Match of the Season Countdown #3


We count down the best matches of the 2013/14 season with our massive 3-2 win over Melbourne Heart in Rd27 coming in at #3

With the season done and dusted (save for the small matter of a Champions League Quarter Final) we thought we would take you through the best matches of 2013/14.

Hyundai A-League Round 27: Melbourne Heart 2 – Western Sydney Wanderers 3

The final match of the regular season had it all with second place on the line for Western Sydney and the Heart desperate to avoid the wooden spoon. The game saw two exciting equalisers as the Red & Black pulled out all the stops in a classy final fifteen minutes to seal second position and a place in our matches of the season countdown.

With the stage already set for a crucial match Harry Kewell, one of Australian football-s favourite sons, added a touch of emotion and the eyes of the nation when he announced the match would be his last ever in professional football.

Despite the significance of the fixture the Wanderers couldn-t afford to be affected by any emotions as just one point from their two previous encounters (1-1 draw with Brisbane Roar and 2-0 loss to the Central Coast) left the round 27 match as do or die if they were to put second place – and a week off – beyond the Mariners clutches.

Right from the first whistle the match-s importance was visible with both teams coming out with clear intentions setting up a spectacular high-tempo 90 minutes of football.

The opening 25 minutes saw shots a plenty leaving no one surprised at AAMI Park when in the 27th minute the ball found itself blasted into goals by Nikolai Topor-Stanly from a Shinji Ono set piece.

Ono-s lofty free kick into the penalty area found the head of NTS amongst a sea of players with the stand-in-captain more than up to the task confidently rising above the rest to loop the ball over the head of Melbourne-s keeper TandoVelaphi and into goal.

The Heart spurred on by the home crowd continued to attack and through some Orlando Engelaar genius found themselves back in the game taking the score to a 1-1 deadlock at half time.

However, with a draw suiting no one the second half started where the first had left off continuing to showcase attacking football and clinical defence with both side-s creative maestros Kewell and Ono involved in everything across the pitch.

Following a brilliantly saved close range shot from Harry Kewell the Wanderers seemed set to take the lead when Jonatan Germano sliding tackle took out Mateo Poljak on an attacking raid inside the box forcing referee Jarred Gillett to award a penalty. Ono coolly approached the penalty spot but uncharacteristically for the Japanese master the ball was driven into the crossbar.

Staying true to the past 70 minutes next it was Melbourne-s turn to bring the crowd to its feet when right-back Jason Hoffman benefitted from a bout of good luck as his shot took a deflection wrong footing Covic and sailing into the back of the net.

Almost completely unaffected by the Heart taking the lead Western Sydney stayed true to their indefatigable resilience and began to look for the equaliser.

Nine minutes later the Red & Black had it when Jerome Polenz found himself in yards of space, delivering a pin point cross which found itself land perfectly for a lethal Brendon Santalab who made no mistake placing the ball elegantly past Velaphi.

With both sides now on the hunt for the match winner it was the Wanderers who were destined to end Heart and Harry Kewell-s dreams as Youssouf Hersi brilliantly stole the ball off the toe of Melbourne defender Germano after Heart failed to clear their lines and with only the keeper to beat set free a low hard drive across goals and past a hapless Velaphi.

An utterly thrilling 90 minutes of football ending 3-2 with the Red & Black leaving AAMI Park buzzing ahead of an important month of football and guaranteeing a second place finish leading into the Finals Series.

The match-s display of high-tempo positive football and the outstanding result from a Wanderers side unwilling to deliver anything other than three points proving more than enough to make it into the number three spot for our matches of the season.