Western Sydney have gone provisionally top of the A-League, as they increased their unbeaten away streak to 12 matches with a 1-0 win over Melbourne Heart.
Western Sydney have gone provisionally top of the Hyundai A-League, as they increased their unbeaten away streak to 12 matches with a 1-0 win over Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park on Friday night.
The Wanderers rode Shannon Cole's first-half strike all the way to the three points, which takes them two points clear of Brisbane Roar - who have a game in hand.
The Heart pushed late to find a goal that would earn them a point, but they continued to build a streak of their own - having gone 10 matches without success, and have two points from five games this season to sit bottom of the table.
A header late on from Heart substitute Mate Dugandzic came back off the crossbar, and a mad goalmouth scramble ensued, but such was the luck of John Aloisi's men, the ball could not find its way over the line.
Wanderers front man Tomi Juric should have sealed the result late on, but a brilliant save from Heart custodian Andrew Redmayne preserved the one-goal deficit, albeit to no avail.
Cole struck the game's opening goal in the 27th minute, as Adam D'Apuzzo's ball in from the left channel wreaked havoc among the Heart's defence.
D'Apuzzo almost found the head of Aaron Mooy, but the partial clearance only went as far as former Sydney FC man Cole, who - on the second attempt - powered a strike past a hapless Redmayne.
It was a case of deja vu for the Heart, as Cole came back to haunt them after previously scoring a brace for the Sky Blues at AAMI Park in March 2012 to salvage a 2-2 draw.
The Heart had bossed possession in the opening quarter-hour, with inclusion Golgol Mebrahtu looking notably influential with a physical presence in the front third.
Mebrahtu had two sights on goal in the opening 100 seconds, but typical of their season - and what would also entail over the remaining 88 minutes - they could not find the killer touch to kick-start their 2013-14 campaign.
Cole's strike was then followed by a period of domination from Tony Popovic's visitors, and they could have made it two shortly after.
In the 32nd minute, centre-back Matthew Spiranovic - in his first game for last season's Premier's Plate winners - headed Shinji Ono's cross onto the crossbar, and Brendon Santalab's reflex header off the woodwork went high.
Spiranovic was an interesting selection from Popovic, who reportedly withdrew skipper Michael Beauchamp for the 25-year-old Socceroo for tactical reasons.
A vintage Williams strike from range almost found the Heart an equaliser, as his left-to-right swirling effort clipped the woodwork five minutes out from half-time.
Williams - the only man to score for the Heart this season - continued to give his all, and he almost turned provider when his bullet-like cross shortly after the interval came off Spiranovic and almost went in the back of the net.
Defenders Aziz Behich and Patrick Gerhardt were trying their luck with strikes from range, with no success, before Mooy had a chance for the Wanderers to double their lead, only for his swerving shot to miss just left of the target.
Nick Kalmar came on for Williams with 25 minutes to play and worked tirelessly, while fellow Heart substitute Stefan Mauk also stood out with some nice touches but Aloisi's men could not manufacture a goal for the fourth time in five matches this season.
Melbourne Heart 0 Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Cole 27) Crowd: 8070 @ AAMI Park
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