Spirited Heart Undone By Toffees

Melbourne Heart FC remains on track for the opening round of the Hyundai A-League season despite falling to English Premier League team Everton FC 2-0 at Etihad Stadium.

Melbourne Heart FC remains on track for the opening round of the Hyundai A-League season despite falling to English Premier League team Everton FC 2-0 at Etihad Stadium.

A healthy crowd of 19,621 was on hand for the marquee pre-season encounter, which saw Heart produce a spirited display against a strong Everton side, which featured international stars Louis Saha, Diniya Bilyaletdinov and Socceroo superstar Tim Cahill.

Goals either side of half time from Jack Rodwell and Saha were enough to deny a Heart outfit that remains firmly entrenched in preparations for round one of the Hyundai A-League season.

Head Coach John van ‘t Schip said he was pleased with the level of improvement shown by his side against the Toffees, and the opportunity to showcase some of the Club-s exciting teenage talent.

“The boys are understanding the system, the philosophy, every time more and more, which was evident today. But we still have three weeks to go and the learning process will continue,” he said.

“These kind of games are important as it allows us to integrate and introduce young players to the starting side.

“When you put in a young player, it is important to line them up alongside more experienced players as it allows them to learn, develop and grow.”

Throughout the first half, Heart showed it was ready to play, pressing Everton deep into its own half. And it was Gerald Sibon who had the Heart-s best chance to take the lead midway through the half, rounding the ‘keeper before shooting wide.

Former Socceroo Josip Skoko was next to attempt to break the deadlock, striking a long range half volley which forced an acrobatic save from the Everton ‘keeper.

However, it was Everton which opened the scoring after 34 minutes, Jack Rodwell volleying home a neatly worked move from close range.

Everton introduced Socceroo superstar Tim Cahill after the break, and his impact was immediate, challenging Heart central defensive pairing of Michael Beauchamp and Simon Colosimo.

Saha eventually got the better of the pair on the hour mark, with a world class left footed strike curling into the top corner of the Heart goal.

The contest opened up in the final half hour, with Heart-s brigade of youngsters coming to the fore, matching their more illustrious opponents across the park.

Nick Kalmar, who will join the Club at the completion of his duties with Oakleigh, demonstrated why van ‘t Schip handed him a professional opportunity, looking composed and assertive when he replaced Skoko at the interval.

In the contest-s closing stages, Eli Babalj, one of six teenagers fielded by the Heart, had a chance to pull a deserved goal back, but his side footed volley forced Ian Turner into another superlative save.