A-League: HAL 8 (2012 - 2013 Season)
Round 1 Review
Jeremy Ruane
(with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com)

'Crowds flock to opening tound of A-League action'

Over 93,000 fans - a new competition record - flocked to the opening round of 2012-13 Hyundai A-League on the first weekend in October, lured by the attraction of plenty of star names having been recruited to the competition, and the debut of a new club, the fourth based in New South Wales.

Western Sydney Wanderers marked their debut in the A-League with a scoreless draw against Central Coast Mariners at Parramatta Stadium, where 10,458 fans braved the inclement weather on Saturday evening to witness a historic encounter light on goalscoring opportunities.

The same can’t be said for the opening game of the season, with 42,032 fans piling into Etihad Stadium on Friday night to witness the Melbourne derby, a clash which saw Heart prevailing by a 2-1 scoreline over a Victory combination under new management - Ange Postecoglou, who guided Brisbane Roar to last season’s A-League title, has been lured south.

A chance-laden encounter saw David Williams open the scoring for Heart in the fourteenth minute, but within ten minutes Marco Rojas had replied for Victory to set up a cracking derby.

Victory’s Marco Flores was only denied from giving his team the lead on the stroke of half-time by the crossbar, but from the rebound, Heart stormed downfield and restored their advantage through Dylan MacAllister.

They would have scored more goals but for the exploits of Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas, on a night when profligate finishing prevented the older Melbourne side from earning a share of the spoils.

Sydney FC’s close-season activity saw them pull off arguably the biggest transfer coup in the A-League’s history as they secured the services of former World Cup and two-time European Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero from Juventus.

Sadly for the Italian, those whom he is playing alongside are nowhere near up to his level, a fact underlined in their 2-0 loss at Westpac Stadium to a Wellington Phoenix side which delighted the 12,057 fans who attended with a performance which could well have seen them prevail by an even bigger margin.

New signings Benjamin Totori and Stein Huysegems both hit the woodwork and captain Andrew Durante had a goal ruled out for a foul on Sydney goalkeeper Ivan Necevski before former Belgian international Huysegems clinically struck the opening goal two minutes before half-time.

Anything good which Sydney produced invariably bore Del Piero’s pawmarks, but such opportunities were few and far between for the visitors, who fell further behind fifteen minutes from time when impressively performed youngster Louis Fenton executed the perfect diving header from twelve yards to wrap up the points for Ricki Herbert’s charges.

Adelaide United also recorded a 2-0 victory in the opening round, Dario Vidosic affording them the perfect start at Hunter Stadium by netting inside the first sixty seconds, much to the chagrin of Newcastle Jets.

14,868 fans went along to watch former Liverpool and England striker Emile Heskey make his debut for the home team, but it was at the other end of the park where there was more action, with Newcastle goalkeeper Mark Birighitti sent off just before the hour mark for handling the ball outside his penalty area.

The ten men battled bravely against a side fresh off the plane from Tashkent, where Adelaide suffered a midweek defeat in Asian Champions League action. But they made light of their travel commitments to clinch the points sixteen minutes from time through Iain Ramsay.

Perth Glory left it even later to snare the spoils in the replay of last season’s Grand Final against Brisbane Roar, with substitute Billy Mehmet heading home two minutes from time to start the reigning champions’ campaign on a losing note.

The 1-0 win thrilled the 14,385 present, the decisive moment coming late in a match which saw few clear-cut opportunities engineered by either team. Brisbane’s Besart Berisha managed to renew acquaintances with a few of his rivals in his own inimitable style, however, while the closest the visitors came to scoring saw Ben Halloran rattle the post seconds after Mehmet’s match-winning contribution.

Next weekend’s action kicks off on Friday evening with Adelaide entertaining Western Sydney at Hindmarsh Stadium. Twenty-four hours later, Sydney and Newcastle draw swords at Allianz Stadium, while Brisbane and Melbourne Victory do battle at Suncorp Stadium. On Sunday, Central Coast and Perth clash at Bluetongue Stadium after two of the opening round winners lock horns at AAMI Park.

But Wellington will be decidedly under-strength for their visit to Melbourne Heart, a result of Football Federation Australia choosing to ignore FIFA requirements where designated international match-days are concerned and automatically release players selected to represent their countries.

The New Zealand-based club has been denied dispensation to defer their second round A-League match by the powers that be, despite the fact half the Wellington squad which played in their opening round fixture, not to mention their coach, will be involved in Oceania World Cup qualifying matches set down for Friday and the following Tuesday.

Totori and his Solomon Islands team-mates entertain New Caledonia on Friday before travelling to Noumea for the later encounter, while the All Whites will take on Tahiti at Christchurch’s AMI Stadium on Tuesday 16 October, just three days after the teams clash in Papeete.

Details: Hyundai A-League, Round 1:

Melbourne Victory 1 (M. Rojas (24)) - Melbourne Heart 2 (D. Williams (14), D. MacAllister (45)) HT 1-2
Newcastle Jets 0 - Adelaide United 2 (D. Vidosic (1), I Ramsay (74)) HT 0-1
Perth Glory 1 (B. Mehmet (88)) - Brisbane Roar 0 HT 0-0
Wellington Phoenix 2 (S. Huysegems (43)), L. Fenton (75)) - Sydney FC 0 HT 1-0
Western Sydney Wanderers 0 - Central Coast Mariners 0

Details: Youth-League, Round 1:

Yet to commence

Details: Womens League, Round 1:

Yet to commence

By Jeremy Raune, from NZ


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