Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi says an injury to centre-forward Josip Tadic robbed his team of momentum in their 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory.
Heart had the better of the opening exchanges in the A-League match at Etihad Stadium, with the likes of Eli Babalj, David Williams and Richard Garcia combining well to put Victory under pressure.
The team in blue and white pounced to open the scoring through Archie Thompson on 29 minutes, before a suspected broken toe forced Tadic off the field.
Golgol Mebrahtu came on to replace the Croatian, but Heart struggled to threaten again until the closing stages, with Williams’ late goal not enough to earn a share of the spoils.
“I thought most of the game was good,” Aloisi said after Saturday’s loss.
“Of course, against a team like Victory you’re going to have little spells where they get on top of you. But I thought that we were still creating chances even in the middle bit of the game.
“We suffered a little bit when Josip Tadic went down, then he had to come off. We were clearly on top of them before he had that injury. Then when he came off we took a little bit of time to get back into it, but I thought that was a very good performance from our boys.”
Victory took a 2-0 lead in somewhat controversial circumstances, the referee pointing to the spot when Marcos Flores fell in the area under minimal contact from Jonatan Germano.
Heart’s coach claimed not to have a clear view of the incident, but did say he feels Victory’s Argentine playmaker is prone to going down easily, citing a booking Williams received late on for what the referee deemed to be simulation.
“I haven’t seen enough of it – I could only see it on the big screen,” Aloisi said of the penalty.
“I saw Flores sort of back into Germano from a distance when the ball was out wide. It looked like Germano was trying to get him out of the way to get in front of him, not to actually foul him, because the ball was nowhere near play then.
“It’s hard for me to comment, to say if it was a penalty or not a penalty.
“I will say that sometimes he (Flores) might go down a little easier than most other players, because in the first half he went down and got a free-kick. And then Willo (Williams), pretty similar foul, he went down and he got a yellow card (for diving), that’s just the way I saw it from the side.”
Aloisi and his players must now pick themselves up and prepare for a home match with Perth Glory next Saturday, as seventh-placed Heart look to maintain their finals challenge.