R8: Brisbane stretch lead after Wellington hold Wests

Hyundai A-League – Season 2013/2014 – Round 8 Review
by Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

Brisbane Roar extended their lead atop the Hyundai A-League to three points as December fixtures made their first appearance on the calendar, after closest rivals Western Sydney Wanderers were held to a scoreless draw at Wellington Phoenix.

The Queenslanders scored their sixth successive win at Suncorp Stadium when downing Perth Glory 1-0 on Saturday evening, thanks to yet another goal from Besart Berisha, his third of the campaign.

12,308 fans were celebrating after his 57th minute strike settled a contest dominated by the home team, although they could have fallen behind in first half stoppage time when Luke Brattan cleared off the line to deny Michael Thwaite a headed goal.

That was one goal more than that witnessed by the 7,147 fans who witnessed Wellington Phoenix’s return to their spiritual home, Westpac Stadium, aka “The Caketin”, on Sunday, where they held Western Sydney to a 0-0 draw.

Defences generally dominated proceedings, as the scoreline would suggest, with Andrew Durante and Nicolai Topor-Stanley, in particular, standing out in this regard. But Mark Bridge spurned a glorious chance to win the match for the visitors thirteen minutes from time, while Paul Ifill’s header hit the post in stoppage time as the home team looked to clinch all three points at the death.

The round kicked off on Friday evening with Australia’s AFC Champions League representatives clashing at Bluetongue Stadium. 5,787 fans saw Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory battle out a scoreless draw in which the visitors squandered more than their fair share of chances.

Mitch Nichols had a goal disallowed in the fourteenth minute, while Mike Milligan rattled the crossbar just after half-time in a match in which neither goalkeeper was greatly tested.

Twenty-four hours later, Sydney FC proved themselves the big movers among the teams trailing the leading duo by downing Newcastle Jets 2-0 in front of 14,803 fans at Allianz Stadium.

Seconds after Alessandro Del Piero had hobbled off unannounced with a hamstring twinge, Joel Chianese opened the scoring for Sydney on the stroke of half-time, and the Italian’s replacement, Ranko Despotovic, doubled his team’s tally on the hour in an F3 derby in which Newcastle also had chances to score, most notably through Nathan Burns and Adam Taggart, the league’s leading marksman.

But the home team proved too strong for their inter-state rivals, and a club record fourth successive win left them occupying second spot on the ladder heading into Sunday’s matches.

While Western Sydney regained that in the first of those games, the second saw Melbourne Heart fight back from two goals down to draw 3-3 with Adelaide United at AAMI Park, where the visitors got off to a flying start through Steven Lustica’s third minute opener.

Worse was to follow for the home team, as Sergio Cirio doubled Adelaide’s lead just sixteen minutes into the contest. Heart coach John Aloisi needed something bordering on divine intervention at this point, particularly given his seemingly precarious position following the club’s sluggish start.

Adelaide was unable to build on that lead before the interval, after which Melbourne were a team transformed. Andrea Migliorini’s long-range drive nine minutes into the second spell dragged them back into the contest, and when the Italian levelled matters twelve minutes later, the 6,002 fans present went nuts!

Five minutes later, their reaction, not to mention that of Aloisi, was off the scale, David Williams firing Heart in front from the penalty spot after referee Strebre Delovksi controversially ruled Tarek Elrich had handled the ball on receipt of a call from one of his assistants.

Now it was Adelaide’s turn to feel mounting pressure, but they responded superbly, Marcelo Carrusca’s deflected free-kick thirteen minutes from time setting up a finale in which both teams sought a dramatic winner, only to run out of time.

Next weekend’s action kicks off on Friday evening with a double-header. Adelaide welcome Brisbane to Coopers Stadium before Perth and Wellington renew their rivalry at NIB Stadium.

Two more games grace Saturday evening, with the clash of Central Coast and Sydney at Bluetongue Stadium followed by the Pirtek Stadium showdown between Western Sydney and Melbourne Heart. The latter’s cross-town rivals wrap up the ninth round of action on Sunday evening, with AAMI Park the venue for Melbourne Victory’s clash with Newcastle.

Match Details:
Brisbane Roar FC 1 (B. Berisha (57)) – Perth Glory FC 0; HT 0-0
Central Coast Mariners 0 – Melbourne Victory 0
Melbourne Heart FC 3 (A. Migliorini (54, 66), D. Williams (71 pen)) – Adelaide United 3 (S. Lustica (3), S. Cirio (16), M. Carrusca (77)); HT 0-2
Sydney FC 2 (J. Chianese (45), R. Despotovic (60)) – Newcastle Jets FC 0; HT 1-0
Wellington Phoenix FC 0 – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0

League table:
P W D L F A GD Pts
Brisbane Roar 8 6 0 2 15 5 +10 18
Western Sydney Wanderers 8 4 3 1 9 6 +3 15
Sydney FC 8 5 0 3 11 10 +1 15
Melbourne Victory 8 3 3 2 11 8 +3 12
Newcastle Jets 8 3 3 2 9 9 0 12
Central Coast Mariners 7 2 4 1 8 7 +1 10
Perth Glory 8 2 3 3 6 8 -2 9
Adelaide United 8 1 3 4 11 15 -4 6
Wellington Phoenix 7 0 4 3 6 9 -3 4
Melbourne Heart 8 0 3 5 6 15 -9 3

By Jeremy Ruane

National Youth League
Round 6 results:

Sydney FC 3 (Mitchell Mallia (2’, 45’), Alec Urosevski (5’)) – Melbourne Victory FC (2 Christopher Cristaldo (31’), Anthony Proia (68’))
AIS 0 – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 3 (Appiah 50 (pen), 56 (pen), Jake McGing 65)
Melbourne Heart FC 1 (Cartanos 90) – Adelaide United FC 4 (Melling 4, Milesunic 22 53, O’Doherty 86)
Brisbane Roar FC 2 (Theodore 50’, Borrello 64’) – Perth Glory FC 7 (Makeche 15’, 88’, O’Brien 33’, Cernak 41’, Zahra 65’, 86’, O’Neill 94’)

Womens National League
Round 3 results:

Adelaide United FC 3 (Tiarn Powell 26’, 33’, Alexandra Gummer 30’) – Newcastle Jets FC 1 (Jasmin Courteney 93’)
Perth Glory FC 1 (Christina Julien 84’) – Melbourne Victory FC 3 (Jessica Fishlock 24’, Caitlin Friend 32’, Lisa De Vanna 84’)
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (Catherine Cannuli 43’) – Brisbane Roar FC 4 (Katrina Gorry 49’, 81, 90,’ Hayley Raso 51’)

Canberra United v Sydney FC – postponed until 29 January 2014 – due to Sydney FC’s participation in the Women’s World Club Championship.