The difference between the two sides was established in the space of about 15 minutes.
The difference between the two sides was established in the space of about 15 minutes. Whereas Melbourne Heart were spurred on at the concession of a goal, when Archie Thomspon intelligently lobbed Clint Bolton, Melbourne Victory fell to pieces when our own Thompson, who would prove man of the match with a brilliant display, found the back of the net with a fine finish of his own.
Next time you watch it, and I know you-ll watch it again, watch the body language from those clad in fluorescent yellow. You-ll see heads drop and fingers pointing. It-s a tell-tale sign of a side that lacks the mental conviction to react positively to adversity, and when Melbourne Heart refused to be broken after Victory-s fantastic start to the game, we always looked like we would take something positive from the fixture.
After the win against Perth, I wrote of the tremendous shift in character and how resolute the Heart had become in their second season in the A-League. That sort of belief and fortitude in a squad is a priceless asset when the crunch games come around, and there really is no bigger game in the regular season, not just for Heart but arguably in the whole competition. I am happy to have been vindicated in my judgment of that newfound vigour and belief after such a shaky start to the match.
It is the ultimate proving ground for players to demonstrate their big game ability and composure under pressure, and in this game, several of the men representing the Red and White of Melbourne demonstrated their quality once more. Without getting ahead of ourselves, it has left us dreaming of finals football, but more importantly, how far this squad might be capable of going should we make the cut, as is looking more and more likely with each passing game.
It was Matthew Thompson that once again almost individually personified that willingness to graft and grind. Like the rest of the team, he didn-t open the game with much confidence, but his response to the first goal epitomized Melbourne Heart as a team. The way he hunted the ball down in that pivotal period after the concession of the first goal set the tone for the rest of his teammates, and with Fred matching his efforts all of the way, Heart were near impossible to contain.
With almost all our most experienced players packed into the middle of the park, their efforts were always going to be of immense importance to John van Schip-s sides hopes of victory and the efforts of Thompson, Fred and Shroj were the basis of another famous derby victory for the Heart.
Who could forget Clint Bolton though? The man making his 450th appearance put in a shift befitting of the occasion. It could have started disastrously, after he gave away a penalty in the opening minutes, but true to form, Bolton rectified the situation with a brilliant save. It wasn-t the only good save he pulled off, and other pieces of stunning goalkeeping, perhaps most impressively when he turned away Cernak-s close range effort, made sure of the three points for the Heart, providing further evidence of his continued class in goal.
Another day, another three points, but this was a win that will linger long in the memories of the players and the supporters. True to the festive season, Melbourne is Red and White.