A-League: HAL 8 (2012 - 2013 Season)
Round 25 Review
18/03/2013
Jeremy Ruane
(with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com)

'Plate presentation looms, but top six no clearer'

The destiny of the Hyundai A-League’s Premiership Plate became increasingly apparent on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, but the identity of the final two teams in this season’s play-offs is still no clearer with just nine games remaining in the round-robin phase of the campaign.

League leaders Western Sydney Wanderers continued on their winning ways, their tenth consecutive three-point haul coming at the expense of Melbourne Heart, who had Simon Colosimo sent off inside the last ten minutes as they went down 3-1 at AAMI Park.

6,101 fans saw Labinot Haliti open the scoring on the half-hour for the visitors, only for Golgol Mebrahtu to batter home a twenty-five yarder six minutes before half-time for a Melbourne side which was only prevented from going to the dressing rooms a goal to the good by an offside flag.

Haliti restored the league leaders’ advantage on the hour mark with his second deft finish of the game, and after Colosimo had been sent off for a tackle from behind, Western Sydney’s numerical superiority allowed them to finish over the top of the home team, Iacopo La Rocca wrapping up the win with a delightful finish in the dying minutes.

Had second-placed Central Coast Mariners dropped any points at home to reigning champions Brisbane Roar, the 7,225 fans on hand at Bluetongue Stadium would have headed home safe in the knowledge that Western Sydney would have clinched that piece of silverware with two weeks to spare.

But Graham Arnold’s side kept the table-toppers honest for a further week by securing a 1-0 win over Brisbane, Bernie Ibini-Isei’s winner eleven minutes before half-time edging a contest in which Coast’s Daniel McBreen and Brisbane’s Stefan Nijland both hit the woodwork.

A bumper 22,233-strong crowd saw Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory produce a 1-1 draw at Allianz Stadium, a result which brought to an end the home team’s run of wins at the ground.

They fell behind to a Mark Milligan strike in just the third minute of play, but Sydney had the chances to score a come-from-behind victory. Particularly profligate for the locals was Alessandro Del Piero, with a missed second half penalty amongst his catalogue of close calls in this match.

Had Sydney failed to get anything from the match, it would have been a travesty. So when Yairo Yau headed home the equaliser five minutes from time, it was a case of justice served in a match which saw Marco Rojas spurn a few opportunities for the visitors.

Both Adelaide United and Newcastle Jets suffered from poor calls by match officials as they fought out a 1-1 draw in front of 7,284 fans at Hindmarsh Stadium, a result which all but ends the visitors’ play-off hopes.

Adam Taggart was wrongly denied an eighth minute opener for Newcastle by an offside call which never was, while Dario Vidosic was prevented from celebrating a stoppage time winner for United when team-mate Jeronimo Neumann was flagged for offside - again, not so.

Needless to say, both teams were livid upon seeing the video evidence of the goals which weren’t, particularly given so much is at stake in both their campaigns with the competition’s climax upon us.

The goals which were awarded weren’t exactly run-of-the-mill, either. Newcastle opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time through Michael Bridges, off whom the ball ricocheted after Craig Goodwin let fly with an indirect free-kick inside the penalty area.

The set-piece had been awarded after Eugene Galekovic grabbed a defensive throw-in from Cameron Watson which ended up landing between Nigel Boogaard and himself, With Newcastle players lurking, the ‘keeper’s instinctive action prevented the opposition from capitalising on any hesitancy. Little did he know what lay in store …

Adelaide’s equaliser materialised four minutes into the second half, Michael Carrusca turning an opponent before unleashing a scorcher beyond Mark Birighitti,’s despairing dive in a match which saw both teams hit the woodwork in a lively affair.

The shock of the round came at NIB Stadium on Sunday evening, where Wellington Phoenix upset Perth Glory 2-1 in front of 6,360 fans who had turned up expecting the home team to down the bottom-placed side and fire themselves into fifth place on the table.

Instead, they found their team being upstaged by a Wellington side which is enjoying its football again, as evidenced by the resurgent form of Paul Ifill, who opened the scoring ten minutes before half-time.

That goal was provided by the league’s co-leading scorer, Jeremy Brockie, and he also set up Wellington’s second goal half-way through the second half, Stein Huysegems heading home the cross to silence the natives.

Perth had been frustrated throughout proceedings by Wellington ‘keeper Glen Moss, and he again denied them a share of the spoils with a stoppage time save. But fifteen minutes from time he was beaten by a towering header from Ryo Nagai, a goal which gave the home team hope, which ultimately proved to be forlorn.

Next Saturday’s action in the penultimate round of the competition kicks off with the clash of Melbourne Victory and Perth at AAMI Park, a match followed by the Sydney derby at Parramatta Stadium.

Then on Sunday, Brisbane and Melbourne Heart lock horns at Suncorp Stadium before Adelaide and Central Coast wrap up a truncated 26th round at Hindmarsh Stadium, Newcastle having edged Wellington 2-1 in a match which was brought forward to 27 February owing to the World Cup qualifying commitments of the New Zealand players next weekend.

Details: Hyundai A-League, Round 25:

Adelaide United FC 1 (M. Carrusca (49)) - Newcastle Jets FC 1 (M. Bridges (44)); HT 0-1
Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (B. Ibini-Isei (34)) - Brisbane Roar FC 0 HT 1-0
Melbourne Heart FC 1 (G. Mebrahtu (39)) - Western Sydney Wanderers FC 3 (L. Haliti (29, 60), I. La Rocca (88)); HT 1-1
Perth Glory FC 1 (R. Nagai (76)) - Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (P. Ifill (35), S. Huysegems (67)); HT 0-1
Sydney FC 1 (Y. Yau (85)) - Melbourne Victory FC 1 (M. Milligan (3)); HT 0-1

By Jeremy Raune, from NZ

Details: Youth-League:

Finished for 2012/13

Details: Womens League:

Finished for 2012/13

 

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