Melbourne Heart looked like a team out of ideas as they lost 1-0 in their A-League match against the Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday night.
Saturated and defeated by a Shannon Cole sucker punch, the result will heap more pressure on struggling Heart coach John Aloisi.
As the rain poured down in the second half, a glimpse at the two coaches was instructive.
Wanderers’ Tony Popovic was sheltered by an umbrella, while a stoic Aloisi was drenched by the rain.
It was the second week in a row Heart had the better of the first half without reward – but unlike their trip to Brisbane last week, the Wanderers didn’t wait to punish them.
In the 27th minute, Adam D’Apuzzo’s cross was nodded on by Tomi Juric to Shannon Cole, who thrashed the ball past Andrew Redmayne on his second attempt.
Just minutes after Cole’s opener, Shinji Ono found the towering Matthew Spiranovic who headed onto the bar, the rebound catching Brendon Santalab unawares and he headed over from a metre in front.
Despite seven shots to two in the first half, the closest the Heart came was a long shot which rattled the crossbar from David Williams.
He increasingly became the fulcrum of Heart’s creative efforts as the match went on but was surprisingly replaced by Nick Kalmar.
Entering the final frenetic minutes, Mate Dugandzic headed against the bar for Heart and Kalmar headed over.
As Heart committed more men forward, substitute Labinot Haliti fired just wide and Juric chose to shoot rather than pass to the open Aaron Mooy.
Still, Popovic cannot complain with the gritty victory that sees his side top of the league.
Aloisi’s team are yet to win and sit on the bottom of the A-League table, level on two points with Wellington, who have a game in hand.