Melbourne Heart has staved off a stubborn Oakleigh Cannons outfit after a David Vrankovic header in the second half earned it a 1-0 victory.
Missing in action was Orlando Engelaar after injuring himself in the 3-0 loss to Brisbane in Lismore last week, while Rob Wielaert was still sidelined through injury and David Williams was rested.
The club announced just this morning Harry Kewell as captain, and Australian football’s glamour boy was able to get another 90 minutes under his belt as he continued to get in shape for the upcoming season.
The first half ended in a stalemate, while the surface was not doing either club any favours though Heart especially was finding it hard to play their natural game plan.
Former Heart youth player Dusan Bosnjak fired the first warning shot within the first 10 minutes, firing a free-kick just over the bar to a relieved Tando Velaphi in goal.
Heart held the ball for most the first 45 minutes but struggled to penetrate Miron Bleiberg’s defence, with Oakleigh dropping 11 players behind the ball for most of the match.
The best chance from a red and white perspective came half an hour in, though Patrick Gerhardt somehow blasted his header from three metres out over the cross-bar.
The second half opened up a bit more, and sub Jeremy Walker had a sighton goal, but his left foot strike went into the side netting.
Behich then had the chance to score, after a great bit of interchange on the edge of the box his strike was saved low by Griffin McMaster in Cannons’ goal.
Patrick Gerhardt moved into midfield for the second period, and had a chance to score from outside the box but skewed his effort high.
Heart continued pressing higher up the pitch but their opponents continued to hold firm, before the breakthrough finally came.
In the 75th minute from a Kewell corner; Vrankovic was on hand to header the loose ball at the back post.
The youngster then had a chance to double his tally, after Oakleigh failed to clear another corner he struck a left foot volley that was just saved by McMaster.
Heart’s next travel to Perth to play West Australian side Inglewood on September 11th, before playing Perth Glory on the 14th.