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Jan, 26, 2013

Disappointed Aloisi eyes A-League derby

Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi is banking on the adrenaline of next week's A-League derby to help his side move on from a puzzling performance against Western Sydney.

Aloisi was at a loss to explain a flat performance as the Heart were outplayed by the Wanderers, losing 1-0 at Parramatta Stadium despite playing with an extra man for most of the game.

After Wanderers' defender Jerome Polenz was sent off in the 13th minute and Josip Tadic missed the resulting penalty, the Heart barely created a chance and could have lost by more had Western Sydney been more clinical.

The Heart are still searching for their first win outside Melbourne this season and Aloisi was looking forward to a return to AAMI Park to face cross-town rivals the Victory on Saturday.

"We didn't perform but now we've got to look forward because we've got the derby and the good thing about that is, in Melbourne, we seem to perform well," Aloisi said.

"At the moment, away from home, we're struggling a bit.

"I thought we'd turned the corner against Sydney FC (a 2-1 loss a fortnight ago), playing what I thought was some of our best football.

"It was disappointing to play like we did in that match and lose but I'm more disappointed with our performance (against the Wanderers)."

The defeat left the Heart sitting just a point inside the top six and Aloisi acknowledged they would have to improve their away form if they were to make the finals.

Aloisi's injury-hit squad at least received a boost with the returns of Vince Grella and Eli Babalj off the bench against the Wanderers.

Socceroo veteran Grella ended 15 months of injury hell with his first competitive appearance since last playing for Blackburn in September, 2011.

Babalj's return came after he was released by Serbian club Red Star Belgrade following its failure to pay his full transfer fee, and Aloisi said both would be vital additions in the run to the finals.

"I'm pleased for (Grella) - it's been a long time since he last played," Aloisi said.

"And it's good to see Eli out there too. We're short on numbers, we need to get players back in and he'll be better for the run."

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