R13: Lower-ranked clubs on rise in play-offs race

Hyundai A-League – Season 2013/2014 – Round 13 Review
by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix scored vital away victories in the thirteenth round of Hyundai A-League action during the first week of January to revitalise their respective hopes of securing places in the end-of-season play-offs.

With the half-way round in the league just a week away, both simply had to collect three points on their travels in this latest round, and did so, with the Wellingtonians springing one of the shocks of the season so far in the process.

Ernie Merrick’s men came from behind to deservedly down second-placed Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1 before a scarcely believing 14,151-strong crowd at Pirtek Stadium, where the home team, last season’s Premiership phase winner, hadn’t been beaten for nigh on a year.

They rarely concede more than one goal a game, too, so when Mark Bridge wrapped up a superbly executed attack to break the deadlock just after the hour mark in what, to that point, had been a closely contested affair, another round of “1-0 to the Wanderers” looked to be the go for the Red and Black Brigade.

The home fans had already seen Shinji Ono hit the crossbar and Tomi Juric have a goal ruled out by the offside flag either side of the half-time whistle, but they weren’t expecting Wellington substitute Tyler Boyd to slide home an equaliser half-way through the second spell.

And they certainly weren’t anticipating a five-minute double-strike – the second a brilliant back-heeled effort – from Stein Huysegems inside the last twelve minutes to fire an under-strength visiting team to their third successive victory. Is this a case of the Phoenix rising again?

They remain in ninth place on the ladder, two places behind Perth, who nabbed a 1-0 win at Newcastle Jets thanks to Chris Harold’s 38th minute strike, as he benefited from a wayward Jacob Pepper back-pass.

Caretaker coach Kenny Lowe was pleased to clinch all three points in a match which saw the home team go close on several occasions, including as close as you can get to an equaliser at Hunter Stadium.

Emile Heskey headed the ball across goal for Kew Jaliens to stab home from close range nineteen minutes from time, only for the outstanding Danny Vukovic to somehow push the ball back into play.

The Newcastle defender was convinced the whole of the ball had crossed the line before the goalkeeper’s intervention, as were the vast majority of the 11,966-strong crowd, but referee Matt Gillett and his assistants were less convinced, and television replays proved inconclusive … cue another round of calls for goal-line technology …

Perth’s win saw them overtake Adelaide United on the table, after they were held to a 2-2 draw by ten-man Sydney FC at Coopers Stadium, where Ranko Despotovic gave the visitors the perfect start when netting a ninth minute opener.

The home team delighted the 15,347 fans present via a Fabio Ferreira equaliser in the 24th minute, but the odds remained against United, given they were forced to make two injury-enforced substitutions inside the opening half-hour.

Many in the crowd had turned up specifically to see Alessandro Del Piero gracing the City of Churches for the first time, and he didn’t disappoint, having a hand in the build-up which saw Nikola Petkovic hit the crossbar just before half-time, as Sydney looked to regain the lead.

They were dealt a blow in their quest for three points half-way through the second spell when Nick Carle was sent off for committing his second bookable offence, and when Jake Barker-Daish potted a penalty soon after to put Adelaide in front nineteen minutes from time, suddenly it was the visitors who found themselves up against it.

But the ten men fought back, Corey Gameiro heading home the equaliser with eight minutes to go to earn Sydney a share of the spoils.

Neither side could find a winner, however, with the point gained lifting the visitors above Newcastle on the standings.

In the game of the round, table-topping Brisbane Roar surged seven points clear at the top of the ladder by humbling ten-man Melbourne Victory 3-0 at AAMI Park, where Adrian Leijer committed his second bookable offence half-way through the second spell.

The damage had already been inflicted by Brisbane, however, Liam Miller’s strike just shy of the half-hour mark – a superb team goal – being bolstered by efforts from Matt McKay and Dimitri Petratos either side of the hour in a match which saw the home team enjoy the bulk of the early opportunities in front of 23,121 spectators.

Their respective defeats capped off a bad week for both Western Sydney and Melbourne Victory, both of whom were put on the strictest possible notice by Football Federation Australia following the irresponsible behaviour of a minority of both clubs’ “fans” during their Christmas round encounter.

Both clubs now face the prospect of losing three points if there is a repeat of any such transgressions over the course of the rest of the season – a hard-line stance which, it’s safe to say, has its advocates and opponents, as evidenced by the many and varied comments seen and heard on various football forums since the punishment was announced.

The final game of the round 8,026 saw reigning champions Central Coast Mariners move into the top three in unconvincing fashion, as they were held to a scoreless draw at Bluetongue Stadium by a Melbourne Heart side under new management.

John Van’t Schip took the reins at the bottom-placed club following the dismissal of John Aloisi, and guided them to a point in his first game in charge, one in which Michael Mifsud went closest to scoring when hitting the post for the visitors.

Next weekend sees the A-League reach the half-way mark for the 2013-14 campaign, with Newcastle and Perth entertaining the Melbourne teams on Friday evening. Victory head to Hunter Stadium, while NIB Stadium is Heart’s destination.

Saturday’s fare sees Brisbane welcoming Adelaide to Suncorp Stadium, while the Sydney derby takes place at Pirtek Stadium, while on Sunday evening, Wellington and Central Coast draw swords at Westpac Stadium.

Match details:

Adelaide United FC 2 (F. Ferreira (24), J. Barker-Daish (71 pen)) – Sydney FC 2 (R. Despotovic (9), C. Gameiro (82)); HT 1-1
Melbourne Victory FC 0 – Brisbane Roar FC 3 (L. Miller (28), M. McKay (56), D. Petratos (67)); HT 0-1
Newcastle Jets FC – Perth Glory FC 1 (C. Harold (38)); HT 0-1
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (M. Bridge (62)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 3 (T. Boyd (67), S. Huysegems (78, 83)); HT 0-0
Central Coast Mariners FC 0 – Melbourne Heart FC 0

Table:

P W D L F A GD Pts
Brisbane Roar 13 10 0 3 27 11 +16 30
Western Sydney Wanderers 13 6 5 2 15 11 +4 23
Central Coast Mariners 13 5 5 3 12 14 -2 20
Melbourne Victory 13 5 4 4 18 15 +3 19
Sydney FC 13 6 1 6 17 20 -3 19
Newcastle Jets 13 5 3 5 13 13 0 18
——————-
Perth Glory 13 4 4 5 12 14 -2 16
Adelaide United 13 3 5 5 19 19 0 14
Wellington Phoenix 13 3 4 6 14 17 -3 13
Melbourne Heart 13 0 5 8 9 22 -13 5

By Jeremy Ruane

National Youth League – Round 10

Adelaide United FC 3 (Konstandopoulos 21, Kamau 23, Gersbach 45og) – AIS 5 (Smith 14, 38, Marino 48, Ochieng 51, Antoniou 85)
Melbourne Heart FC 2 (Garrucio 13, Schroen 38) – Central Coast Mariners FC 0
Sydney FC 9 (Anthony Tomelic 14, Alex Urosevski 27, Mitch Mallia 27, 29, Terry McFlynn 42, Blake Powell 57, 62, 68, 72) – Perth Glory FC 2 (Jacob Collard 68, Josh Risdon 86)
Melbourne Victory FC 5 (Nabbout 29, 65, 90+1, Proia 67, Stella 70) – Brisbane Roar FC 2 (Murnane OG 18, Altundag 87)
Newcastle Jets FC 4 (Pavicevic 32, Oxborrow 72, Bradbery 76, 86) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 3 (Olsen 77, McGing 90, Symons 90+2)

Women’s National League – Round 7

Newcastle Jets FC 2 (Tara Andrews 74’ pen, Rhali Dobson 76’) – Brisbane Roar FC 6 (Vedrana Popovic 17’, Emily Gielnik 19’, 32’, Tameka Butt 51’, Clare Polkinghorne 62’ pen, Hayley Raso 91’)
Melbourne Victory FC 2 (Caitlin Friend 47’, Beatrice Goad 77’) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0
Sydney FC 8 (Caitlin Foord 13’, 64’, 91’, Leena Khamis 37’, Jodie Taylor 42’, Emma Kete 45+1’, Nicola Bolger 85’, Chloe Logarzo 90’) – Perth Glory FC 2 (Kate Gill 30’, Marianna Tabain 48’)
Adelaide United FC 2 (Lisa-Marie Woods 10’, Rachael Quigley 13’ pen) – Canberra United FC 0