Strong Crowd Witnesses Heart’s First Beat

Melbourne Heart FC has fallen to the Central Coast Mariners 1-0 in its first ever Hyundai A-League match at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

Melbourne Heart FC has fallen to the Central Coast Mariners 1-0 in its first ever Hyundai A-League match at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

Despite a wonderful opening crowd of 11,050, the Heart was unable to deliver a fairytale victory, with Alex Wilkinson-s 16th minute goal denying the home team.

Heart fought back late in the second half, producing a flurry of chances, but the Mariners remained strong, holding out for the three points.

Head Coach John van ‘t Schip remained philosophical following the match, stating there were many encouraging points to be drawn from the contest.

“We started well in the first 15 minutes, but after the goal, we lost confidence. However, the game showed we need to grow as a team,” he said.

“Beauchamp, Terra and Skoko arrived late and are gradually adapting to our game, but as I have said before, it takes time.

“I-m disappointed as we deserved a point, but the Mariners took their chances well and held out at the end.”

Van ‘t Schip also took an opportunity to praise the strong showing from Melbourne-s sport loving public, saying it bodes well for the future.

“The crowd was amazing this evening, and hopefully our supporter base can grow. I would like to thank the fans who came out here tonight as we commenced what will hopefully be a fantastic journey.”

Following a spritely opening, which almost delivered a goal from Brazilian import Alex Terra, the Central Coast scored a goal against the run of play, with Wilkinson heading home a John Hutchinson cross after finding himself unmarked at the back post.

The Heart had a chance to get back on level terms soon after, but Michael Beauchamp scooped his effort over the bar after a goal mouth scramble.

After the break, the Mariners looked dangerous, but it was Gerald Sibon who almost scored in the 53rd minute, turning and shooting wide, with Michael Marrone blazing high soon after.

However, the Central Coast, well drilled by new Head Coach Graham Arnold, remained steadfast, holding Heart at bay while looking threatening on the counter, as Matt Simon shot wide of Clint Bolton-s goal.

The Mariners cohesive midfield unit meanwhile provided the side with drive, closing down the opposition as it guided the team in transition.

In the dying minutes, Heart Captain Simon Colosimo conjured a great headed chance late only to see his effort sail agonisingly high of the goal before substitute Aziz Behich curled wide in injury time.