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Zahra, Smeltz fire Perth into the top six

PERvMHTTwo late goals from the returning Shane Smeltz helped make it back-to-back wins for Perth Glory, defeating ten-man Melbourne Heart 3-0 at nib Stadium.

Perth were bolstered by the return of captain Jacob Burns, replacing the Under 22 Asian Championships-bound Ryan Edwards in the starting lineup, and star striker Smeltz among the substitutes. Meanwhile, Melbourne Heart were unchanged after a promising performance against the Mariners last week, with Dylan Macallister finding a place on the bench.

It was Heart who had the first sight at goal as a ball behind Perth’s defence forced Vukovic off his line but he could only clear straight to Kewell, whose side-foot volley bounced wide of the post.

Perth’s first chance came in the 7th minute, when Harold latched onto a loose ball in the Heart area, his shot from a tight angle forcing a save from ‘keeper Redmayne.

The home side created another opportunity six minutes later when Woodcock floated an enticing cross to McGarry, but the Scottish midfielder couldn’t direct his header towards goal.

Match Details Full match details »

Date/Time Fri Jan 10, 2014, 9:45 PMStadium HBF ParkAttendance 9,045Referee Peter Green

Perth

Yellow Card30′ I.CernakGoal64′ A.ZahraGoal86′ S.SmeltzGoal89′ S.Smeltz

Despite being a man down for ten minutes as Zahra received stitches after a clash of heads, Perth dominated the period, creating opportunities through winger Sidnei.

The Brazilian let off a rasping drive from outside the box in the 19th minute which required a diving save from Redmayne, before fizzing a strike across the face of goal six minutes later.

Heart began working their way back into the contest, with Gerhardt forcing Vukovic into a save and Kalmar and Kewell going for goal from long distance. The visitors nearly took the lead when Mifsud’s squared ball found Ramsay in space and his curling effort crashed against the crossbar.

Still, it was the home side who finished the half strongly, creating three headed opportunities through Harold, Zahra, and McGarry that put the Heart ‘keeper under pressure.

The second half began with a series of long-range efforts from Perth players Thwaite, Harold, and McGarry, as well as Heart winger Ramsay. Both sides were struggling to put the ball in the back of the net, and it took a moment of individual brilliance to open the scoring.

Adrian Zahra received the ball on the wing in the 63rd minute and the ex-Melbourne player cut open the Heart defence before confidently firing low past Redmayne to give Perth the lead.

It was a massive blow for Melbourne, compounded when second-half substitute Macallister was dismissed just eleven minutes after his introduction for two needless yellow cards.

Nevertheless, the visitors almost levelled immediately after the send-off when Dugandzic had just the keeper to beat, only to drive his attempt into the side netting.

Heart were made to rue their missed opportunities as the returning Smeltz, introduced as a 74th minute substitute, added extra gloss to the scoreline with two late emphatic goals.

The first saw him outmuscle Gerhardt to the ball before finishing low past Redmayne, while the second came five minutes later when the New Zealand international profited from some poor defending from the visitors to pounce and smash a parried save home, giving Perth back-to-back victories and condemning Heart to another disappointing loss.

About the author

avatarJulian is a freelance writer and editor, film festival programmer, and serial podcaster.

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