The Heart have resurrected their season with two wins from their past two matches and will be full of confidence heading into this evening's clash with the Fury. Although they have left it late in both of their triumphs, over Adelaide United then Sydney FC, the Heart players will be happy to again have that winning feeling which evaded them for seven matches prior.
They dropped unceremoniously out of the top six as it seemed their season was getting away from them during that poor run but John van 't Schip's men are made of sterner stuff and the finals are well within their reach.
With all but one player to choose from, the squad is in good shape, and a win today will push them four points clear of seventh place Wellington Phoenix who have the weekend off.
In the Fury camp, things are not as rosy with just one win in six and this perhaps their last chance to stay within reach of the play-offs positions.
Their away form this season has been less than spectacular with just one win from 10 away from Dairy Farmers Stadium and even though this is a milestone match for the club - their 50th in the A-League - I expect the Heart to extend their run to three wins from three matches against the boys from Townsville.
Verdict: Heart 1-0
Melbourne Heart vs. North Queensland FuryDate: Sunday, 2 January 2010 Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne Local kick-off: 5:00pm Referee: Peter Green Head-to-Head: All matches (played 2): Melbourne Heart wins 2, North Queensland Fury wins 0 (0 draws) Match fact: This will be North Queensland Fury's 50th Hyundai A-League match.
Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1, FS1 HD and Sky Sports 2 (NZ). Hyundai A-League partner is 774 ABC (Melbourne), SEN and Zinc 100.7 FM (Townsville). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Melbourne Heart squad: 1.Clint BOLTON, 2.Michael MARRONE, 3.Brendan HAMILL, 4.Simon COLOSIMO, 5.Michael BEAUCHAMP, 6.Matt THOMPSON, 7.Rutger WORM, 8.Kristian SARKIES, 9.Gerald SIBON, 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 11.Alex TERRA, 12.Peter ZOIS, 15.John ALOISI, 16.Aziz BEHICH, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 20.Josip SKOKO, 21.Kliment TASESKI, 22.Nick KALMAR, 23.Dean HEFFERNAN, 25.Adrian ZAHRA *Five to be omitted* In: Brendan HAMILL (promoted), Kristian SARKIES (promoted), Alex TERRA (returns from injury), Kliment TASESKI (promoted), Dean HEFFERNAN (promoted) Out: Nil Unavailable: Eli Babalj (thigh - four weeks)
North Queensland Fury squad: 1. Justin PASFIELD (gk), 2. Jack HINGERT, 3. Brad McDONALD, 4. Eric AKOTO, 5. Mark HUGHES, 6. Ufuk TALAY (c), 7. Gareth EDDS, 8. Adam CASEY, 10. Dyron DAAL, 11. David WILLIAMS, 12. Panagiotis NIKAS, 13. Andre KILIAN, 14. Chris GROSSMAN, 15. Chris PAYNE, 16. Simon STOREY, 18. Brett STUDMAN, 21. Jason SPAGNUOLO, 24. Ramazan TAVSANCIOGLU, 28. Sebastian USAI (gk) * Four to be omitted* In: Jack HINGERT (promoted), Eric AKOTO (returns from injury), Adam CASEY (promoted), Brett STUDMAN (promoted) Out: Nil Unavailable: Osama MALIK (hamstring - 4-6 weeks), Isaka CERNAK (knee - unknown), Matthew HAM (knee -season)