Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi is holding out hope of a finals place despite the loss to Adelaide United, with Reds counterpart Michael Valkanis urging his men to stay focused
|By JONATHAN HEALY
Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi says his side will not give up on sneaking into the top six and playing finals for the second-straight season.
Heart made it hard for themselves by falling to a 2-0 defeat against Adelaide United at home on Monday and now need to pick up at least two wins from their remaining three matches if they are to have any chance of appearing in the A-League post-season.
Aloisi's side sit three points behind sixth-placed Newcastle, but tough matches against Western Sydney, Brisbane and Central Coast in the final three weeks makes it a tall order for Heart to finish in the top six.
"We have made it hard for ourselves, but we will move on to the next game and try and pick the boys up and try and beat Western Sydney," Aloisi said after the loss to Adelaide.
"We had been winning at home on a consistent basis, but we had made it hard on ourselves by not picking up points away from home.
"Now we have to turn that around. Win at home next week and then pick up points away from home.
"We won't give up. It is still close and we have still got a chance of making the six so we have just got to do what we can and pick up the points."
Aloisi was disappointed with his side's performance against Adelaide, although he made note of the opening 20 minutes of the contest when Heart had several chances to score.
Nick Kalmar was thwarted by veteran Adelaide goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic on at least three occasions, while Croatian striker Josip Tadic will think he should have done better with a header in the 10th minute.
"Eugene kept them in the game and we should have punished them," Aloisi said.
"Three great chances we had… they weren't really causing us problems.
"They got the penalty and they were better than us after that.
"We really struggled, they grew in confidence and in the second half they were a lot better than us."
Aloisi defended his decision to leave Patrick Gerhardt and Jonatan Germano out of his match-day squad against Adelaide, indicating the duo were omitted to 'freshen things up'.
Adelaide United coach Michael Valkanis, meanwhile, said his team cannot rest on their laurels, despite the fact they are virtually assured of playing at home in the first week of the A-League finals.
The Reds moved nine points clear of fifth-placed Sydney FC with victory over Heart, and now need just one point from their remaining three matches to be certain of a top-four finish.
But Valkanis believes Adelaide need to forget about the table and start concentrating on performing consistently in the run-in to the finals.
"We have had our ups and down in form, but we need to switch on and keep it on," a frank Valkanis said after the match.
"You keep thinking that we have got games in front of us and we are in the finals, but we just need to think about it a game at a time."