A-League: HAL 8 (2012 - 2013 Season)
Round 27 Review
31/03/2013
Jeremy Ruane
(with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com)

'Final round joy for Wests, Brisbane and Perth'

There was final round joy for Western Sydney Wanderers, Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory as the premiership phase of the 2012-13 Hyundai A-League drew to a close on Easter weekend.

Wests completed the incredible feat of winning the Premiers Plate in the first year of their existence, and they did it in style at Hunter Stadium, accounting for Newcastle Jets 3-0 to record their eighteenth win of the season to the delight of the bulk of the 22,518 present, many of whom had travelled up the F3 to cheer on the premiers-elect.

In truth, the game was over as a contest after just six minutes, because after Mark Bridge opened the scoring for the visitors, it meant Newcastle were faced with a mountain to climb, and a parsimonious defence to overcome as well.

It proved a bridge too far for the play-off hopefuls, and when Bridge doubled Western Sydney’s tally just after the half-hour mark, the silverware-winning celebrations started in a big way in the stands.

Newcastle came close when Adam Taggart hit the post twenty minutes from time, but on a night the home team needed to win, they only forced Ante Covic to produce one save of note, and when Rocky Visconte wrapped up the scoring ten minutes from time, Western Sydney were in dreamland!

That result meant there was little more than pride riding on the clash of Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Heart at Bluetongue Stadium, with the visitors probably needing to win more than their rivals to stave off the prospect of propping up the table.

Playing with ten men for over an hour didn’t aid Melbourne’s cause, however, Patrick Gerhardt being sent off for a handball offence which resulted in a penalty being awarded to Central Coast, and Melbourne boss John Aloisi being sent from the bench for making known his opposition to referee Jarred Gillett’s decision a tad too vehemently.

Daniel McBreen made no mistake from the spot to end the premiership campaign topping the Golden Boot charts with seventeen goals to his name. It was his shot which sparked the circumstances surrounding the penalty, Simon Colosimo clearing it off the line which prompted a scramble …

1-0 became 2-0 to the home team in the 63rd minute, Mitchell Duke tucking home to the delight of the 8,271 fans present, who were given a nervous final twenty minutes or so after Richard Garcia pulled one back for the visitors, who couldn’t muster a second goal in the remaining.

There was some relief for Melbourne Heart twenty-four hours later when cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory did them a favour by consigning Wellington Phoenix to the wooden spoon when downing the locals 3-2 in the wind at Westpac Stadium.

Former Wellington starlet Marco Rojas silenced the 6,813-strong crowd when giving the visitors a tenth minute lead which they somehow held onto beyond the half-time break, despite the locals dominating the first half.

When Marco Flores touched home following a Rojas corner eleven minutes into the second spell, there appeared no way back for Wellington, but incredibly, they were on level terms ten minutes later courtesy goals in as many minutes from Stein Huysegems and Jeremy Brockie.

It set up a grandstand finish in which both ‘keepers, Melbourne’s Nathan Coe and, in his final appearance before retiring, Wellington’s Mark Paston produced fine saves, but it was the Otorohanga-born Australian international Archie Thompson who was to have the final say, clinically clinching the points six minutes from time to end, on a losing note, a season best forgotten by Wellington fans.

The race for the last two play-offs spots saw four teams covered by a solitary point going into the final round, and two of them clashed in what was a winner-take-all-type clash.

Reigning champions Brisbane Roar’s familiarity with such fixtures proved telling as they cemented their play-offs berth with a sound 3-1 victory over Sydney FC, who were left to sweat on the outcomes of other matches to see if they would remain in the top six.

19,010 fans piled into Suncorp Stadium and saw Brisbane take charge of proceedings from the outset, their reward eventually materialising in the 29th minute as the “Killer Bs” combined, with Thomas Broich setting up Besart Berisha for the opening goal.

A Steve Lustica goal six minutes into the second spell doubled Brisbane’s advantage and left Sydney, who had gifted their hosts their lead through two errors, having to chase the game.

It was all but over for the league’s glamour club twenty minutes from time, however, Ivan Franjic curling home a gorgeous third goal via the far post, and while Alessandro Del Piero potted a penalty five minutes from time for Sydney, this was Brisbane’s day, and it’s not out of order to say they’re peaking at the perfect time, given we’re now into knock-out football, in which anything can happen (and usually does)!

Sydney’s hopes now relied on Newcastle and Perth Glory failing to pick up points in their final games. The former, of course, fell at the hands of the Premiers Plate winners, but what of the latter, who entertained Adelaide United at NIB Stadium?

A 1-1 draw was the outcome which delighted the vast majority in the 16,707-strong crowd, the point being enough to take Perth into the play-offs, ahead of Sydney on goal difference.

It was a nervous start by the home team, but Adelaide were unable to take advantage initially, which allowed Perth to work their way back into the match. But in the 25th minute, the home team spurned a great chance to open the scoring when Ryo Nagai hit the post from the penalty spot.

It proved the catalyst for Perth to dominate the bulk of the rest of the match, however. And when Adrian Zahra opened the scoring just shy of the hour mark, to the delight of the home fans, a fitting finale to the season appeared on the cards.

Adelaide had their own ideas on that score, though, and worked their way back into the contest, so much so that, as the game entered stoppage time, Jake Barker-Daish turned home the equaliser to briefly silence the Perth fans, who watched nervously as the visitors went close to pinching all three points soon after.

One point was enough, however, Perth’s golden run since coach Alistair Edwards took the post suffice to earn them the last of the six play-off spots, with the leading contenders, Western Sydney and Central Coast, enjoying a week’s break before taking on the victors of next weekend’s elimination matches.

Melbourne Victory host the first of them, so expect AAMI Park to be rocking on Friday evening as Perth visit. Meanwhile, Adelaide welcome Brisbane to Hindmarsh Stadium for a Sunday evening duel.

As this is the final Hyundai A-League review of the 2012-13 campaign, enjoy the play-offs, and best wishes for an enjoyable winter football season. Spotcha in October!

Details: Hyundai A-League, Round 27:

Brisbane Roar FC 3 (B. Berisha (29), S. Lustica (51), I. Franjic (79)) - Sydney FC 1 (A. Del Piero (84 pen)); HT 1-0
Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (D. McBreen (35 pen), M. Duke (63)) - Melbourne Heart FC 1 (R. Garcia (73)); HT 1-0
Newcastle Jets FC 0 - Western Sydney Wanderers FC 3 (M. Bridge (6, 33), R. Visconte (80)); HT 0-2
Perth Glory FC 1 (A. Zahra (58)) - Adelaide United FC 1 (J. Barker-Daish (90)); HT 0-0
Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (S. Huysegems (64), J. Brockie (66)) - Melbourne Victory FC 3 (M. Rojas (10), M. Flores (56), A. Thompson (84)); 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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