A-League: HAL 8 (2012 - 2013 Season)
Round 24 Review
11/03/2013
Jeremy Ruane
(with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com)

'Remarkable Rookies Rewrite Records'

Who would have thought that, with three rounds of the Hyundai A-League remaining, the competition’s newest club would be topping the table, five points clear of their nearest challengers?

That’s the situation after twenty-fourth round action took place on the second weekend in March, but Western Sydney Wanderers were made to work hard for their record ninth successive A-League victory by a Wellington Phoenix side which didn’t play like a team rooted to the bottom of the table.

Two penalties - from Shinji Ono in the first half and Mark Bridges three minutes into the second - saw the locals home 2-1 at Parramatta Stadium, much to the delight of the 15,809 fans present.

But Jeremy Brockie nearly brought Western Sydney’s golden run to an end. His was the equaliser which inspired Wellington to rise to the challenge posed by the league leaders, and in the shadows of the full-time whistle, the league’s co-leader in the Golden Boot charts was just a crossbar width away from taking the outright lead in that individual race, as well as levelling the scores in the contest.

Central Coast Mariners’ hopes of finishing on top of the pile suffered a massive blow at Sydney FC, where 16,155 fans saw the home side prevail 2-0 at Allianz Stadium, thanks to goals in each half from Sebastian Ryall and substitute Joel Chianese.

The long-time table-toppers were very much out of sorts throughout this match, which played right into the hands of a Sydney side striving to secure a top-six spot, a prospect which their impressive home form - this was their sixth successive three-point haul on home turf - has made highly possible, rather than highly improbable, as seemed the case earlier in the season.

12,624 fans witnessed a riveting encounter at Suncorp Stadium, where reigning champions Brisbane Roar and third-placed Melbourne Victory fought out a stirring 1-1 draw in a display of play-offs calibre football.

Both goalkeepers, Brisbane’s Michael Theo and Melbourne’s Nathan Coe, produced outstanding saves to keep their opponents at bay, but both were beaten on one occasion.

Leigh Broxham opened the scoring for Melbourne in the eleventh minute with a towering header - the wee man timed his run and leap to perfection to meet Archie Thompson’s measured cross. That advantage was nullified on the hour as Ivan Franjic broke through the offside trap and finished unerringly from close range.

Perth Glory left it very late - any later and it would have been Christmas! - but managed to keep alive their play-off hopes at Hunter Stadium on Friday evening with a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Newcastle Jets, who found Danny Vukovic in stunning form.

The visiting custodian dipped into his bag of tricks to pull off a couple of breathtaking saves which prevented Dominik Ritter and Michael Bridges from scoring goals which would have taken Newcastle to victory, Adam Taggart’s late first half equaliser having nullified Matias Cordoba’s 24th minute opener for the visitors.

It was Perth who would have the last laugh, however, Michael Thwaite swooping in stoppage time to silence the 10,807 fans present and steal all three points for the visitors, who, on the run of play, barely merited a share of the spoils.

The defeat leaves Newcastle in all sorts of strife, given they have just two games left to play, and are in a far from good space goal difference-wise, should the last of the top six spots come down to that determinant.

Melbourne Heart have dropped down to ninth spot on the table after succumbing to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of fourth-placed Adelaide United in Monday night’s match at AAMI Park, where the visitors hit the post in just the second minute through Tomi Juric.

That stirred the home team into life, and they had their fair share of chances before Adelaide’s Dario Vidosic hit the crossbar just after the half-hour mark. But when presented with the chance to score from twelve yards, after Melbourne conceded a penalty five minutes before half-time, Vidosic wasn’t going to miss this time.

When Iain Ramsay doubled Adelaide’s lead in stunning fashion eight minutes into the second spell, the writing was on the wall for Melbourne, much to the disappointment of the decidedly small crowd which numbered just 5,393 fans, who saw visiting substitute Fabio Ferreira clip the crossbar with another effort in the dying minutes.

Next week’s action kicks off with the clash of Adelaide and Newcastle on Friday evening at Hindmarsh Stadium. Twenty-four hours later, Melbourne Heart entertain Western Sydney at AAMI Park, before Sydney and Melbourne Victory lock horns at Allianz Stadium.

Sunday’s fare sees Central Coast and Brisbane doing battle once more, this time at Bluetongue Stadium, while at NIB Stadium, Perth and Wellington clash in what is the visiting team’s penultimate game of the campaign, one in which they were confirmed this weekend as the first team out of play-offs contention.

Details: Hyundai A-League, Round 24:

Brisbane Roar FC 1 (I. Frantic (59)) - Melbourne Victory FC 1 (L. Broxham (11)); HT 0-1
Melbourne Heart FC 0 - Adelaide United FC 2 (D. Vidosic (40 pen), I. Ramsay (53)); HT 0-1
Newcastle Jets FC 1 (A. Taggart (45)) - Perth Glory FC 2 (M. Cordoba (24), M. Thwaite (90)); HT 1-1
Sydney FC 2 (S. Ryall (26), J. Chianese (73)) - Central Coast Mariners FC 0; HT 1-0
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (S. Ono (7 pen), M. Bridge (48 pen)) - Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (J. Brockie 22)); HT 1-1

By Jeremy Raune, from NZ

Details: Youth-League:

Finished for 2012/13

Details: Womens League:

Finished for 2012/13

 

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