A GOAL in either half propelled Perth Glory to a 2-0 win over Melbourne Heart and a share of top spot on the A-League ladder.
Glory had the better of the chances at nib Stadium tonight with both goals coming from corners – Dean Heffernan grabbing the first and Billy Mehmet the second – to secure the relatively comfortable victory without stars Shane Smeltz and Bas van den Brink.
Coming off last season’s heartbreaking grand final loss to the Brisbane Roar, Perth have now sandwiched two home wins around a 1-0 loss away to the Central Coast Mariners.
Glory controlled the majority of the contest and deservedly came away with full points, taking some air out of the Heart’s impressive opening to the season which had yielded a win and draw over the opening two weeks under new coach John Aloisi.
Heart got close to an early goal with a well-taken free kick from David Williams that Fred just put over the crossbar, before the Glory seized control of the match.
Glory were eventually rewarded for their efforts when Heffernan tapped in a corner from Liam Miller in the 38th minute.
Heart captain Fred was substituted at half-time with his right eye swelling up after a first half clash with Glory defender Michael Thwaite.
The move worked in Melbourne’s favour with his replacement Josip Tadic helping to give the visitors some drive in attack.
But Glory refused to take their foot off the pedal, Mehmet missing with a header before Steve McGarry blew the day’s easiest opportunity when he shot high when alone in the box.
Chris Harold missed an outstanding chance to make it 2-0 in the 84th minute when he missed when presented with a one-on-one with Heart keeper Clint Bolton, Mehmet eventually confirming the points when he turned in a corner four minutes from time.
Perth coach Ian Ferguson was happy with his team’s overall performance, but found himself unable to breathe easy until the second goal eventually went on the board.
“I felt like we were in control for a lot of the game, but with only one goal in it you know that the Heart are dangerous,” Ferguson said.
“We were a little bit nervous until the second goal went in and I was really proud of the boys.
“There was a big emphasis on retaining the ball because last week we were rushing things and turning the ball over, but this week we worked hard on retaining the ball and being patient, and I was pleased with that.”
Aloisi admitted his side struggled with the 30-degree temperatures, but that wasn’t the only aspect of his team’s play he was unhappy with.
“We weren’t really in the game and in the first half we weren’t getting outplayed as much, but we didn’t keep hold of the ball as well as we would have liked,” Aloisi said.
“We struggled with the conditions, really struggled, and looked flat, fatigued and then the game became stretched, and they outplayed us in the midfield and it was a struggle for us.
“I know you can’t make up excuses, but it has been quite cool in Melbourne and coming over here to play at two o’clock in the afternoon really affected us.”