R21 Review: Kiwi team showing the way In Australia

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

Review

The natives will be restless at the sight of Australia’s Hyundai A-League being led by a New Zealand team, but Wellington Phoenix occupy the top rung of the ladder on merit after twenty-one rounds of action, usurping Perth Glory at the top of the table by overcoming them 2-1 on a humid Saturday evening at the NIB Stadium.

9,178 fans saw a fast-paced affair unfold, the deadlock of which was broken half-way through the first half by Roy Krishna, off whom Josh Risdon’s attempted clearance ricocheted into the net to give Wellington the lead in bizarre circumstances.

There was nothing bizarre about Perth’s equaliser six minutes later. Ruben Zadkovich was in full flight when he strode onto Dragan Paljic’s pass and unleashed an absolute screamer from thirty yards which flew past Glen Moss and crashed into the net via the post.

While the visitors enjoyed the better of the first half exchanges, Perth savoured that privilege in the second spell, and were only prevented from taking the lead thirteen minutes from time by Moss’ solid save at his near post to deny Andy Keogh.

Within sixty seconds, Wellington had regained the lead, Roy Krishna turning Scott Jamieson hither and yon before beating Danny Vukovic at his near post to clinch the points for the Wellingtonians, a victory which allowed them to savour the view from the top of the podium for the first time in their history.

On Thursday evening, Adelaide United came from behind to down Central Coast Mariners 2-1 at Coopers Stadium, where Anthony Caceres gave the visitors a deserved lead half-way through the first half with a twenty-five yarder.

Central Coast’s joy was short-lived, with Marcelo Carrusca levelling the scores just two minutes later. That proved the catalyst for Adelaide to turn things around, and half-way through the second spell, Craig Goodwin clinched the points for the home team, to the delight of the 7,767 fans present.

That win came twenty-four hours after Western Sydney Wanderers had climbed off the bottom of the table with a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Melbourne City in front of 7,239 jubilant fans at Pirtek Stadium, where kick-off was delayed by an hour due to stormy weather.

Half-an-hour after play got under way, Safuwan Baharudin gave City the lead on merit, after Patrick Kisnorbo’s header had been blocked on the line. But Wanderers wasted little time in restoring parity, Mateo Poljak levelling the scores seven minutes before half-time.

After a couple of fine saves by Tando Velaphi had prevented the home team from breaking the deadlock, Aaron Mooy did so in style for City with a stunning free-kick nineteen minutes from time.

But Wests were back on terms seven minutes later via Tomi Juric’s penalty, awarded after Connor Chapman had impeded the striker in the area. Soon afterwards, the City defender copped a straight red card after manhandling referee Strebre Delovski – it’s fair to say he can expect a lengthy suspension for this misdemeanour.

Having the numerical advantage tipped the game Western Sydney’s way, and in stoppage time, they exploited the extra space through Nikita Rukavytsya, whose angled volley on the far post delighted the natives and clinched Wanderers’ first home win in the league this season.

Forty-eight hours later, they were at it again, this time against Melbourne Victory at Pirtek Stadium. And a tiring Wests were downed 3-0 by the visitors, who took the overnight lead in the league as a result, leaving the top five covered by just two points.

Fahid Ben Khalfallah was the star turn for Melbourne, setting up all three goals, the first of which was tucked home by Besart Berisha in the 27th minute very much against the run of play.

Wests continued to enjoy the better of the exchanges into the second half, but when Archie Thompson doubled Melbourne’s lead just after the hour mark, it took the wind from Western Sydney’s sails, and it was no surprise to see Berisha seal victory eight minutes from time.

Only 5,867 fans took the trouble to see Melbourne City thump Newcastle Jets 4-0 at AAMI Park, where Kew Jaliens scored against his old club just eighteen minutes into the contest.

Fellow new recruit Harry Novillo struck a deserved second just after half-time, while further goals from David Williams – just after the hour mark – and Iain Ramsay, with two minutes left, rounded out the rout of a visiting side which barely fired a shot in anger.

The final game of the round was an absolute stunner, a nine-goal thriller which saw Sydney FC come from behind to beat reigning champions Brisbane Roar 5-4 in torrential conditions at the Allianz Stadium.

The 13,818 who braved the elements got their money’s worth and then some from a barnstorming encounter which saw both teams scoring inside the opening seven minutes – Henrique’s fifth minute strike for Brisbane matched by Matt Jurman’s leveller two minutes later.

Jean Carlos Solorzano missed a sitter from six yards for the visitors soon after, but Sydney’s Marc Janko showed him how it’s done from the penalty spot seven minutes before half-time to set a record – this was the seventh successive match in which the league’s leading marksman had found the net.

A splendid goal-line clearance by Jurman five minutes after the break denied Brisbane’s former Sydney striker Dimitri Petratos the equaliser, a miss which he was to rue as, two minutes later, Janko netted his second of the night at the other end of the park.

Chances galore ensued at both ends, but there were no further changes to the scoreline until the final fifteen minutes brought about an avalanche of goals, the first of which saw Janko complete his hat-trick from the penalty spot to give Sydney a 4-1 lead.

Back came Brisbane, substitutes Andrija Kaluderovic and Stephen Lustica striking inside the next nine minutes to reduce the deficit to one goal and set up a grandstand finish.

Alex Brosque responded for Sydney to make it 5-3, but still Brisbane pressed, and were rewarded by a Petratos goal in stoppage time. They couldn’t muster a dramatic equaliser in the seconds remaining, meaning the victors are now in second place, and the top five teams are covered by just three points in the most enthralling pursuit of the Premiers’ Plate in the ten-year history of the Hyundai A-League.

The madness resumes on Friday evening when Sydney entertain Melbourne City at Allianz Stadium. Saturday’s fare sees the battle for the wooden spoon take place at Pirtek Stadium as Western Sydney and Newcastle lock horns.

That’s followed by a belter of a game in prospect at Coopers Stadium, as Adelaide host Melbourne Victory. Then on Sunday, Central Coast and Perth square off at Central Coast Stadium before Brisbane host the league leaders at Suncorp Stadium, a venue where Wellington have yet to collect three points.

Match details:

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 3 (M. Poljak (38), T. Juric (78 pen), N. Rukavytsya (90)) – Melbourne City 2 (S. Baharudin (28), A. Mooy (71)); HT 1-1

Adelaide United FC 2 (M. Carrusca (25), C. Goodwin (67)) – Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (A. Caceres (23)); HT 1-1

Melbourne City FC 4 (K. Jaliens (18), H. Novillo (47), D. Williams (63), I. Ramsay (88)) – Newcastle United Jets FC 0; HT 1-0

Perth Glory FC 1 (R. Zadkovich (29)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (R. Krishna (23, 78)); HT 1-2

Sydney FC 5 (M. Jurman (7), M. Janko (38 pen, 52, 75 pen), A. Brosque (88)) – Brisbane Roar FC 4 (Henrique (5), A. Kaluderovic (80), S. Lustica (84), D. Petratos (90)); HT 2-1

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0 – Melbourne Victory 3 (B. Berisha (27, 82), A. Thompson (62)); HT 0-1

Ladder

P    W    D    L    F    A    GD    Pts

Wellington Phoenix    21    12    3    6    39    24    +15    39

Sydney FC    21    10    8    3    40    29    +11    38

Melbourne Victory    20    10    7    3    43    25    +18    37

Perth Glory    21    10    7    4    34    27    +7    37

Adelaide United    21    11    3    7    36    24    +12    36

Melbourne City    21    7    6    8    31    33    -2    27

Brisbane Roar    19    7    4    8    28    29    -1    25

Central Coast    21    4    7    10    19    35    -16    19

Western Sydney    20    2    5    13    18    33    -15    11

Newcastle Jets    21    1    8    12    16    45    -29    11