lived up to its name in the derby, putting on a class display that only lacked a decisiveness in the final third of the pitch. Despite the loss of many key players, Melbourne Heart-s depth and faith in youth shone through as they went on to boss the game, almost in its entirety.
It would only count for a point, but the greatest reward comes in the shape of Heart-s latest youth star to step up to the mantle of senior A-League football. Craig Goodwin gave everyone a little preview of what is to come from yet another young Australian talent that is being nurtured to its full potential by the Melbourne Heart philosophy. The Melbourne Derby was a fitting occasion for Goodwin-s statement of intent too, as it was the same from which the man he replaced, Aziz Behich, launched his stunning A-League campaign and rise to Olyroo regular.
By the end of the game, Yarraside were already singing Goodwin-s name, whom many fans had relentlessly campaigned for on supporter forums as well as Facebook and Twitter, but even those who backed the youngster to get the nod in the absence of Behich could not have possible predicted such a mature and complete performance. Far from being overawed by the occasion, Goodwin produced a display that earned him the Player of the Match award, an announcement which was met with a gratuitous roar from the home fans at AAMI Park.
Goodwin faces a tough challenge to win a regular starting berth in the Melbourne Heart side, particularly with Aziz Behich proving one of the Heart-s most consistent players. It is however, a great testament to the youth programme being implemented at Heart that a player can move seamlessly from the Youth Team through to John van-t Schip-s first XI. An approach that ensures the Youth Team are already learning and implementing the principles and tactics of the first team week in, week out, means that players like Goodwin are prepared when called upon, and will undoubtedly form part of the legacy left behind at the club when the season ends and we are forced to say goodbye to van-t Schip.
Whether or not Goodwin goes on to establish himself as a regular in the Melbourne Heart squad remains to be seen, but regardless he is a revelation that will at the very least keep Behich on his toes. Every good squad has a healthy competition for players, and with prospects like Goodwin in good stock in the Melbourne Heart second string, there is certainly enough talent around to keep the first team regulars on their toes.
If you want to see other potential Melbourne Heart stars, get down to the next Melbourne Heart youth fixture, against Adelaide United on the 12th of February. The match will kick off at 3pm at John Cain Memorial Park, Thornbury, offering all Heart fans another chance to watch John Aloisi-s, proving quite a promising coach himself, fledglings in action.
Follow Matthew on Twitter at @mg91.