MANY tried to predict what sort of cricket score Melbourne Heart would muster against the AWFA last night, in the end none would have been correct.
In a massive shock, the AWFA thew everything it had at the Heart, before going down 3-0 in front of a bumper home crowd at La Trobe University in Wodonga.
Had it not been for a 24-minute burst late in the first half from the A-League club, Heart would have gone home empty handed, but this result meant everyone was a winner.
Heart looked fitter, sharper and better organised early and threw everything it had at the AWFA in the opening 45 minutes.
It was unlucky not to have a larger advantage at the break after several botched opportunities.
It was only rewarded with three goals, but the skilful one-touch football displayed by Jason Hoffman, Nick Kalmar, Matt Thompson and Simon Colosimo had every one of the 3000-strong crowd salivating.
Tall midfielder Hoffman had the best of the early chances, with his 12th-minute attempt from close range tipped over the crossbar by a reflex save from Melrose FC goalkeeper Josh Fluss.
After being camped in its defensive half for more than 15 minutes, Twin City winger Kyle Maynard finally gave Heart keeper Ben McNamara something to do, but Maynard’s free kick from 30 metres out caused little trouble and was taken easily on the chest by the Heart No.1.
Four minutes later Heart broke the deadlock, with Hoffman hitting the right up-right, with the ball landing at the feet of Alex Terra, who made little mistake from close range on 22 minutes.
Four minutes later Heart doubled its advantage, with Kalmar lobbing Fluss to make it 2-0.
The AWFA, through the work of Tom Frawley, Sam Graetz, Ben Chaffey and Ryan Giles, helped keep Heart at bay for the next 20 minutes before Aziz Behich powered a low shot that took a deflection and left Fluss with no chance one minute into added time.
The AWFA looked more composed in the second half and managed to keep possession for longer periods.
Maycon was brought on just after the hour mark and didn’t disappoint, going close to scoring on a number of occasions.
AWFA keeper Marty Chambers was the star in the second half, keeping his side from conceding several more goals.
Albury Hotspurs keeper Harry Quealy was on the bench for Heart and didn’t see any game time.
AWFA coach Scott Kidd said a lack of cohesion was his side’s downfall.
“The third goal they got was in added time in the first half,” Kidd said.
“We were so close to being just 2-0 down at half-time.
“The first one came from a back pass and Flussy came out to it.
“They probably came about because we hadn’t played together a lot.
“It wasn’t because we had a total breakdown and they found a heap of space.
“The guys put in a fantastic effort and can be very proud of their performances.”
Heart will conclude its three-day community camp on the Border with another clinic today before heading back to Melbourne as it prepares for its second season in the A-League.