John Aloisi defends lowly Melbourne Heart

The Melbourne Heart boss is hopeful despite a third straight loss, while Wanderers coach Tony Popovic has made no apologies for dropping captain Michael Beauchamp from the squad
Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi has defended his side's lack of scoring prowess after they were held goalless for the fourth time in five matches in a 1-0 loss to the Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday night.

Heart were desperately unlucky not to find the back of the net at AAMI Park, with both David Williams and Mate Dugandzic seeing efforts denied by the crossbar.

Aloisi, who is likely to come under increased scrutiny following a third consecutive loss, conceded Heart lacked numbers in danger areas at times, but said a flurry of near-misses showed his men were on the right track.

"Hitting the crossbar twice... I wouldn't say toothless," Aloisi said when asked about Heart's forward prowess.

"I wouldn't say getting balls cleared off the line (was) a bit toothless.

"I would say that on occasions when we get in good positions, we could have more players in the box, more bodies in there.

"But when you're creating that many chances against Western Sydney, who are the most organised side in the league, then you're doing something right.

"And we'll get better – I'd be very, very worried if we weren't creating opportunities.

"It's not easy that we're only on two points, and I know our supporters will start to get a little bit frustrated with that, but they could see the amount of hard work the players put in tonight, and what we tried to do.

"Hopefully, for the supporters, we start to win games soon."

Williams is the only man to have scored in a Heart shirt this season, but Aloisi said bringing on midfielder Nick Kalmar for the former North Queensland Fury man in the 64th minute was the right call.

"Nicky Kalmar looked very good when he came in. Very good," he said.

"He was starting to get into good positions, starting to move the ball forward, young Stefan Mauk looked good. We got on top of them in the last 25 minutes, so the substitutes worked well.

"Willo looked heavy, he looked heavy during the week, he's been playing well but he looked heavy tonight."

Aloisi said the mental pressure of having scored in just one game this season has been a factor playing against his side late on in matches.

"Towards the end, they start to become anxious because they're snatching at some chances," he said.

"But last week, we spoke about it – if we keep improving as a team and creating chances, with the players that we've got in there, like Michael (Mifsud) that is a goal-scorer, the goals will come.

"It's five games in, there's still 22 games to go.

Meanwhile, Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said he is determined to keep his players hungry and on edge after dropping captain Michael Beauchamp.

Scarily, Popovic said Beauchamp did nothing wrong to miss out on selection for their clash at AAMI Park, but that he wanted to blood club debutant Matthew Spiranovic in central defence.

"I felt for this match it was right to bring Matty in," Popovic said post-match, after Nikolai Topor-Stanley donned the skipper's armband.

"It's got nothing to do with the way Michael's been playing, he's been outstanding for us.

"We've got a strong squad, there's competition for places every week and that was the call for this game."

The Wanderers boss even intimated Beauchamp was not a walk-up starter for their hosting of Melbourne Victory next Saturday night, with Popovic's team-first mantra loud and clear after their gutsy performance.

"I think as a group and as a squad, there's a lot of respect in the group, whether you're a starter, whether you're a squad player.

"When I say starter, I mean starter for that week.

"Everyone's fighting to be in there, but the players that aren't involved are equally a big part of this club, and Michael's a big part of this club.

"He hasn't played today, but he might play next week... there's no-one that plays that is guaranteed a spot.

"I've always told my squad every player will play, when they will play I can't promise them that, but they will play."

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