The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers have gone provisionally top of the A-League, as they increased their unbeaten away streak to 12 matches with a 1-0 win over Melbourne Heart.
The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers have gone provisionally top of the Hyundai A-League, as they increased their unbeaten away streak to 12 matches with a 1-0 win over Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park on Friday night.
The Wanderers rode Shannon Cole’s first-half strike all the way to the three points, which takes them two points clear of Brisbane Roar – who have a game in hand.
The Heart pushed late to find a goal that would earn them a point, but they continued to build a streak of their own – having gone 10 matches without success, and have two points from five games this season to sit bottom of the table.
Wanderers front man Tomi Juric should have sealed the result late on, but a brilliant save from Heart custodian Andrew Redmayne preserved the one-goal deficit, albeit to no avail.
Cole struck the game’s opening goal in the 27th minute, as Adam D’Apuzzo’s ball in from the left channel wreaked havoc among the Heart’s defence.
D’Apuzzo almost found the head of Aaron Mooy, but the partial clearance only went as far as former Sydney FC man Cole, who – on the second attempt – powered a strike past a hapless Redmayne.
It was a case of deja vu for the Heart, as Cole came back to haunt them after previously scoring a brace for the Sky Blues at AAMI Park in March 2012 to salvage a 2-2 draw.
Cole’s strike was then followed by a period of domination from Tony Popovic’s visitors, and they could have made it two shortly after.
In the 32nd minute, centre-back Matthew Spiranovic – in his first game for last season’s Premier’s Plate winners – headed Shinji Ono’s cross onto the crossbar, and Brendon Santalab’s reflex header off the woodwork went high.
Spiranovic was an interesting selection from Popovic, who reportedly withdrew skipper Michael Beauchamp for the 25-year-old Socceroo for tactical reasons.
Melbourne Heart 0
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Cole 27)
Crowd: 8070 @ AAMI Park
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