Date: January 02 2013
MELBOURNE Heart got off to a dream New Year's Day start with Golgol Mebrahtu's sixth-minute strike putting them on the way to a 2-1 triumph over the Newcastle Jets, who had come into this game with the motivational benefit of a pep talk by cricketing legend Sir Viv Richards.
But even his words of wisdom could not prevent Newcastle from going down in Melbourne for the second time in four days, having lost 3-2 to Victory on Friday night.
So often this season Heart have been in positions to win games only to blow it. This time they managed to keep their nerve, winning thanks to some fine work by Mebrahtu and debutant goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.
Redmayne had been given his chance at the expense of the fit and available Clint Bolton, twice winner of Heart's player-of-the-year award, in what coach John Aloisi said had been a very tough choice.
Redmayne overcame his concession of an early penalty to make two good saves from headers by Emile Heskey to preserve his side's lead in the second half.
''I thought about it [dropping Bolton] after the Wellington game [when Heart led 2-0 early only to lose 3-2 in New Zealand],'' Aloisi said. ''I thought about what I needed to do to spark the team a bit. I thought that 'Redders' deserved a chance.''
Mebrahtu's opening goal was his second in two games, after the striker also netted in the Wellington loss - Heart's second in five days over Christmas. ''I said we have to win today no matter how we play,'' Aloisi said. ''We have played some really good football. Against Victory, I thought we deserved three points but we came away with nothing. When you keep coming away with nothing you have to say that sometimes you have to grind out a result to get the confidence up in the group.
''The second half was not great, but the way the boys ground out a result, we haven't been able to do that all year. That gives the team a boost, that's the most important thing. The players need to believe they can win games and win it ugly.''
Redmayne's future might have looked pretty bleak early on after conceding a penalty in the 16th minute, hauling down Ryan Griffiths as he bore in on goal. Referee Chris Beath judged that Griffiths, while the last man, was running away from goal, and Redmayne received a yellow card not a red.
Griffiths, who had been played through by Heskey after the latter had intercepted the ball, made no mistake to put the Jets level.
Mebrahtu's opener come about through a Jets blunder when a loose ball was played into midfield and intercepted by Fred, the Heart skipper. His pass found Josip Tadic, who weighted his delivery to the overlapping Mebrahtu perfectly and he put it under the body of Jets keeper Mark Birighitti.
The winner was scored by Tadic from the spot in the 27th minute after Birighitti had lost control of the ball. It fell to Jonatan Germano, who had his legs whipped from under him by the goalkeeper.
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