Review R12: Title-chasing trio close on League leaders

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

 

Review

The three teams line astern of Hyundai A-League leaders Perth Glory all took the chance to close the gap on the league leaders on the final weekend in December, after

Melbourne City held the table-toppers to a 1-1 draw on Boxing Day.

An uninspiring first half was quickly forgotten once Aaron Mooy fired City in front three minutes into the second spell, but Perth were back on level terms just after the hour mark, courtesy Richard Garcia.

The league leaders were denied all three points by the efforts of City ‘keeper Tando Velaphi, who thwarted both Dino Djulbic and Andy Keogh in a second half which was greatly enjoyed by the 9,550 fans present at AAMI Park, certainly when compared with the first!

Later that evening, Adelaide swept Sydney FC aside at Allianz Stadium, their 3-0 win coming about through goals in the final quarter of a match watched by 14,214 fans, many of whom had left the ground long before the final whistle as the home team’s woes continued.

Both teams entered the contest on winless streaks, with United having lost their last two and Sydney without a win in three. And it was the home team whose record was to worsen, despite dominating the first half.

Adelaide stepped things up in the second spell, and once Bruce Djite gave them the lead in the 67th minute, there was only going to be one winner, as goals in the last ten minutes from Pablo Sanchez and Awer Mabil confirmed.

Twenty-four hours later, Melbourne Victory also closed the gap on Perth by edging Newcastle Jets 1-0 at AAMI Park, courtesy a sublime Guilherme Finkler free-kick five minutes from time.

It was due reward for a dominant display by the second-placed team, who carved out a host of chances but only took the one, although Fahid Ben Khalfallah’s performance alone deserved a goal – he deserved better fate than to see one of his shots the crossbar in the second spell.

Wellington Phoenix consolidated their position in the top four at Westpac Stadium on Sunday evening, but their 1-0 victory over Asian champions Western Sydney Wanderers can best be described as fortuitous.

The visitors were the better team for the majority of the match, but despite peppering Glen Moss’ goal with crosses and shots, couldn’t peg back Roy Krishna’s fourteenth minute strike, to the delight of the 8,606 fans present.

The Fijian followed in to fire home past Ante Covic, who parried the striker’s penalty after Krishna had been caught by Daniel Alessi just inside the area and had gone to ground rather easily. Referee Peter O’Leary was convinced, however, and that proved to be the game’s most decisive moment.

The game of the round took place at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday evening, with Central Coast Mariners and Brisbane Roar both enjoying the lead before settling for a thrilling 3-3 draw in which five of the goals came in a riveting second spell.

Jean Carlos Solorzano’s goal on the stroke of half-time was a rare highlight in a dour first half, but the title-holders weren’t complaining, as it gave them the advantage at the interval over a team which hadn’t scored at home in over 400 minutes.

Eddy Bosnar ended that unwelcome drought eleven minutes into the second half, and within minutes another bus arrived, driven by Matt Simon, who found the net after Brisbane ‘keeper Jamie Young had pulled off an outstanding double save to keep the home team at bay.

While the 9,932 fans delighted in finally seeing the home team in front again on home turf, their joy was short-lived, James Donachie’s deflected header, from a corner, bringing Brisbane back on level terms nineteen minutes from time.

Central Coast’s instant reaction was to introduce Kim Seung-Yong from the bench, and the substitute made the desired impact ten minutes from time, restoring his team’s lead.

But while Central Coast were still celebrating, Brisbane buccaneered down the other end of the park and levelled the scores once more, Solorzano’s second strike of the game securing a point from a roller-coaster 3-3 thriller.

Thirteenth round action commences on Tuesday evening, with Newcastle and Melbourne City meeting at Hunter Stadium prior to the clash of Brisbane and Sydney at Suncorp Stadium.

Twenty-four hours later, Adelaide and Wellington meet at Coopers Stadium in the final A-League fixture for 2014, while 2015 kicks off with Western Sydney meeting Central Coast at Pirtek Stadium before Melbourne Victory take on Perth at Simonds Stadium in Geelong.

As this is the final round review for 2014, I’ll take this opportunity to wish readers a Happy New Year, and all the best for a prosperous 2015.

Match details:

Central Coast Mariners FC 3 (E. Bosnar (56), M. Simon (63), K. Seung-Yong (80)) – Brisbane Roar FC 3 (J. Solorzano (45, 81), J. Donachie (71)); HT 0-1

Melbourne City FC 1 (A. Mooy (48)) – Perth Glory FC 1 (R. Garcia (62)); HT 0-0

Melbourne Victory FC 1 (G. Finkler (85)) – Newcastle Jets FC 0; HT 0-0

Sydney FC 0 – Adelaide United FC 3 (B. Djite (67), P. Sanchez (81), A. Mabil (90)); HT 0-0

Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (R. Krishna (14)) – Western Sydney Wanderers GC 0; HT 1-0

Table

P    W    D    L    F    A    GD    Pts

Perth Glory    12    9    2    1    22    12    +10    29

Melbourne Victory    12    7    4    1    25    12    +13    25

Adelaide United    12    7    2    3    19    10    +9    23

Wellington Phoenix    12    7    1    4    22    13    +9    22

Sydney FC    12    4    5    3    15    15    0    17

Melbourne City    11    3    4    4    15    20    -5    13

Brisbane Roar    11    3    2    6    14    16    -2    11

Central Coast    12    1    5    6    10    21    -11    8

Newcastle Jets    12    1    4    7    10    23    -13    7

Western Sydney    10    0    3    7    6    16    -10    3