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Jan 27, 2013   |  5:00AM AET

Wanderers Show Heart What The Word Means

Wanderers Show Heart What The Word Means

A new chapter of bravery was written when the NRMA Western Sydney Wanderers team played with ten men for 80 minutes and completely overwhelmed Melbourne Heart in an Australia Day classic at Parramatta Stadium.

A new chapter of bravery was written when the NRMA Western Sydney Wanderers team played with ten men for 80 minutes and completely overwhelmed Melbourne Heart in an Australia Day classic at Parramatta Stadium.

The Wanderers outplayed and outmuscled Heart and lifted the game to a tempo that their opposition, who were sitting only one place below them on the table, could not meet – even with 11 men.

The 1-0 score line to the Wanderers goes nowhere to telling the real story of the match where the home team physically overwhelmed their opponents and had more than half a dozen golden chances to score in general play.

The truth is the new boys in the Hyundai A-League knew they were fitter, stronger and better, despite being outnumbered, they proceeded to make it a very long night for Heart.

In the end it was a penalty won by Youssouf Hersi and converted by midfield maestro Shinji Ono that was the difference on the scoreboard.

The win pushes the Wanderers to third on the Hyundai A-League table and puts the rest of the teams on notice that the Wanderers are one powerful outfit.

Coach Tony Popovic was full of praise for his team for their physical and mental strength and the way they stuck to their structure and game plan.

“That is another first for us,” he said.

“We were down to ten men and the boys continued to play within a structure and with confidence.

“It was just fantastic and you could see at half time in the change room that they really believed they could win the game.

“We knew that if we did not give the ball away in silly areas we could win the match.”

The scene was set in only the 12th minute when fullback Jerome Polenz was red-carded for taking down Heart flyer David Williams in front of goal to the dismay of a heaving crowd of 14,624 red and black supporters.

Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic easily saved Josip Tadic-s penalty and his fist pump signaled it was time to get going and his teammates responded.

Midfielder Mateo Poljak stepped into the right fullback to cover for Polenz until coach Tony Popovic again confounded his peers.

Instead of replacing an attacker with a defender in an early forced substitution, he took midfielder Aaron Mooy off in the 21st minute for the cool and calm Iacopo La Rocca.

He left his attacking formation in place.

For the rest of the half it looked like it was Heart down to ten men as the Wanderers pressed forward and created chance after chance.

Hersi beat Heart defenders at will and a few minutes later he had a shot that missed just to the left.

Seconds later Ono only had the keeper to beat after being played through by La Rocca.

Only Andrew Redmayne-s outstretched hand saved a goal and he had plenty of work ahead.

In the 39th minute Mateo Poljak-s shot whizzed by the left post and for the next six minutes the Wanderers bustled, pressed and broke through for chance after chance and were desperately unlucky not to be up a goal or two at the break.

The second half was more of the same as the Wanderers- superior fitness and willingness to attack set a tempo that Heart could not match.

Heart resorted to causing stoppages through injury to stay in the game amid humid conditions.

Williams again found himself free in the box in the 59th minute and his shot hit the side netting – it was their only serious chance in the second stanza.

The Wanderers procession continued and Hersi mesmerized and tormented the opposition and created at least four serious chances.

The best saw Mark Bridge play him through and he was only three metres out with only the keeper to beat and Redmayne smothered his shot.

Thirty seconds later Ono was even closer on the keeper and Redmayne managed to smother and save again.

In the 79th minute Hersi was brought down in the box and a penalty was awarded.

Ono stepped up to take the penalty and slid it cleverly home to the right, in front of the Wanderers- home end fans who went into raptures.

Striker Dino Kresinger was right in the mix, although he sprayed a couple of shots and should have scored when he also only had Redmayne to beat.

Popovic singled out Mateo Poljak who virtually held the midfield on his own when the team went down to ten.

“Mateo was immense in that midfield and he did a great job for us,” Popovic said.

“The way he was winning those balls, the way he got the second balls and got them to Shinji as quick as he could was fantastic.”

The Wanderers- next home game is against Newcastle Jets at Campbelltown Stadium on February 9.