R13 Review: Perth and Wellington win top four battles

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


Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix were the big winners in the battles between the top four teams in the Hyundai A-League during the New Year round of action, with the league leaders extending their advantage to seven points after edging second-placed Melbourne Victory 2-1 in Geelong.

21,289 took advantage of the rare opportunity to see A-League football in Victoria’s second city, and they saw Perth get off to a flying start, with Andy Keogh and Chris Harold both finding the net in the first sixteen minutes.

It left Melbourne with a mountain to climb, and while their efforts to scale it were numerous, they only managed to convert one of them, Besart Berisha potting a penalty just before the hour mark following an incident in which Perth fullback Scott Jamieson was fortunate to remain on the park.

Wellington left folk in no doubt that they are title contenders this season by seeing off Adelaide United 3-1 at Coopers Stadium, where 10,060 fans saw the home team’s efforts founder on the rock-solid defensive display of Andrew Durante and Ben Sigmund.

The home team hit the post in the first half through Awer Mabil, and again early in the second spell when Wellington defender Louis Fenton inadvertently headed the ball against his own upright.

Ten minutes into the second spell, the visitors opened the scoring against the run of play through Kenny Cunningham, an advantage they retained until the 73rd minute, when Sergio Cirio tapped in the equaliser on the far post.

Four minutes later, Wellington substitute Tyler Boyd restored their advantage, and twenty-four hours after turning twenty, sealed the points for the travelling team in stoppage time to propel Wellington past Adelaide on the table, where they now find themselves level on points with Melbourne.

Reigning champions Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC ground out a scoreless draw in oppressive conditions at Suncorp Stadium, where the poor nature of the playing surface contributed little to a contest generally bereft of scoring chances, much to the disappointment of the 15,765-strong crowd.

That scoreline was repeated at Pirtek Stadium, where the clash between Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners gained more notoriety for a bizarre post-match clash between Ante Covic, Shannon Cole and some of the 14,137 fans present, rather than for any football which took place over the preceding ninety minutes.

Melbourne City, meanwhile, handed Newcastle Jets a 5-2 trouncing at Hunter Stadium, where 9,935 fans saw Robert Koren net a hat-trick for the visitors, who were two goals to the good inside the first ten minutes.

Aaron Mooy’s fourth minute penalty preceded the first goal of Koren’s treble, and when Damien Duff netted a third for Melbourne in the 24th minute, the game was over as a contest, something the Newcastle fans weren’t slow to let their charges know once the half-time whistle had sounded.

The home team offered more resistance in the second spell, and forced Tando Velaphi to produce a few saves of note, but once Koren netted City’s fourth just after the hour mark, there was no way back for Newcastle.

Goals from Edson Montano and Jeronimo Neumann reduced the deficit in the final twenty minutes, but sandwiched in between them was Koren’s hat-trick strike, a goal which ensured the visitors’ recent good run of form continued, to the point where they are now just two points behind Sydney – not something which looked likely a month ago.

The final round of action before the competition takes a break for the Asian Cup kicks off on Saturday, with Sydney and Newcastle meeting at WIN Stadium. Two matches on Sunday evening see Wellington and Brisbane locking horns at Westpac Stadium, while Central Coast and Melbourne City meet at Central Coast Stadium.

Perth and Adelaide meet in a Monday night thriller at NIB Stadium, while the final game before the break sees Western Sydney and Melbourne Victory squaring off at Pirtek Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Match details R13:

Adelaide United FC 1 (S. Cirio (73)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 3 (K. Cunningham (55), T. Boyd (77, 90)); HT 0-0

Brisbane Roar 0 – Sydney FC 0

Melbourne Victory FC 1 (B. Berisha (58 pen)) – Perth Glory FC 2 (A. Keogh (9), C. Harold (16)) ; HT 0-2

Newcastle Jets FC 2 (E. Montano (71), J. Neumann (79)) – Melbourne City FC 5 (A. Mooy (4 pen), R. Koren (9, 63, 74), D. Duff (24)); HT 0-3

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0 – Central Coast Mariners FC 0

Table – to Round 13

P    W    D    L    F    A    GD    Pts

Perth Glory        13    10    2    1    24    13    +11    32

Melbourne Victory    13    7    4    2    26    14    +12    25

Wellington Phoenix    13    8    1    4    25    14    +11    25

Adelaide United    13    7    2    4    20    13    +7    23

Sydney FC        13    4    6    3    15    15    0    18

Melbourne City        12    4    4    4    20    22    -2    16

Brisbane Roar        12    3    3    6    14    16    -2    12

Central Coast        13    1    6    6    10    21    -11    9

Newcastle Jets        13    1    4    8    12    28    -16    7

Western Sydney    11    0    4    7    6    16    -10    4