R23: Three draws in Round leave Brisbane on verge

by Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

Hyundai A-League – Season 2013/2014 – Round 23 Review

Three draws in Round leave Brisbane on verge taking out the Hyundai A-League’s minor premiership after twenty-third round action in the competition produced three draws, an indication of the tightness of the race for the play-offs.

Four of the top five teams drew, with Sydney FC holding Brisbane to a 1-1 draw at Allianz Stadium in front of 13,073 fans, who saw the visitors take the lead through Besart Berisha in the 23rd minute.

Sydney deservedly levelled matters through Sebastian Ryall twelve minutes later, soon after which the goalscorers clashed, Berisha forced to leave the fray with tail twixt legs having been sent off for his wild challenge on Ryall.

This handed Sydney the numerical advantage, but it was the Thomas Broich-inspired ten men who looked the more likely winners, Henrique and Luke Brattan forcing Vedran Janjetovic to produce a couple of fine saves late in the encounter to ensure the hosts enjoyed a share of the spoils come the final whistle.

Twenty-four hours later, monsoon-like conditions delayed the start of Western Sydney Wanderers’ clash with Adelaide United at Pirtek Stadium, and the 11,892 fans who braved the elements witnessed a game largely bereft of scoring chances – 0-0 the outcome.
Melbourne Victory bucked the trend by winning 2-1 at Perth Glory, Archie Thompson’s stoppage time winner almost certainly ending the NIB Stadium side’s play-off prospects for this season, this their ninth successive match without a win.

Mark Milligan put through his own net just before the half-hour mark, but had Melbourne back on level terms from the penalty spot before half-time in a match which saw Perth’s Danny De Silva knocked out by a wayward shot as the teams warmed up – he took no part in proceedings.

Reigning champions Central Coast Mariners also enjoyed the spotlight in the winner’s circle this week, taking out the F3 derby with a 3-1 win over Newcastle Jets in front of 7,455 fans at Bluetongue Stadium.

The home team were on easy street after just six minutes of the match, during which Eddy Bosnar – after just 41 seconds – and Bernie Ibini-Isei scored goal which left Newcastle with a mountain to climb.

With new signing David Carney driving them on, the visitors duly forced their way back into the contest, Joel Griffiths halving the deficit half-way through the first half. But the bumbling Mark Birighitti – his attempt to keep out Bosnar’s free-kick struck from near half-way were frankly awful – handed the home team the points in the dying minutes, Glen Trifiro the beneficiary of the ‘keeper’s capers.

The final game of the round was an absolute humdinger, with Melbourne Heart and Wellington Phoenix having to settle for a 2-2 draw in front of 5,614 fans at AAMI Park when both teams would have far rather claimed the three points.

Referee Ben Williams was, not for the first time in his officiating career, the centre of controversy throughout proceedings, with a number of his decisions impacting on the outcome.

Roy Krishna opened the scoring for Wellington just six minutes into the match, and after Jonatan Germano had been denied a goal by the offside flag, he eventually got on the scoresheet on the half-hour, Mate Dugandzic’s piledriver ricocheting off Germano into the net.

Wellington’s Ben Sigmund was controversially sent off soon afterwards, before a string of Andrew Redmayne saves ensured Melbourne went to the dressing rooms on level terms.

Eleven minutes into the second spell, they fell behind again, Tyler Boyd punishing a Redmayne blunder to give Wellington a lead they enjoyed for just six minutes. David Williams, who later had a goal disallowed in controversial circumstances, belted home a penalty after his refereeing namesake made another call of dubious nature.

Both teams strove for a winner, with Wellington being denied penalties in each half of the match as the referee – rather than the players – became the centre of attention for his inconsistent decision-making. 2-2 was the outcome, however, one which leaves Melbourne Heart’s play-off prospects hanging by a thread.

Brisbane can clinch the minor premiership at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday evening when hosting Melbourne Victory, twenty-four hours after Adelaide and Sydney lock horns at Coopers Stadium.

Newcastle and Wellington clash in a crucial encounter for both teams at Hunter Stadium on Saturday evening, while Sunday’s fare sees the play-off prospects of the bottom two teams well and truly on the line. Perth head to Pirtek Stadium to take on Western Sydney after Melbourne Heart welcome Central Coast to AAMI Park.

Match details:

Central Coast Mariners FC 3 (E. Bosnar (1), B. Ibini-Isei (6), G. Trifiro (89)) – Newcastle Jets FC 1 (J. Griffiths (23)); HT 2-1

Melbourne Heart FC 2 (J. Germano (29), D. Williams (62 pen)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (R. Krishna (6), T. Boyd (56)); HT 1-1

Perth Glory FC 1 (“oggie” (27)) – Melbourne Victory FC 2 (M. Milligan (39 pen), A. Thompson (90)); HT 1-1

Sydney FC 1 (S. Ryall (35)) – Brisbane Roar FC 1 (B. Berisha (23)) HT 1-1

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0 – Adelaide United FC 0

League table:

P W D L F A GD Pts

Brisbane Roar 23 14 3 6 39 21 +18 45

Melbourne Victory 23 10 6 7 35 38 -3 36

Western Sydney Wanderers 23 9 8 6 26 24 +2 35

Central Coast Mariners 23 9 6 8 26 31 -5 33

Sydney FC 23 10 2 11 32 32 0 32

Adelaide United 23 8 7 8 39 31 +8 31

Newcastle Jets 23 8 5 10 24 30 -6 29

Wellington Phoenix 23 7 7 9 34 37 -3 28

Melbourne Heart 23 6 7 10 30 33 -3 25

Perth Glory 23 5 7 11 22 30 -8 22

By Jeremy Ruane