Heart Held By Phoenix At Westpac Stadium

Melbourne Heart FC has secured its second point away from home after the side was held by Wellington Phoenix 2-2 at Westpac Stadium.

Melbourne Heart FC has secured its second point away from home after the side was held by Wellington Phoenix 2-2 at Westpac Stadium.

After conceding an early goal by Chris Greenacre, Heart soon bounced back as John Aloisi levelled from the penalty spot before Matt Thompson sent the away side into the lead with an inspired effort before half time.

However, Phoenix soon restored parity after the break as the changeable conditions wreaked havoc, with Leo Bertos’ curled effort moving wickedly in the wind to deceive Clint Bolton in the Heart goal.

Head Coach John van ‘t Schip admitted he was disappointed his side was unable to secure victory and end Wellington-s now 24-game unbeaten streak at home.

“Leading 2-1 we came under pressure at the beginning of the second half and we were lucky in some circumstances but we came through that,” he said.

“Then they scored a goal that was one of the goals they know (how to score) with the wind. You could see the ball taking a sharp move the other side and it was 2-2. Towards the end of the game it could have gone either way.

“We got a result and we always knew it was going to be difficult here. The statistics show that. But after leading 2-1 you want to have more but that wasn’t the case.”

The Phoenix jumped out of the blocks early, immediately placing Heart on the back foot as the home side to secure an early advantage over the visitors.

And in the sixth minute, Wellington duly took the lead as Greenacre latched onto a stellar through ball from Manny Muscat before calmly shooting low past Bolton.

Buoyed by the early opener, Phoenix ventured forward in search of a second as Leo Bertos and Paul Ifill caused havoc on the flanks, with the latter volleying high from close range.

But Heart soon restored parity as debutant Adrian Zahra was rewarded for a marauding run deep into the Wellington half after he was felled by Muscat in the penalty area.

Aloisi converted the penalty to score his third goal of the season in only his fourth start, continuing his rich vein of form.

The goal provided Heart with the impetus needed to wrest control of the midfield battle, as the side-s passing game came to the fore, with Josip Skoko and Wayne Srhoj instrumental.

But it was a moment of brilliance from Thompson which unlocked Wellington-s defence for Heart-s second strike, as the dynamic midfielder pivoted between two Phoenix defenders before stroking the ball past Mark Paston in a stellar individual effort.

While Heart appeared in control of the contest after the break, the blustery conditions were emerging as a key dynamic, allowing Wellington to force its way back into the match as a speculative Bertos effort swerved decisively past a wrong-footed Bolton.

Wellington Phoenix 2 (Greenacre 6′, Bertos 59′)
Melbourne Heart FC 2 (Aloisi 14′, Thompson 36′)
Westpac Stadium, Wellington