A-League: HAL 8 (2012 - 2013 Season)
Round 22 Review
25/02/2013
Jeremy Ruane
(with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com)

'Top Two Set Up Showdown With Contrasting Wins'

The top two teams in the Hyundai A-League scored contrasting wins in their respective 22nd round matches on the last weekend in February to set up a mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash next Saturday evening.

League leaders Central Coast Mariners scored a stunning 6-2 victory over Melbourne Victory at Bluetongue Stadium, a result which could have been even more resounding had Daniel McBreen not hit the crossbar with a penalty half-way through the second half.

Mitchell Duke opened the scoring for the Mariners in the seventeenth minute, but then conceded the penalty via which Mark Milligan levelled the scores six minutes later. But Duke soon made amends to restore the home team’s lead, and there was no stopping them in the second spell.

Michael McGlinchey scored the first goal of his hat-trick - he struck twice more in the last five minutes - in the 56th minute to extend Central Coast’s lead, before Leigh Broxham hit the post for Melbourne.

Cue the crossbar rattler from the league’s leading scorer, two minutes after which Melbourne reduced the deficit to 3-2 when Trent Sainsbury was in the wrong place at the wrong time and diverted the ball into his own net.

But Central Coast made light of the awful playing conditions to finish with a wet sail, substitute Nick Fitzgerald restoring their two-goal advantage nine minutes from time before McGlinchey’s late brace earned him the match ball, and a return to first place for the Mariners.

Western Sydney Wanderers temporarily topped the table for the first time in their maiden A-League season earlier in the evening, Aaron Mooy’s deflected effort just shy of the hour mark earning them a 1-0 win over Perth Glory.

11,772 fans braved the elements at Parramatta Stadium to see the local team record their seventh successive victory, equalling a record which has stood for since 2006, and they were good value for it in a match which saw the visitors create few chances, although Liam Miller’s late deflected effort came close to boosting the visitors’ play-off hopes.

Completing a trifecta of matches played in inclement conditions throughout New South Wales, Newcastle Jets and Brisbane Roar battled out a scoreless draw in front of 8,310 hardy souls at Hunter Stadium, a result which keeps the reigning champions on the outside looking in as far as the play-off placings are concerned.

Chances were at a premium in a match which suffered from the conditions, but Emile Heskey went closest for the home team when hitting the post in the sixth minute, while former Newcastle man Jade North was denied a goal against his old club by a questionable offside call in the shadows of the half-time whistle.

On Sunday afternoon, Adelaide United moved into third spot on the standings, but were forced to play with ten men for the last twenty minutes as they were held to a 2-2 draw by bottom-placed Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.

Just 4,892 fans turned out on a gloriously sunny day - a stark contrast to the weather in Australia - to watch a do-or-die match for the home team, but the visitors were the team who had come to play, United deservedly opening the scoring in the twentieth minute through Tomi Juric’s sharply taken shot on the turn.

Wellington came back strongly following that setback, and squandered a couple of golden opportunities to level the scores before Jeremy Brockie was gifted an equaliser by Eugene Galekovic on the half-hour.

Parity was short-lived, however, for Adelaide quickly regained the lead via a “Goal of the Season” contender. Cassio careered down the left before checking his run and squaring the ball to Marcelo Carrusca, who controlled the ball before unleashing an unstoppable rising twenty-yard half volley which crashed into the net off the underside of the bar.

It silenced the Wellington faithful, but didn’t deter their favourites, who kept on coming at Adelaide, finally gaining the ascendancy when former Wellington player Jon McKain was sent off for committing his second bookable offence half-way through the second half.

Adelaide mounted a stoic rearguard action following this, with Galekovic redeeming himself for his earlier blunder with a couple of stunning saves. But there was to be no denying Wellington a share of the spoils, Corey Gameiro securing a point for the home team with a thunderous twelve yard half-volley ten minutes from time.

In the final match of the round, Melbourne Heart replaced Sydney FC in the top six after conquering their rivals 3-1 in front of 13,752 fans at AAMI Park. There were jeers aplenty for new Sydney signing Lucas Neill, who turned down the home team in order to sign for the visitors - needless to say the natives took great delight in reminding Australia’s captain of the scoreline at the game’s conclusion!

Melbourne’s win came about largely thanks to two goals in five minutes just after the half-hour mark from Nick Kalmar and Jonatan Germano, and when Sebastian Ryall committed a professional foul in conceding a penalty early in the second spell, the game was as good as up for Sydney.

David Williams made it 3-0 from the resulting spot-kick, and while Joel Griffiths pulled a goal back soon after for the visitors, the ten men weren’t able to stave off a defeat which sees them leap-frogged by their conquerors in the race for the play-offs.

This week’s action sees Wellington and Newcastle clashing at Westpac Stadium on Wednesday in a match brought forward from the penultimate round of action to avoid a clash with FIFA World Cup qualifying dates, during which Wellington would be unable to field a team due to the number of their players who will be on All Whites’ duty.

Round twenty-three action sees three matches scheduled for Saturday evening, with Adelaide and Brisbane getting things under way at Hindmarsh Stadium. Then the top two clash in a mouth-watering affair - and a potential minor premiership decider - at Bluetongue Stadium, before Perth and Sydney lock horns at NIB Stadium.

Sunday’s fare sees A-League action taking place in Dunedin for the second successive season, as Wellington welcomes Melbourne Heart to Forsyth Barr Stadium in what is the second must-win match the New Zealand side will play this week. Meanwhile, Melbourne Victory and Newcastle wrap up the round’s action at AAMI Park.

Details: Hyundai A-League, Round 22:

Newcastle Jets FC 0 - Brisbane Roar FC 0
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (A. Mooy (58)) - Perth Glory 0; HT 0-0
Central Coast Mariners FC 6 (M. Duke (17, 32), M. McGlinchey (56, 86, 90), N. Fitzgerald (81)) - Melbourne Victory FC 2 (M. Milligan (23 pen), “oggie” (69)); HT 2-1
Melbourne Heart FC 3 (N. Kalmar (31), J. Germano (36), D. Williams (55 pen)) - Sydney FC 1 (J. Griffiths (58)); HT 2-0
Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (J. Brockie (31), C. Gameiro (80)) - Adelaide United FC 2 (T. Juric (20), M. Carrusca (33)); HT 1-2

By Jeremy Raune, from NZ

Details: Youth-League, Round 18 (last):

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Labinot Haliti 41', Jake McGing 92') - Perth Glory FC 1 (Slobodan Vulin 81')
Newcastle Jets FC 1 (Bradbery 23) - Brisbane Roar FC 3 (Meyer 1, 32, 67)
Melbourne Heart FC 0 - Sydney FC 3 (Kofinas 15, Mallia 33, Stevanja OG 92)
Melbourne Heart 0 - Sydney FC 3 (Kofinas 15, Mallia 33, Stevanja OG 92) Central Coast Mariners FC - Melbourne Victory (postponed due to foul weather) - this will be the Premiership deciding game.

Details: Womens League:

Finished for 2012/13

 

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