Culina shines to drown out Heart

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Gold Coast United bounced back from a midweek defeat with an excellent 3-0 win over the Melbourne Heart in front of a crowd of just 1658.

The game was played in difficult conditions with the pitch at Skilled Park having seen better days, and rain falling heavily throughout.

The visitors almost got off to the perfect start inside three minutes when Matt Thompson fired in a low drive from 25 yards but his effort came back off the post.

Gold Coast’s first chance of note fell to skipper Jason Culina who raced through and fired a volley from the edge of the area but Clint Bolton got down to palm the ball behind for a corner.
Heart responded with what was almost one of the goals of the season when Alex Terra and John Aloisi combined to set up Gerald Sibon and the Belgian’s sweetly stuck volley forced a good save out of Scott Higgins.
The game continued to flow from end to end, and big defender Kristian Rees almost opened the scoring when he connected with Jason Culina’s corner kick on 24 minutes, but his header flashed just wide of the right hand post.
It took until the 40th minute for the first goal and it went to the Gold Coast when midfielder Bas van den Brink rose highest to power another Culina corner past Bolton.
Melbourne made two changes at the interval, introducing Rutger Worm and Brendan Hamill, and they started the second period the brighter of the two sides.
However Gold Coast were given a great opportunity to double their lead after 57 minutes when referee Jarrad Gillett awarded them a penalty for a foul by Michael Beauchamp on Bruce Djite, and Culina, who missed Wednesday’s defeat to he North Queensland Fury, made no mistake from 12 yards.
Melbourne tried to get back into the game with Aloisi squandering a couple of good chances before Culina made the game safe for Gold Coast, converting Djite’s low right wing cross with ease.
The win moves United back into third spot ahead of the Central Coast Mariners, while Melbourne stay fifth.
Gold Coast United: S Higgins, J Curtis, D Djulbic, K Rees, J Culina, A Robson, B Djite, B van den Brink, J Brown, A Traore, A Anderson.
Subs: J Tyson, T Minniecon, A Barisic, S Fitzsimmons.
Melbourne Heart: C Bolton, M Marrone, S Colosimo, M Beauchamp, N Kalmar, G Sibon, M Thompson, J Aloisi, A Terra, A Behich, A Zahra.
Subs: P Zois, B Hamill, R Worm, K Taseski.

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Neil Sherwin
Neil has covered the Perth Glory and the Hyundai A-League for five years and is one of Western Australia's most knowledgeable football journalists.

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