Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi is confident the return of Harry Kewell coupled with a newfound resolve in his side will be the catalyst for a surge up the Hyundai A-League ladder.
Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi is confident the return of Harry Kewell coupled with a newfound resolve in his side will be the catalyst for a surge up the A-League ladder.
The Heart missed out on registering their first win of the season but showed plenty of positive signs in holding the Western Sydney Wanderers to a 1-1 draw at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday.
Arguably the most pleasing aspect for Aloisi was the sight of Kewell back in a Heart jersey for the first time since a 68-minute effort against the Victory in round one.
Kewell came on with his side under the pump 18 minutes from the end and showed no signs of ring-rust, helping to steady the ship as the Wanderers came home with a wet sail.
Asked about Kewell post-match, Aloisi said: "It was a big positive. We know what Harry can do and he just lifts everybody around him.
"Him walking out onto that pitch, his team-mates lift. That's the reason we got him at our club.
"We've had a lot of injures early on in the season and that's why we kept on saying we know what we have to do, we know where we're headed and it showed in that short glimpse where Harry came on.
"The game turned for a good 10 minutes where he started keeping the ball, all the other players around him seemed to lift with confidence as well and we started to combine and play some good combination football.
"Harry brings that to a team."
The challenge for Aloisi will now be keeping Kewell fit and getting that type of performance out of him on a regular basis.
"A lot of people have questioned (Kewell's) attitude and desire to play football," the Heart boss said.
"He's worked so hard to get onto the pitch. He only trained with the team once yesterday but he was desperate to play. It just goes to show the person he is.
"Whether we can play him longer than 20 minutes next week, hopefully we can but whether he can start I don't know. We don't want him to break down again."
Both sides squandered a host of chances in a pulsating first half before the Heart took a shock lead through David Williams seven minutes before the break.
But the visitors were unable to take that advantage to half-time with Aaron Mooy equalising in the 44th minute.
The Wanderers then dominated after the resumption but some inspired goalkeeping from Andrew Redmayne and some desperate defence ensured they would hold on for a valuable point.
"We have to build on this," Aloisi said.
"Last week (in the 3-3 draw with Adelaide) we said the passion and desire we showed in the second half is what you have to show to get results.
"We believe it's a turning point for our season.
"A few weeks ago we probably would have come here and lost considering the possession they had and the way they pressured us.
"But we held on and showed some good signs too."