Gold Coast deny Heart


A moment of subtle brilliance from Maceo Rigters has salvaged Gold Coast United a 1-1 draw in their clash with Melbourne Heart at Skilled Park on Sunday.

A moment of subtle brilliance from Maceo Rigters has salvaged Gold Coast United a 1-1 draw in their clash with Melbourne Heart at Skilled Park on Sunday.

United looked headed for another luckless night at the office with Kristian Sarkies’ early deflected free-kick all that split the two sides for the majority of the match, despite vast periods of dominance from the home side.

But in the 72nd minute they found the equalizer they searched so desperately for – and it came from a classy touch by ex-Blackburn Rovers striker Rigters.

Peter Jungschlager had picked out Kristian Rees with a deft ball from the left, but the experienced centre-back’s shot was heading straight towards the former Netherlands youth international.

The quick-thinking Rigters not only arched his way out of the ball’s path, he diverted the ball into the back of the net with a clever back-heel that gave his side a moment they could rally behind.

But Gold Coast must be wondering if the universe was conspiring against them, such was the amount of chances they created in the closing stages of the match.

Dutch midfield anchor Paul Beekmans hit the upright twice in five minutes, young striker Chris Harold was just inches away from a second ever Hyundai A-League goal and numerous shots flashed dangerously wide late on.

If it weren’t for near-magnetic woodwork and some terrific work in the goalmouth from veteran Heart custodian Clint Bolton, Gold Coast could have won the match by some margin.

But in truth, they were behind the eight ball to begin with and only had themselves to blame for letting in an early goal.

United were still setting up their wall when they were caught napping eight minutes in by the Heart, who took the lead with a free kick from just outside the area.

Sarkies, making his first appearance of the season, took full advantage with his early shot clipping the head of James Brown and sailing past Gold Coast goalkeeper Jerrad Tyson, who was out of position.

It was a sucker-punch moment that seemed to blow the wind out of their sails, and their slow and sluggish transition early on played into the hands of the Heart, who were defending in numbers.

But as the half wore on, Gold Coast began to assert control on the match – and they looked even more comfortable when the visitors lost their captain, Fred, to a recurrence of his groin injury in the 38th minute.

Whenever the Brazilian midfield maestro had the ball, the Heart looked dangerous – but without him, their usual swagger was gone and they looked content with the 1-0 score line.

It only remained that way thanks to Bolton, who made some important saves throughout the first half – and perhaps the most crucial came three minutes from the interval.

Rees had already hit the upright after latching onto a cross from Beekmans, but Bolton kept his cool when the stopper’s follow-up went straight at him.

Poor finishing was also to blame though, with Brown unable to curl his left-foot shot on target in the 35th minute after he was played in by a beautiful ball by Rigters.

Gold Coast were by far the better side in the second half, as well, but still couldn’t find any rhythm in attack – until that moment of brilliance from their Dutch talisman in the 72nd minute jolted them into life.

Gold Coast United 1 (Rigters 72)
Melbourne Heart 1 (Sarkies 8)
Crowd: 2081 at Skilled Park