R12: Aloisi’s reign ends as Brisbane surge clear again

Hyundai A-League – Season 2013/2014 – Round 12 Review
by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

Brisbane Roar surged four points clear at the top of the Hyundai A-League following the post-Christmas round of fixtures in 2013, one which saw Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi receive the card he’d been dreading after the bottom-placed side failed to win yet again.

Wellington Phoenix edged the home team 1-0 at AAMI Park in the battle of the cellar-dwellers to leave Melbourne six points adrift at the bottom of the table, and without a win in seventeen games – they last collected three points in February.

Stein Huysegems’ goal fifteen minutes from time silenced the majority of the 6,486 fans, who had seen Carlos Hernandez hit the post for the visitors half-way through the first half of a typically tight tussle between two teams trying to ignite their campaigns with the half-way mark of the season on the horizon.

Hernandez was later ruled out for six weeks with a broken wrist, while the defeat proved to be one too many for Aloisi, whose tenure was terminated a couple of days later amid rumours that a change of ownership for the Melbourne Heart franchise is imminent.

At the opposite end of the table, Brisbane made a statement of some magnitude on Boxing Day evening, coming from behind to thrash Sydney FC 5-2 in front of 17,662 fans at Allianz Stadium.

The home team opened the scoring courtesy a sumptuous Alessandro Del Piero free-kick in the eleventh minute, but some Thomas Broich brilliance brought about parity eight minutes later, Luke Brattan having supplied his team-mate with a peach of a pass to penetrate Sydney’s rearguard.

Cue Dimitri Patratos. The former Sydney striker came back to haunt his old club with a vengeance in this match, bagging a hat-trick, with two of his goals coming from the penalty spot – one a retaken effort – as the hosts indulged in the festive spirit by gifting their opponents a couple of chances to score from twelve yards, either side of half-time.

Ivan Franjic wrapped up Brisbane’s 100th A-League win – the first club to achieve the feat – in stoppage time, while Richard Garcia’s last-gasp goal, gifted him by Michael Theo’s bizarre behaviour, was of scant consolation to a Sydney side which was destroyed 4-0 by the league leaders in Queensland earlier in the campaign.

Brisbane’s emphatic triumph added extra weight to the clash of the third- and second-placed teams at AAMI Park a couple of days later, where 22,133 fans saw Western Sydney Wanderers’ bid to remain two points behind the table-toppers thwarted in the dying seconds of their clash with Melbourne Victory by Guilherme Finkler’s superb free-kick, which earned the home team a deserved 1-1 draw.

In a game laden with chances, but marred by pre-match violence in the city and near the ground involving both clubs’ more fanatical elements, Nathan Coe produced a splendid reflex save to deny Labinot Haliti’s header, while at the other end of the park, Connor Pain missed an open goal when losing his footing at precisely the wrong moment.

There were penalty claims from both teams for instances of ball striking hand in the area, before visiting substitute Brendan Santalab broke the deadlock twenty minutes from time to put Western Sydney on course for victory.

Melbourne came home with a wet sail, however, substitute Andrew Nabbout having a goal disallowed in the dying minutes. But they looked to be out of luck until Finkler’s last-gasp heroics from twenty-five yards earned his side a share of the spoils.

Adelaide United ended Newcastle Jets’ hopes of concluding the round in third place by edging the Novocastrians 1-0 in front of 10,778 fans at Coopers Stadium, where Bruce Djite’s poacher’s strike just before the half-hour settled a contest in which the yellow card was brandished seven times by referee Chris Beath.

In a hard-fought encounter, United’s Steven Lustica went close to doubling his team’s advantage when hitting both posts with a shot which was initially saved by Jets’ ‘keeper Mark Birighitti. Try as they might, the visitors failed to muster an equaliser, leaving Brisbane as the only team among the top five to win in this round.

It was left to reigning champions Central Coast Mariners to round out 2013, and they did it in dramatic fashion with a 2-1 win over Perth Glory at Bluetongue Stadium, with one of Michael McGlinchey’s final acts for the home team being to score the winner in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

The New Zealand international is heading to Japanese club Vegalta Sendai on a year-long loan, and in his penultimate match, he followed in to convert after Joshua Rose had hit the post.

This delighted the 12,919 fans present, many of whom were resigned to ending the year with a share of the spoils after Steven McGarry had dragged Perth level from the penalty spot six minutes from time.

Trent Sainsbury opened the scoring for Central Coast in the twelfth minute of an enthralling match which had a bizarre twist in stoppage time, besides the dramatic winner.

Perth captain Jacob Burns was sent off for two bookable offences, the second of which was a ruling of dissent by referee Shaun Evans as Burns waited to return to the field, having twice gone to the sideline to have his head bandaged following an elbowing incident which also involved Central Coast’s Mile Sterjovski.

The New Year’s round of fixtures kicks off on New Year’s evening, with Western Sydney welcoming Wellington to Pirtek Stadium. Two days later, Adelaide and Sydney do battle at Coopers Stadium, while on Sunday, Central Coast and Melbourne Heart wrap up the round at Bluetongue Stadium.

Prior to that match, there’s a double-header on Saturday evening, with Newcastle and Perth locking horns at Hunter Stadium before Melbourne Victory look to peg Brisbane back at AAMI Park.

Match details:
Adelaide United FC 1 (B. Djite (26)) – Newcastle Jets FC 0; HT 1-0
Melbourne Heart FC 0 – Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (S. Huysegems (75)); HT 0-0
Melbourne Victory FC 1 (G. Finkler (90)) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (B. Santalab (71)); HT 0-0
Sydney FC 2 (A. Del Piero (11), R. Garcia (90)) – Brisbane Roar FC 5 (T. Broich (19), D. Petratos (23 pen, 35, 78 pen), I. Franjic (90)); HT 1-3
Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (Trent Sainsbury (12), Michel McGlinchey (90)) – Perth Glory FC 1 (Steve McGarry (84 pen)) HT 1-0

P W D L F A GD Pts
Brisbane Roar 12 9 0 3 24 11 +13 27
Western Sydney Wanderers 12 6 5 1 14 8 +6 23
Melbourne Victory 12 5 4 3 18 12 +6 19
Central Coast Mariners 12 5 4 3 12 14 -2 19
Newcastle Jets 12 5 3 4 13 12 +1 18
Sydney FC 12 6 0 6 15 18 -3 18
Adelaide United 12 3 4 5 17 17 0 13
Perth Glory 12 3 4 5 11 14 -3 13
Wellington Phoenix 12 2 4 6 11 16 -5 10
Melbourne Heart 12 0 4 8 9 22 -13 4

By Jeremy Ruane

No NYL and W-League rounds