Sydney FC have missed the opportunity to move into the A-League top six despite a superb second-half comeback against the Melbourne Heart.A second-half brace from Shannon Cole helped Sydney FC claw back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to clinch a draw with Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park on Saturday.
The result means the Heart qualify for their first A-League finals campaign while the Sky Blues have to win in their final regular-seasong match, against Newcastle Jets, to make the top six.
It was a gutsy fight back from Vitezslav Lavicka's men after Mate Dugandzic and Eli Babalj capped a dominant opening half for the home side by each finding the back of the net in a hot six-minute period just before the break.
But momentum switched in the second half and substitute Cole made the Heart pay for defensive lapses with strikes on 66 and 77 minutes as Sydney once again rescued a result.
While the fifth-placed Heart are only one point clear of both the Jets and Sydney, their far superior goal difference means only one of those sides can overtake them before the end of the season.
After a cautious first half hour, the home side brought the game to life.
On 31 minutes captain Fred delivered deep into attack where Dugandzic did well left of the box to latch onto the high ball and volley a finish through the legs of Sky Blues gloveman Ivan Necevski.
Five minutes later, Fred blasted in another long ball and Dugandzic was in the thick of it again.
He fired from a tight angle and the shot took a deflection, before Babalj connected beautifully with a low header that speared past the right-hand post and into the back of the net.
The strike was Babalj's eighth of the season and equalled John Aloisi’s club record for most goals scored in one campaign.
Sydney made up for a lacklustre first-half with a determined second period.
The Sky Blues replaced Rhyan Grant with Shannon Cole at half time and they were the livelier team after the resumption.
The visitors were able to press further up the park and came very close to opening their account when Nick Carle hit the crossbar on 53 minutes. Bruno Cazarine was first to the rebound but his prod towards goal was saved by a diving Clint Bolton.
They made better use of their next chance. Cole came off the bench and dragged them back into the match with a 65th- minute goal following Brett Emerton's neat cross that had the Heart defence scrambling in the penalty box.
Cole then equalised from a free kick after advancing into the area unmarked.
From the right flank Scott Jamieson swung it in on the opportunist Cole's left and he caught the defence off guard to head past Bolton with 13 minutes left.
Heart immediately had a chance to counter attack but Alex Terra, fresh off the bench, had his shot inside the penalty area blocked.
Sydney brought on Mark Bridge in search of a winner but in the end they had to settle for a draw that sees them level on points with the Jets, with Newcastle holding on to sixth spot on goal difference.