A-League: HAL 8 (2012 - 2013 Season)
Round 18 Review
Jeremy Ruane
(with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com)

'Distinct Split In Standings With Full Round Remaining'

The Hyundai A-League boasts a distinct split between its top four and bottom six teams with two thirds of the season having been completed, following eighteenth round action on Australia Day weekend.

Leaders Central Coast Mariners extended their advantage atop the table to five points after coming from behind to down second-placed Adelaide United 3-1 in front of a disappointing top-of-the-table clash crowd of just 8,294 fans at Bluetongue Stadium.

The home team absolutely bossed the match, with United ‘keeper Eugene Galekovic standing between his side and a rout. The custodian made a superb save to deny Daniel McBreen’s second half penalty, while the post came to Adelaide’s rescue to prevent the league’s leading marksman from opening his account in the first half.

When the half-time whistle went, it was Adelaide who were the happier side, because Daniel Bowles had afforded them the lead six minutes earlier, and very much against the run of play.

It took the introducton of substitute Mitchell Duke, on the hour, to turn things round for Central Coast, the newcomer delivering twice in unerring fashion within twelve minutes of his taking to the field.

The league leaders weren’t satisfied with winning by a narrow margin, however, and continued to press home their superiority, eventually confirming it on the scoreboard two minutes from time through Michael McGlinchey.

That defeat saw Adelaide drop from second to fourth by the end of the weekend, with both Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers collecting three-point hauls to leapfrog their South Australian rivals - a single point is all that covers the trio at this stage of the season.

Wests’ 1-0 win over Melbourne Heart was earned the hard way, as they were reduced to ten men at Parramatta Stadium thirteen minutes into the match when Jerome Polenz was sent off for tackling from behind in the penalty area.

It presented the visitors with a tremendous opportunity to silence the 14,624-strong crowd, but Josip Tadic saw Ante Covic save his spot kick, an incident which gave the home team the impetus to kick on and dominate the match, eventually getting their reward seventeen minutes from time when Shinji Ono clinched victory from the penalty spot.

Earlier in the evening, Melbourne Victory dominated Sydney FC 3-1 at a sold-out AAMI Park, the visitors concluding the match with just nine players on the park after Tiago Calvano, on the hour, and Fabio Alves, in stoppage time, committed second bookable offences in a match in which referee Chris Beath brandished his cards twelve times in all.

Melbourne opened the scoring half-way through the first half when a goal-bound Marco Rojas effort was turned into his own net by Sebastian Ryall, after the Kiwi had swooped on a wayward back-pass.

The home team looked to build on this advantage, but it wasn’t until their opponents found themselves numerically challenged that Melbourne could make their presence felt again on the scoreboard.

But two goals in a five-minute spell around twenty minutes from time sealed the points for Melbourne, Archie Thompson and Rojas - another impressive strike, this time witnessed by scouts from some of Europe’s foremost clubs - putting the result beyond doubt, despite the fact Sydney pulled one back through Joel Griffiths with fifteen minutes remaining.

Reigning champions Brisbane Roar revived their play-off hopes thanks to a 1-0 win at NIB Stadium, as Perth Glory succumbed to a twenty-five yard grasscutter from James Meyer on the quarter hour.

The encounter between two injury-hit teams saw both Nick Ward and Ryo Nagai denied equalisers by goal-line clearances, as Perth slumped to their third successive defeat and extended their winless streak to six matches with this result.

The final result of the round saw Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle Jets battle out a 1-1 draw in front of 6,429 fans at Westpac Stadium, who witnessed a scrappy ten-a-side encounter as both teams danced to the tune of referee Ben Williams’ whistle.

The home team opened the scoring in the 21st minute, Louis Fenton bundling the ball home after Paul Ifill’s cross forced Newcastle goalkeeper Mark Birighitti to err. And when Sam Gallaway was sent off for committing his second bookable offence nine minutes into the second spell, an end to Wellington’s recent horror run of form appeared nigh.

But it was the ten men who kicked on from this setback, their growing pressure forcing Tony Lochhead to commit his second bookable offence of the match eighteen minutes from time, thus restoring numerical parity on the pitch.

And from James Brown’s resulting free-kick, there was numerical parity on the scoreboard as well, Emile Heskey heading home from point-blank range to ensure Newcastle ended their run of defeats in Wellington on the occasion of Ricki Herbert’s 150th game in charge of the home team.

Brisbane and Central Coast kick off nineteenth round action on Friday evening at Suncorp Stadium, while Saturday’s fare kicks off at the biggest sports ground in New Zealand, Auckland’s Eden Park, where Wellington and Perth will do battle.

A couple of derbies light up the night later that evening, the clash of Newcastle and Sydney at Hunter Stadium followed by the Melbourne derby at Etihad Stadium, with Victory deemed the home team.

The match of the round concludes the weekend’s action, with Adelaide and Western Sydney squaring off at Hindmarsh Stadium on Sunday in a clash between the third- and fourth-placed teams.

Details: Hyundai A-League, Round 18:

Central Coast Mariners FC 3 (Mitchell Duke (67, 72), Michael McGlinchey (88)) - Adelaide United 1 (Daniel Bowles (39)); HT 0-1
Melbourne Victory FC 3 (“oggie” (23), Archie Thompson (67), Marco Rojas (72)) - Sydney FC 1 (Joel Griffiths (75)); HT 1-0
Perth Glory FC 0 - Brisbane Roar FC 1 (James Meyer (16)); HT 0-1
Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (Louis Fenton (21)) - Newcastle Jets FC 1 (Emile Heskey (73)); HT 1-0
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (Singi Ono (73 pen)) - Melbourne Heart FC 0; HT 0-0

By Jeremy Raune, from NZ

Details: Youth-League, Round 14:

Perth Glory FC 3 (Harry O'Brien 27, Ndumba Makeche 34, Brandon O'Neill 78) - Sydney FC 4 (Hagi Gligor 16, Daniel Petkovski 37, 63 Nikola Taneski 54) - Intiga Stadium, Perth
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 4 (Jason Trifiro 3, Yianni Perkatis 34, Mark Cindric 61, Rocky Visconte 75) - Brisbane Roar FC 0
Melbourne Victory FC 3 (O'Dea 13, og (Abbott) 22', Makarounas 26) - Melbourne Heart FC 1 (Mauk 60')
AIS 2 (Marc Marino 37’, Joshua Barresi 90'+2) - Newcastle Jets FC 5 (Marko Jesic 2’, 73’, Brandon Lundy 46’, 57’, 85’)
Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (Patrick Dixon 24', Brad McDonald 30') - Adelaide United FC 1 (Tomas Briscoe 55')

Details: Womens League, Final:

Melbourne Victory FC 1 (Petra Larsson 41') - Sydney FC 3 (Nicola Bolger 25', Sam Kerr 48', Kyah Simon 85' pen)

W-League's hsort season now complete for 2012/13. Premiers were Brisbane Roar FC.


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