Heart Blast Five Past Cannons

Melbourne Heart FC Head Coach John van ‘t Schip believes his side’s Hyundai A-League preparations are on track after overcoming Victorian Premier League giants Oakleigh Cannons 5-2 at Jack Edwards Reserve.

Melbourne Heart FC Head Coach John van ‘t Schip believes his side-s Hyundai A-League preparations remain on track after overcoming Victorian Premier League high-flyers Oakleigh Cannons 5-2 at Jack Edwards Reserve.

Van ‘t Schip was obviously pleased with his side-s win, but is very clear on the significant work the squad still needs to do leading into round one of the Hyundai A-League season against the Central Coast Mariners.

“There were some good things, some good goals, and of course, some things that need improvement, but overall I was satisfied with the performance and am very thankful that Oakleigh hosted us and played the match in a positive, attacking spirit,” he said.

“It was a good opportunity for the boys to try out some of the things we-ve been working on, but we will analyse it again to see if they are on track for the upcoming season.”

The former Dutch international introduced Matt Thompson, Gerald Sibon and Dean Heffernan into the starting XI for the first time, underlining the important chemistry within the squad.

“Those three guys didn-t play last week, and we had some more players, like Marrone, who were also available. The mix between the young players and the experienced players worked well yesterday evening,” he said.

“I was happy to see the work attitude of the team, although we have to work on a few things. But as a new team, that-s normal, we have to improve and improve every time.”

In an open, attacking affair, Gerald Sibon scored the first of a hat-trick after guiding home a Jason Hoffman strike, before the Cannons struck back through a brilliantly worked move finished by Ljuban Palinic.

The contest exploded to a new level after the interval, Sibon curling a stunning 35-yard free kick into the bottom right hand corner in the 55th minute, before securing his hat-trick four minutes later, applying a tap in finish after impressive lead-up work from 18-year-old Eli Babalj.

Babalj then earned his place on the scoresheet with the Heart-s fourth of the night, dribbling past two players before rounding the Cannons ‘keeper.

Triallist Aziz Behich also made his claims for a permanent deal with the Heart after blasting home a well-worked move five minutes from time after a piercing through ball from Sibon to make the lead 5-1.

Oakleigh-s Billy Gasparinatos rounded off the second stanza goal glut with an impressive strike in the dying minutes.