Melbourne Heart midfielder Matt Thompson says his side have nothing to fear ahead of their Hyundai A-League elimination final against Perth Glory, and it’s the home side who have to carry the weight of expectation.
Melbourne Heart midfielder Matt Thompson says his side have nothing to fear ahead of their Hyundai A-League elimination final against Perth Glory, and it-s the home side who have to carry the weight of expectation.
Glory go into the tie slight favourites, with excellent recent form and a bumper nib Stadium crowd behind them. But Melbourne turned the Glory over 2-1 in WA earlier in the season and Thompson says that has given the Victorian side heart that they can do it again, while the home team must cope with the demands of their own supporters.
“I don-t think there-s pressure. We-ve scraped into the finals over the last couple of weeks - 10 weeks ago we were sitting second or third, and had a bad run and were fighting it out with a couple of other teams. But we knew if we ever got in the finals that we-ve beaten the top sides and there-s no reason why we can-t give it a good shake.
“It-ll be a tough game - we-re going to be in Perth, they-re going to have 15-20,000 people there, so they have pressure on them. But we-ve beaten Perth in Perth before so I don-t see why we can-t get a result.”
And neither is the Heart vice-captain too concerned by the form of Glory or that of striker Shane Smeltz, arguing that Melbourne-s talented young squad have what takes to inflict some damage on the home team.
“Smeltzy-s a quality player but I don-t think you go into a game just worrying about him - we-ll worry about us and we believe we can be better.
“Our strengths are having a lot of sharp young players and mobility in the midfield and upfront, so we-d like to think we can catch teams on the counter, but if we have to sit back and absorb a bit of pressure we can do that too."
Heart have found wins hard to come by in recent weeks, slipping from second to sixth and their excellent mid-season form gave way in the later stages of the season. Despite this perhaps predictable slump, Thompson says the team can take a lot from the way they-ve fought for essential points to get into the finals.
“The last month hasn-t been too fantastic but we haven-t been losing; we-ve been finding ways to grind out a result and along the way we had a good result against central coast and Brisbane.
"It-s a final and I know it-s a cliché but anything can happen. Our away form-s better than our home form anyway, so it doesn-t worry us.
“It-s easy to say let-s play without fear but when you go to the game, you don-t want to make mistakes. And we do have a young side and there-ll be a few boys that might be feeling a bit nervous.
“But a lot of those boys have played 15-2 games this year so it-s not like they-re just getting broken in. we knew if we got into the six, on our day we-re a top side and we can only worry about us.
“Everyone-s right, we-ve got 23 players training for the first time in a long time. We-re looking forward to it, we-re going to lap it up and we-ve got something to show.”