A-League: HAL 8 (2012 - 2013 Season)
Round 26 Review
24/03/2013
Jeremy Ruane
(with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com)

'Final Round To Decide Premiers And Play-Off Spots'

The final round of action in the Hyundai A-League will determine which club will win the premiership, and the final make-up of the play-off contenders, after the penultimate round produced some intriguing results on the penultimate weekend in March.

19,585 fans piled into Parramatta Stadium and saw Western Sydney’s winning streak finally brought to an end, although they extended their unbeaten run as a result of being held to a 1-1 draw by cross-town rivals Sydney FC.

The visitors had enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, but were gifted their goal just after the half-hour when Nikolai Topor-Stanley’s pass went straight to the feet of Alessandro Del Piero, a situation which usually results in a goal, and certainly did on this occasion.

Sydney were reduced to ten men ten minutes after half-time, following the dismissal of Brett Emerton. It gave the league leaders the incentive to kick on against the ten men, and Shannon Cole’s sumptuous free-kick levelled the scores twenty minutes from time.

With the extra man, the home team pressed for a winner which would extend their winning streak to eleven, but it wasn’t to be, and their cause wasn’t aided by the stoppage time sending-off of Iacopo La Rocca, whose errant elbow is bound to see him sidelined for longer than the mandatory week.

That result meant Central Coast Mariners had to win at Adelaide United to keep the race for the minor premiership alive until the final round. They achieved their objective courtesy a 2-0 triumph in front of 8,069 fans at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Daniel McBreen gave the visitors the ideal start when netting in just the fourth minute, and while Adelaide had their chances to equalise - most notably when Iain Ramsay rattled the crossbar just shy of the hour mark, it was the second-placed team who finished the stronger, as proven by Mile Sterjovski’s stoppage time strike.

Perth Glory kept their play-off hopes very much alive with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory at Melbourne Victory, with both teams’ performances hampered by the absence of players on international duty. (Making one wonder why A-League matches are scheduled during a FIFA internationals window?)

Adrian Leijer delighted the locals among the 16,839-strong crowd at AAMI Park when heading home the opener in the thirteenth minute, but Perth levelled matters in spectacular fashion eight minutes later, Chris Harold’s stunning volley crashing into the net via the post.

Following fine work by the game’s star turn, Liam Miller, Travis Dodd steered the visitors in front seven minutes before half-time, with Perth being denied a penalty twenty minutes from time when Steven McGarry went down in the area.

Melbourne were bolstered by that let-off, and twice brought out the best in Danny Vukovic before youngster Christopher Cristaldo snatched what looked to be a point with a minute left on the clock.

Perth had other ideas, however, and deep in stoppage time Josh Risdon scored what could yet prove to be a priceless winner for the Western Australians, who appointed caretaker coach Alistair Edwards on a permanent basis during the week.

Reigning champions Brisbane Roar kept their hopes of another title alive by downing Melbourne Heart 2-0 in front of 9,869 fans at Suncorp Stadium to surge into fifth spot in the table.

It means four teams are covered by a solitary point going into the final round of action, and two of them will join Melbourne in missing out on the play-offs, because this defeat ended those hopes for John Aloisi’s team.

Melbourne Heart have failed to win outside their home city since December 2011, and that record never looked like being halted once Besart Berisha fired Brisbane in front from the penalty spot just twelve minutes into this contest.

A Thomas Broich belter just after the half-hour mark - he thundered home a twenty-five yarder - put Brisbane well and truly on the road to victory, while Stef Nijland hit the post in the second spell as the home team kept their rivals at arm’s length.

Easter weekend marks the final round of action in the premiership phase of the competition, and kicks off on Thursday evening with the blockbuster clash of Brisbane and Sydney at Suncorp Stadium.

On Good Friday, Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney lock horns at Hunter Stadium, while Easter Saturday’s action sees Central Coast entertaining Melbourne Heart at Bluetongue Stadium, before Perth and Adelaide draw swords at NIB Stadium.

The final fixture before play-offs action commences sees Wellington Phoenix welcoming Melbourne Victory to Westpac Stadium on Easter Sunday.

There will also be plenty of interest in the Golden Boot stakes, with McBreen having netted sixteen goals this season, one more than Wellington’s Jeremy Brockie. Two goals further adrift are Berisha, Del Piero and Melbourne Victory’s Marco Rojas.

Details: Hyundai A-League, Round 26:

Melbourne Victory FC 2 (A. Leijer (13), C. Cristaldo (89)) - Perth Glory FC 3 (C. Harold (21), T. Dodd (38), J. Risdon (90)); HT 1-2
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (S. Cole (69)) - Sydney FC 1 (A. Del Piero (34)); HT 0-1
Brisbane Roar FC 2 (B. Berisha (12 pen), T. Broich (31)) - Melbourne Heart FC 0; HT 2-0
Adelaide United FC 0 - Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (D. McBreen (4), M. Sterjovski (90)); 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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