In the wake of Holger Osieck earning his dismissal after Australia’s 6-0 defeat to France, Ange Postecoglou was hoping to keep his job at Melbourne Victory as they opened up the season against John Aloisi’s Melbourne Heart on Saturday at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Despite former Victory front man Harry Kewell switching sides with Heart and losing Marco Rojas to Europe, the Victory believes that the squad he has will deliver on the day.
“I am not really concerned about [Kewell]. I have zero interest in what other players from other clubs are doing. I am interested in what our club and our players are doing,” Postecoglou told the Age’s Michael Lynch. “I don’t think we have ever targeted or singled out players, it’s not the way I coach, it’s not the way we play our football.
“It won’t be any different to when we play Sydney with Alessandro (del Pierro) or Western Sydney with Shinji (Ono). Is not the way we do things. Tomorrow night will be (about) us and our performance and the way we play our football.”
One player that looked to make an impact on Saturday was Leigh Broxham, who has been a bookend for the Big V for the past few years.
“I don’t look at it too much at the moment. It’s something I might look back on later, something close family and friends might be proud [of] – hopefully they’re proud,” Broxham told Jesse Hogan of the Age. “It’s something more for them at the moment. I’m still pretty focused on my football at the moment.
“I’m still pretty young so for me it’s a bit of a bonus, but there’s a lot of good leaders out on the pitch at the moment in the team.”
Mitch Nichols, Pablo Contreras, James Troisi and Rashid Mahazi made their debuts on Saturday against Heart. The match started rather tense, with neither side giving and inch; however the Victory were getting a good share of chances on goal, spearheaded by young gun Connor Pain. In the 11th minute, Mate Dugandzic nearly opened up the scoring for the Heart but missed wide right.
A chance for the Victory’s Jason Geria seconds later was swallowed up by Heart goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne. A shot from the Heart in the 14th minute was saved by Victory netminder Nathan Coe. Mahazi got shaken up in the 15th minute and would be walking wounded for the rest of his time on the pitch. Another chance in the 16th minute for Pain was cleared by Heart’s Aziz Behich.
Aside from the shot from Dugandzic, Heart had been on the defense for the early stages of the first half and needed to cook something up. James Troisi continued to pile up the pressure in the 20th minute but his first attempt on goal lacked accuracy and pace. Harry Kewell nearly threatened in the 21st minute with a pass for Golgol Mebrahtu, but the latter made a meal of the finishing. Williams had a chance in the 23rd minute but ended up winning a corner.
In the 29th minute, a free kick for the Victory was cleared by Kewell, who suffered a head injury and had to be bandaged. The communication between Mitch Nichols and Archie Thompson is something that will need to improve with time. Nonetheless, both teams opted for a wide open game, and Leigh Broxham delivered a shot in the 36th minute that was collected by Redmayne. It was almost a bad giveaway by Heart’s Patrick Kisnorbo, but at least it wasn’t costly.
Another sequence in the 39th minute for the Victory initiated by Thompson fizzled out thanks to Redmayne. Kewell nearly had a gift in the 41st minute but he saw his shot miss wide right. Mebrahtu also had a chance in the 44th minute but was quick to pull the trigger. At the end of the first half, the match was scoreless.
The 47th minute should have triggered a penalty for Victory, but referee Peter Green opted to call a corner that was cleared. A chance for Dugandzic in the 50th minute ended up in a corner for Heart, which was swept aside by Broxham. Another cross from Nichols was cleared by Kisnorbo, forcing another corner that fizzled out. A shot from Kewell in the 58th minute was blocked, but Heart were applying pressure.
Williams continued to pepper the net, but in the 59th minute, he missed the top right corner. Massimo Murdocca was making his presence felt this half for the Heart. Fatigue was starting to seep in, and the chances were starting to be few and far between. Kewell was subbed out in the 68th minute for Iain Ramsay, and it would be interesting to see if the acquisition from Adelaide United would chance things around.
This match had the possibility of being determined late. A chance for Thompson in the 73rd minute missed wide left. His cramping issues got the best of him two minutes later, forcing Andrew Nabbout to answer the call. Gui Finkler was brought in for Mahazi in the 80th minute to also add some more dimension to the attack, as well as Scott Galloway for James Troisi in the 83rd minute.
Nabbout was in a 1-v-1 in the 85th minute but could not break out of it and didn’t get a good shot off. Neither did Galloway a minute later, as it was clear that both teams were in poor match fitness, Dugandzic notwithstanding. Despite both teams trying to split the match wide open, this match…ended in the fourth draw all-time between these two sides.
Melbourne Victory return to action on Friday, Oct. 18 against Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. AEST and will be televised locally by FOX Sports 1.