R1 Review: Champions held scoreless as A-League kicks off

by Jeremy Ruane:
Hyundai A-League – Season 11 – 2015/2016 – Round 1 Review
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

The annual pursuit of Hyundai A-League glory kicked off for the 2015-16 season on the second weekend in October, with fourteen goals, a couple of dismissals and two drawn fixtures among the talking points following the first round’s conclusion.

Reigning champions Melbourne Victory were held to a scoreless draw at Adelaide United on Friday, but the 19,079 fans present at Coopers Stadium could well have seen the title-holders head home with the chocolates had All Whites speedster Costa Barbarouses not been denied by both the offside flag and the post in his efforts to break the deadlock.

Leigh Broxham was sent off for the visitors late in the piece, and United nearly capitalised on their numerical superiority in the dying minutes, Sergio Cirio squandering the chance to win it for Adelaide, whose defenders did a fine job on a number of occasions to deny Besart Berisha and company.

Twenty-four hours earlier, Brisbane Roar kicked off the competition by prevailing 3-1 at outgoing Asian Champions League title-holders Western Sydney Wanderers, for whom Mitch Nichols scored against his old club four minutes after new Brisbane signing Jamie MacLaren had the pleasure of scoring the first goal of the season, the home team gift-wrapping it for him via a dreadful defensive mix-up.

MacLaren supplemented that ninth minute effort twenty-five minutes later to complete the scoring in the opening game, Daniel Bowles having scored in between times on a night Nichols was controversially denied a second goal by the match officials, who ruled he had handled the ball, much to the ire of the majority of the 14,122 fans present at Pirtek Stadium.

Central Coast Mariners edged Perth Glory by the odd goal in five in front of x fans at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday evening, new signing Roy O’Donovan getting the home team off to a flying start in the ninth minute, despite knowing very little about it – the ball ricocheted in off the striker after Ante Covic had parried Fabio Ferreira’s shot into the path of the A-League newcomer.

Richard Garcia’s fifteen yard stooping header brought Perth level half-way through the first half, but parity was as good as it got for the visitors, for whom Gyorgy Sandor struck a stoppage time consolation goal after Ferreira twice potted from the penalty spot in a nine-minute spell around the hour mark to make the game safe for Central Coast.

Later that evening at the Allianz Stadium, 17,051 fans saw plenty of yellow cards dished out as Sydney FC came from behind to draw 1-1 with Melbourne City, for whom Wade Dekker opened the scoring on the quarter hour.

Filip Holosko restored parity on the stroke of half-time for Sydney, who were unable to find a way past City ‘keeper Thomas Sorensen for a second time during a keenly contested second spell.

The opening round concluded on Sunday evening at Westpac Stadium, where ten-man Newcastle Jets survived the late dismissal of Nigel Boogaard to see off Wellington Phoenix 2-1, much to the disappointment of the 6,255 fans present in New Zealand’s capital.

It is nigh on nine years since David Carney last scored in the competition, but he it was who opened the scoring for the visitors on the half-hour in this encounter, only for Roly Bonevacia to restore parity with virtually the last kick of the half, deep in first half stoppage time.

The second spell was just two minutes old when Wellington were awarded a penalty by referee Shaun Evans, who brandished the yellow card seven times in the second spell, having kept his cards in his pocket during the first half.

Roy Krishna’s spot-kick was splendidly saved by Mark Birighitti, however, a denial which gave Newcastle renewed hope, which they turned into a goal twenty minutes from time, Milos Trifunovic regaining the lead for the visitors.

Wellington piled on the pressure, particularly after Boogaard committed his second bookable offence of the match thirteen minutes from time, but try as they might, they could not snatch a second equaliser, meaning last season’s cellar-dwellers are one of three teams to record victories in the opening round of the 2015-16 campaign.

Round Two action kicks off on Friday evening with Adelaide welcoming Western Sydney to Pirtek Stadium, while twenty-four hours later, Newcastle and Sydney meet at Hunter Stadium prior to the Melbourne derby at Etihad Stadium.

Sunday’s fare sees Brisbane and Central Coast squaring off at Suncorp Stadium before Wellington seek to return home with three points, having made the long trek west to take on Perth at NIB Stadium.

Details:

Adelaide United FC 0 –  Melbourne Victory FC 0

Central Coast Mariners FC 3 (R. O’Donovan (9), F. Ferreira (58 pen, 67 pen)) – Perth Glory FC 2 (R. Garcia (23), G. Sandor (90)); HT 1-1

Sydney FC 1 (F. Holosko (45)) – Melbourne City FC 1 (W. Dekker (16)); HT 1-1

Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (R. Bonevacia (45)) – Newcastle Jets FC 2 (D. Carney (30), M. Trifunovic (70)); HT 1-1

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (M. Nichols (13)) – Brisbane Roar FC 3 (J. MacLaren (9, 34), D. Bowles (23)); HT 1-3