R4 Review: Off-field antics overshadow A-League action

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

HAL review

The off-field antics of Football Federation Australia (FFA) have been the talk of the Hyundai A-League this week, with the game’s governing body giving Wellington Phoenix a ‘take it or leave’ ultimatum of a four-year licence, in response to requests by the Kiwi club for a minimum ten year extension of their existing permit.

Citing various “metrics” upon which they consider Wellington fall short, the FFA then proceeded to lambast Sydney FC’s chairman and manager in light of comments they made in the fall-out arising from their uncompromising stance regarding one of the league’s better-run clubs.

As far as the FFA is concerned, the presence of a New Zealand-based club in the A-League has served its purpose, and now that the competition is well-established, the trans-tasman element of the league is no longer required in their eyes.

That understandably hasn’t gone down at all well in New Zealand, given the loss of the country’s only professional club will almost certainly have major adverse repercussions right across the code, particularly in the men’s game.

Nor have the owners of the other A-League clubs taken kindly to the situation, their thinking being along the lines of, “If the FFA can do this to a well-run club like Wellington, what’s to stop them doing the same to us somewhere down the line?”

All in all, a rather unpleasant situation, with the potential for ramifications aplenty should the powers that be ignore common sense and what’s best for the greater good of football in favour of an agenda which is driven more by passing trends, thus lacks the necessary vision to grow the league and, with it, the game.

On the park, the performance of the round was produced by Newcastle Jets, who found themselves two goals down after just twenty-two minutes in front of 7,209 fans at AAMI Park, but bounced back to overhaul Melbourne City 3-2 with three second half goals.

City were 2-0 up and bossing it thanks to Aaron Mooy and Stefan Mauk, so much so that the half-time score flattered Newcastle. When Ben Kantarovski headed the visitors back into the match just shy of the hour mark, it seemed likely to be a goal of consolatory value only.

But two goals in five minutes – the first of them a penalty – inside the final quarter hour from Milos Trifunovic turned the game on its head, and from being in total command, City found themselves trailing, and unable to recover the deficit as the victors took the overnight lead in the competition.

The Novocastrians’ time at the top was brief, however, with Sydney FC finishing over the top of Central Coast Mariners 3-1 at Central Coast Stadium twenty-four hours later to return to the top rung on the ladder.

Substitute Matt Simon returned to torment his old club, scoring twice in the last ten minutes to steer Sydney to victory, disappointing many in the 10,030-strong crowd who were hoping the Mariners’ most prolific marksman wouldn’t put his former employers to the sword.

Shane Smeltz’s 34th minute opener for Sydney was cancelled out within sixty seconds by Roy O’Donovan, but while the home team retained parity on the scoreboard until late in the match, their numbers reduced to ten just before half-time when Nick Fitzgerald committed his second bookable offence.

Over the border at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Roar bossed Adelaide United 3-0 to remain line astern of Sydney, Brandon Borrello giving the home team the ideal start after just nine minutes, then adding the icing on the cake in stoppage time.

In between times, the 10,707 fans present saw Sergio Cirio go close to equalising for the visitors, before Jamie MacLaren made the game safe for Brisbane twelve minutes from time to leave Adelaide with the unwelcome record of being the only team yet to collect three points from a game this season.

That’s because Western Sydney Wanderers climbed off the bottom of the table twenty-four hours later, Dario Vidosic’s goal on the stroke of half-time at Pirtek Stadium proving suffice to see off Perth Glory 1-0, to the delight of the 14,194 fans present.

Perth’s opponents in Saturday’s FFA Cup Final had contrasting fortunes, Melbourne Victory accounting for Wellington Phoenix 3-0 in front of 24,934 fans at Etihad Stadium.

A cracking first half benefited from Besart Berisha’s tenth minute goal, with Roy Krishna twice being denied by stunning tackles when in a great position to level the scores before half-time.

The superb reflex save Danny Vukovic made to keep out Ben Sigmund’s bullet header also aided Melbourne’s cause before the interval, after which they came out all guns blazing and scored twice inside the first sixteen minutes of the second spell to seal the deal.

Costa Barbarouses, who later grazed the post with a twenty-five yarder, saw his driven cross take a wicked deflection off Andrew Durante and career between Glen Moss and his near post for the second goal in the 55th minute, while Berisha bagged his second six minutes later on the counter-attack, with Moss producing a couple of vital saves after this effort to ensure Wellington wouldn’t concede any more goals.

A second successive four-day spread of matches is the tale of the tape in the fifth round, which kicks off on Thursday night when Adelaide entertain Melbourne City at Coopers Stadium.

Sydney and Brisbane lock horns in a top-of-the-table tussle at Allianz Stadium twenty-four hours later, while on Saturday night, Newcastle and Western Sydney square off at Hunter Stadium, a day before Central Coast and Wellington meet at Central Coast Stadium.

Melbourne Victory’s visit to Perth has been deferred six weeks due to the teams clashing in the final of the FFA Cup on Saturday evening at AAMI Park.

HAL R4 Match details

Brisbane Roar FC 3 (B. Borrello (9, 90), J. MacLaren (78)) – Adelaide United FC 0; HT 1-0
Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (R. O’Donovan (35)) – Sydney FC 3 (S. Smeltz (34), M. Simon (81, 88)); HT 1-1
Melbourne City FC 2 (A. Mooy (12), S. Mauk (22)) – Newcastle Jets FC 3 (B. Kantarovski (58), M. Trifunovic (74 pen, 79)); HT 2-0
Melbourne Victory FC 3 (B. Berisha (10, 61), “oggie” (55)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 0; HT 1-0
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (D. Vidosic (45)) – Perth Glory FC 0; HT 1-0

HAL 11 Ladder
                          P    W    D    L    F    A    GD    Pts

Sydney FC        4    3    1    0    6    2    +4    10

Brisbane Roar        4    3    0    1    10    5    +5    9

Newcastle Jets        4    3    0    1    6    4    +2    9

Melbourne Victory    4    2    1    1    6    3    +3    7

Wellington Phoenix    4    2    0    2    6    8    -2    6

Melbourne City        4    1    1    2    8    8    0    4

Western Sydney    4    1    1    2    3    5    -2    4

Perth Glory        4    1    0    3    6    7    -1    3

Central Coast Mariners    4    1    0    3    6    10    -4    3

Adelaide United    4    0    2    2    2    7    -5    2

By Jeremy Ruane

W-League Round 3

Melbourne Victory FC 0 – Newcastle United Jets FC 1 (Chloe Logarzo 45’+2)
Perth Glory FC 0 – Melbourne City FC 4 (Marianna Tabain 12’, Lisa De Vanna 20’, Larissa Crummer 52’, 64’)
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (Elizabeth Grey 83’) – Sydney FC 2 (Leena Khamis 2’, 37’)
Brisbane Roar FC 1 (Katrina Gorry 23’) – Adelaide United FC 2 (Rosie Sutton 10’, Emily Condon 52’)