A-League: HAL 8 (2012 - 2013 Season)
Round 21 Review
Jeremy Ruane
(with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com)

'Shock Loss For Leaders Cuts Advantage To One Point'

Hyundai A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners saw their advantage at the top of the table cut to a solitary point on February 16, a result of being rolled 2-1 by Perth Glory in front of 5,909 fans at NIB Stadium.

The home team were under new management following the sacking of Ian Ferguson early in the week, and former Matildas gaffer Alistair Edwards saw his new charges threatening to be engulfed by an onslaught in the early stages of this match, as the visitors laid siege to Perthís goal.

But they only had Bernie Ibini-Iseiís thirteenth minute strike to show for this spell of dominance, and come the 27th minute, the table-toppers found themselves being pegged back by a superbly taken Travis Dodd strike which gave the home team belief.

Perth rode the wave on which it was carried and it afforded them a second goal, Shane Smeltz heading the locals in front just after the hour mark. After this, there was no way back for the visitors, with the Western Australians climbing off the bottom of the table thanks to this very welcome triumph.

Western Sydney Wanderers closed to within a point of the table-toppers by edging out an absentee-hit Melbourne Victory 2-1 at AAMI Park, where 21,638 fans saw the visitors get off to a flying start when Iacopo La Rocca was first to react to the loose ball following Shinji Onoís eleventh minute free-kick.

That blow dented the self-belief of a Melbourne side which struggled to get back into the contest afterwards, and found themselves trailing 2-0 when Ono rifled the rebound into the roof of the net eighteen minutes from time, after Nathan Coe had parried Youssouf Hersiís shot.

Young substitute Connor Pain pulled one back for the home team almost immediately, but it was not to be for Melbourne on this occasion, the third-placed team ultimately bowing to their second-placed opponents, whose sixth successive win this was.

Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets were the big movers on the table as the race for the remaining play-off spots intensifies. The latter kicked off the round by downing Melbourne Heart 2-0 at Hunter Stadium, where Emile Heskey delighted the 11,396 fans presented by rifling home the opening goal just ten minutes into the contest.

Eli Babalj led the visitorsí response, and went close on two other occasions in the first half either side of hitting the post in the 25th minute. But Adam Taggart replied in kind with a woodwork rattler for Newcastle in the second spell, before Ryan Griffiths wrapped up the points for the natives nine minutes from time.

Twenty-four hours later, Sydney made it five consecutive home wins by seeing off Adelaide United 2-1 in front of 15,602 fans at Allianz Stadium, many of whom were buoyed by the pre-match news that Lucas Neill will be joining the Sydneysiders for the rest of this A-League campaign.

At least it was something about which the fans could talk during a dire opening forty-five minutes. But whatever was in the half-time team needs bottling, because Sydney came out all guns blazing immediately after the interval, Alessandro Del Piero hitting the post with a free-kick before Terry Antonis opened the scoring in the 49th minute.

Blake Powell doubled their lead half-way through the second half to leave the locals well on course for three points, but Adelaide substitute - and new recruit - Tomi Juric set up a grandstand finish when pulling a goal back twelve minutes from time. It wasnít to be for the visitors, however, with Sydney moving up the table to be one spot behind fourth-placed Adelaide following this win.

The lone game on Sunday saw reigning champions Brisbane Roar cobble together an unspectacular 2-0 win over a Wellington Phoenix side which gifted their fellow strugglers both goals.

Defensive hesitancy was at the heart of Steven Lustinaís 33rd minute opener, while an awful Dani Sanchez pass was mercilessly punished four minutes into the second half by Besart Berisha to secure the points for the home team, who were only saved from going a goal down in the eighth minute by the fact that Wellington debutant, Corey Gameiro, had fouled Jade North seconds prior to putting the ball in the net.

Newcastle and Brisbane get the 22nd round of A-League action under way when they clash at Hunter Stadium on Friday evening, while twenty-four hours later New South Wales will play host to two other matches.

Western Sydney take on Perth at Parramatta Stadium, while Central Coast and Melbourne Victory feature in the clash of the round at Bluetongue Stadium. Sundayís fare sees Wellington welcoming Adelaide to Westpac Stadium, while Melbourne Heart and Sydney wrap up the round at AAMI Park.

Details: Hyundai A-League, Round 21:

Newcastle Jets FC 2 (E. Heskey (10), R. Griffiths (81)) - Melbourne Heart FC 0; HT 1-0
Melbourne Victory FC 1 (C. Pain (75)) - Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (I. La Rocca (11), S. Ono (72)); HT 0-1
Perth Glory FC 2 (T. Dodd (27), S. Smeltz (64)) - Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (B. Ibini-Isei (13)); HT 1-1
Sydney FC 2 (T. Antonis (49), B. Powell (67)) - Adelaide United FC 1 (T. Juric (78)); HT 0-0
Brisbane Roar FC 2 (S. Lustina (33), B. Berisha (49)) - Wellington Phoenix FC 0; HT 1-0

By Jeremy Raune, from NZ

Details: Youth-League, Round 17 (penultimate):

Perth Glory FC 4 (Corboda 28, Zahra 50, Sam 78, Vulin 82) - Melbourne Heart FC 1 (Mullett 89)
Newcastle Jets FC 6 (Lundy 36, Bradbery 55, 73, 90, Hoole 64, Pavicevic 86) - Adelaide United FC 1 (Briscoe 8)
Melbourne Victory FC 3 (Cristaldo 50, 87, Murname 89) - Western Sydney Wanderers FC 4 (Gibbs 7, 35, Olsen 29, Trifiro 65)
Sydney FC 0 - Central Coast Mariners FC 4 (Jenner 30, 81, Dixon 41, Paull 70)
AIS 3 (Marc Marino 26, 29, Dylan Smith 39) - Brisbane Roar FC 4 (Patrick Theodore 58, Benjamin Litfin 71, Matthew Thurtell 80, 85)

Details: Womens League:

Finished for 2012/13


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