Heart Take Home Craig Foster Cup After Victory via Penalty Shoot-Out

The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers have tonight drawn 0-0 with the Melbourne Heart in their first hit-out against a fellow Hyundai A-League side. Playing for the Craig Foster Cup, the Heart claimed victory with a 5-3 scoreline on penalties.

The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers have tonight drawn 0-0 with the Melbourne Heart in their first hit-out against a fellow Hyundai A-League side. Playing for the Craig Foster Cup, the Heart claimed victory with a 5-3 scoreline on penalties.

Although going down in the shoot-out, Coach Tony Popovic was impressed with the squad-s display.

“It was a step up tonight and we handled it well, we-ve been looking forward to this and it was a great gauge for us,” he said. “We-re working towards season kick-off and this is a step in the right direction.

“The players are starting to get longer minutes in readiness for round one so we will continue to do what we have to.

“The Heart are in good shape, so it was good to see where we-re at,” he said.

Popovic added that the main objective for the week was the coming together as a squad.

“The week has been fantastic and the squad has come together beautifully and bonded, which was the aim to get out of the week,” he added.

The Wanderers first chance came in the 10th minute when Labinot Haliti carried the ball to the by-line and cut it back for Mark Bridge but he pushed it over the top of the bar.

Just two minutes later it was the Heart who created their first opportunity with a similar move down the left hand side. It was cut back and the outstretched arm of Jerrad Tyson got a much needed touch on the ball to send it out of the danger zone.

It was in the 22nd minute where the Wanderers had their greatest opportunity. A mistake from the Heart put Haliti into the open and again heading for the by-line. He was able to get a rushed shot away that was pushed away by Heart Goal Keeper Andrew Redmayne and it was then Jerome Polenz who couldn-t get a clean strike on the ball before Bridge had his chance and pushed it wide of the right upright.

The Heart thought they had claimed their opening goal in the 28th minute. Off the back of a great save from Tyson the Heart put the ball into the back of the net but the linesman had raised his flag and the official had no choice but to call it back.

A great strike from Aaron Mooy occurred in the 35th minute after Bridge was brought down on the edge of the penalty area. Mooy struck the ball with a fair amount of force and it hit the under-side of the cross-bar before being cleared by the Heart.

On the stroke of half-time Nikolai Topor-Stanley was given the first yellow card of the match for going in too hard in defence. From the free-kick, the Heart pushed the ball wide. Moments later the referee signalled half-time and the score remained nil-all with both side-s heading to the rooms.

Both side-s started the second stanza with the same 11 that started the match and as the match hit the 55th minute mark the Heart Captain, Fred, was given his first booking of the match, receiving a yellow card for a tackle on Polenz. From 30m out, Mooy pushed the ball wide of the uprights without troubling Heart Goal Keeper, Redmayne.

In the 60th minute, Coach Popovic began to make changes with Shannon Cole and Jason Trifiro coming on to replace Youssef Hersi and Polenz.

The match continued to be played from end to end and with a number of changes being made the match was there for the taking but no one could take their chance. As the match hit the 90 minute mark the scores were level at 0-0.

With the Craig Foster Cup on the line, the match went to a penalty shoot-out and it was the Heart who were able to net every shot and claim the cup, 5-3 on penalties.