Draw washes away Heart, Mariners’ aspirations

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After kickoff was delayed for more than an hour, neither Melbourne Heart nor the Central Coast Mariners could snatch a win and push their claims for personal glory as they played out a 1-1 draw at a soaked AAMI Park on Friday night.

In what was a bizarre night of football, Matt Thompson scored a freak, albeit lucky, 60 metre goal before Daniel McBreen equalised 30 seconds later to give the Mariners a draw in a match that nearly didn’t begin.

A pre-match downpour forced referee, Srebre Delovski, to delay kickoff until 9.15pm, the deluge had the pitch looking like more like a water polo venue than a football arena 30 minutes before the start of play.

The draw all but ends the Heart’s chances of a finals birth, while the Mariners dropped out of the title race and handed Brisbane Roar their first form of silverware for the season.

The Heart shaded the play but lacked the cutting edge in the final third to seal the match despite Aziz Behich causing problems down the left and John Aloisi looking menacing in the box all night.

The Mariners had the better of the early exchanges in front of goal with a few peppering shots at Clint Bolton and a header from McBreen that narrowly missed.

The slick conditions made life difficult for both sides to play quality football and caused headaches for each sides’ goalkeeper.

The difficult task for the ‘keepers was made clear in a an early moment of controversy when Michael McGlinchey’s shot was spilt by Bolton and then dug off the goal line by the experienced custodian, though, replays suggest the ball may have crossed the line.

Simon Colosimo looked liked he wrote the text book on slide tackling when he produced a fantastic last-ditched tackle on Matt Simon to deny him a shot on goal in the 17th minute.

The in-form striker came off second best in the tackle and was replaced by Adam Kwasnik before half time.

The Heart began to build pressure midway through the first half with a couple of goal bound strikes in quick succession, first from Aloisi, then from Alex Terra, though neither could beat Matt Ryan between the Mariner’s sticks.

The second half sprung to life in the 49th minute when Matt Thompson scored a bizarre 60 metre free kick after Ryan misjudged the flight of Thompson’s lofted ball, the bounce beating the keeper and ending up in the back of the net.

The lead was short-lived, lasting only seconds, as Josh Rose put in a low cross for Mcbreen at the near post, whose shot was parried initially by Bolton, before he buried the rebound.

The Heart had a few more half chances as the match wore on but couldn’t find the winner, Ryan redeeming himself for his howler with a good save off Wayne Srhoj to deny the Heart from taking the lead late on.

Both sides were valiant in their performance in tough conditions, though in truth, neither was good enough to secure the points and add that extra gloss to their respective seasons.

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