Gold Coast United hold off Melbourne Heart


Gold Coast United have held off a fast-finishing Melbourne Heart to register their second straight win with a 3-2 result in their National Youth League clash at Owen Park on Saturday.

Gold Coast United have held off a fast-finishing Melbourne Heart to register their second straight win with a 3-2 result in their National Youth League clash at Owen Park on Saturday.

The defending NYL champions played the Heart off the park for well over an hour, with goals to Chris Lucas, Daniel Bowles and Jake Barker-Daish giving them a 3-0 lead that the visitors could have no complaints about.

But the Heart showed signs of life with a goal in the 71st minute, which came about after some sloppy work at the back by United from defender Neko Vujevich and reserve goalkeeper Tim Anderson, who was brought on midway through the second stanza.

Anderson was too casual with his pass to an under-pressure Vujevich and when it was returned to him, he was flat-footed and waited for the ball – a costly mistake, as Goodwin pounced to make him pay.

Goodwin quickly gathered the ball from the back of the net, fully believing his side were still capable of taking something from the game – and just minutes later, he swooped for his second after Anderson’s save fell into his path.

While they were unable to complete their comeback, Heart Youth boss John Aloisi would have been pleased with the manner of his side’s resurgence – and with the long-awaited return of Adrian Zahra, who came on as a second-half substitute.

Zahra suffered ligament damage as a result of Kevin Muscat’s horror tackle in January’s Melbourne derby, but took an important step towards full recovery on Saturday after 10 months on the sidelines.

But it was all Gold Coast early and on a hot and humid day on the Glitter Strip, Mike Mulvey’s men settled quickest and had their first chance on goal just four minutes in.

Combining well with fellow midfielder Daniel Bragg on the counter attack, Barker-Daish forced a decent save out of Heart custodian Sebastian Mattei – but United didn’t have to wait much longer to open the scoring.

The first of the afternoon came in the 12th minute and almost out of nothing. Full-back Bowles, sporting the captain’s armband for the first time, forced a turnover right on the edge of the danger area after a flat-footed response by Heart to a pass from their keeper.

With Mattei out of position, Bowles simply slid the ball across to local lad Lucas, who passed the ball into an open net for his first goal in Gold Coast colours.

Three minutes later and United nearly doubled their lead through Tahj Minniecon, who danced past two defenders before launching a shot from 20 metres out that bounced agonizingly wise.

The hosts continued to test Mattei for the rest of the half, with Mitch Cooper’s 42nd minute shot from the top of the box stinging his palms, but went into the change still only 1-0 up despite their dominance.

After the break, though, Gold Coast made it 2-0 through Bowles, who scored with a classy finish after he was played in by a lovely flick pass from Cooper in the 51st minute.

Less than sixty seconds later, only the woodwork kept United from extending their lead further with the left upright cruelly denying Lucas his brace despite some quick thinking in the box.

United soon had their third, though – the fruit of a free-flowing passing move that involved Minniecon, Bowles and Jacob Borg.

The ball ended up with Tom Boland and though his shot was parried away by Mattei, Barker-Daish was there for a simple tap-in.

Though the Heart came back into the contest as a result of Goodwin’s quickfire double, Gold Coast were professional enough to close out the game and though both sides went close late on, they were deserved winners.

Gold Coast United 3 (Lucas 12, Bowles 51, Barker-Daish 63)
Melbourne Heart 2 (Goodwin 71, 75)