R25 Review: You Couldn’t Write The Script!

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

Review

One point covering five teams with two rounds left; the leaders losing at home to the bottom-placed side; a title contender alleged to have breached the salary cap, and facing the prospect of missing out on the play-offs … not even one of Hollywood’s finest script writers could have come up with this situation for the Hyundai A-League.

But after twenty-five rounds of action, that’s the lie of the land in Australasia’s lone professional football league, with Melbourne Victory, Perth Glory and Sydney FC on 44 points, one ahead of both Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix in the race for the Premiers’ Plate.

Perth may have done their dash, however, if Football Federation Australia’s decision to exclude the Western Australians from the play-offs series is sustained following the appeal process which was inevitable after a Friday afternoon announcement claiming that Perth Glory had failed to disclose certain payments in each of the last three seasons, including this one.

Needless to say, Perth vehemently deny the allegations, and will press their case via an appeal through the appropriate channels. If they fail to disprove the allegations brought by the FFA, the club faces a $A269,000 fine, and demotion to seventh place, i.e. outside the play-off spots, in this season’s competition.

The shock arising from these allegations set the tone for the weekend, with Perth, unsurprisingly given the circumstances, on the wrong end of a 3-0 battering at NIB Stadium from a Sydney side which leap-frogged their embattled rivals on the table on goal difference thanks to this win.

The visitors maintained their remarkable unbeaten run on the road thanks to two goals in five minutes just after the hour mark from Bernie Ibini-Isei – a cracking strike – and Alex Brosque, who had opened the scoring ten minutes before half-time.

Perth were denied what looked a perfectly good equaliser sixty seconds later when Jamie MacLaren was harshly adjudged to have fallen foul of the offside trap as he curled home a delightful strike which briefly gave the 7,426 fans present something to shout about on a dark day in their club’s history.

Earlier on Friday evening, Melbourne Victory took on bottom-placed Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park, and found themselves on the wrong end of the season’s shock scoreline – the visitors prevailed 1-0, Edson Montano silencing the 19,277 present with a 54th minute goal to which an out-of-sorts Melbourne could find no answer.

Twenty-four hours later, Adelaide’s hopes of taking the outright lead at the end of the round were dashed by reigning champions Brisbane Roar, who prevailed 3-2 in front of 10,659 fans at Coopers Stadium.

Andrija Kaluderovic continued his good form in front of goal when opening the scoring for the visitors in the 26th minute, but United squandered a glorious chance to level the scores eight minutes later, Bruce Djite hitting the post before Craig Goodwin steered the rebound wide when scoring appeared the easier option.

They were punished for their profligacy four minutes before half-time via an unlikely and usually highly reliable source, goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic slicing an attempted clearance into his own net to give Brisbane a two-goal lead.

Jack Hingert made it three nine minutes into the second spell, taking advantage of another wayward Galekovic clearance, before Adelaide mounted a stirring fightback. Goodwin finally found the net nineteen minutes from time, but Pablo Sanchez’s stoppage time penalty proved to be too little, too late for the home team.

So to Wellington Phoenix attention turned on Sunday evening – could they win to take the outright lead once again? They certainly had the chance to fifteen minutes into their clash with Melbourne City at AAMI Park, but Nathan Burns struck the worst penalty of his career to gift Tando Velaphi a save in front of 6,720 fans.

In a match laden with chances, none hit the net, the vast majority of City’s attempts being thwarted by Wellington ‘keeper Glen Moss, who was finally beaten in stoppage time, only for the crossbar to come to his rescue as Erik Paartalu’s header clipped the woodwork to ensure a highly entertaining encounter finished 0-0.

In the only game of the round which didn’t have any impact on the play-off placings, Central Coast Mariners edged Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 at Central Coast Stadium, where 9,548 fans converged to bid a fond farewell to John Hutchinson and Matt Simon, who were playing their final match on home turf for the Gosford outfit.

They saw Joshua Rose open and close the scoring in the second minute of a match which boasted chances galore, the pick of them being Iacopa La Rocca’s early headed chance for Wests, one he directed over an open goal from four yards.

Brisbane won’t need any persuading to attempt to deny Melbourne Victory the chance of taking the outright lead when they meet at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday evening in a rescheduled fixture, three days before they clash again at the same venue in their 26th round encounter.

Wellington kick off the round on Friday evening when entertaining Central Coast at Westpac Stadium, while Newcastle and Sydney meet later that night at Hunter Stadium.

Western Sydney welcome Adelaide to Pirtek Stadium prior to Brisbane’s game on Saturday night, while on Sunday evening, Perth take on Melbourne City at NIB Stadium.

Match details:

Adelaide United FC 2 (C. Goodwin (71), P. Sanchez (90 pen)) – Brisbane Roar FC 3 (A. Kaluderovic (26), “oggie” (41), J. Hingert (54)); HT 0-2

Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (J. Rose (2)) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0; HT 1-0

Melbourne City FC 0 – Wellington Phoenix FC 0

Melbourne Victory FC 0 – Newcastle United Jets FC 1 (E. Montano (54)); HT 0-1

Perth Glory FC 0 – Sydney FC 3 (A. Brosque (35, 65), B. Ibini-Isei (60)); HT 0-1

Ladder

P    W    D    L    F    A    GD    Pts

Melbourne Victory    24    12    8    4    50    29    +21    44

Sydney FC        25    12    8    5    46    31    +15    44

Perth Glory        25    12    8    5    40    33    +7    44

Adelaide United    25    13    4    8    42    29    +13    43

Wellington Phoenix    25    13    4    8    41    31    +10    43

Melbourne City        25    9    8    8    34    34    0    35

Brisbane Roar        24    9    4    11    39    39    0    31

Central Coast        25    5    8    12    23    44    -21    23

Newcastle Jets        25    3    8    14    19    49    -30    17

Western Sydney    25    3    6    16    26    41    -15    15