R8 Review: Change at the top as fans stage mass walk-outs
by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com
HAL Review – Round 8
A change at the top and walk-outs by fans of both the reigning champions and their predecessors were among the highlights of eighth round action in the Hyundai A-League across the last weekend in November.
The round opened on Thursday evening with Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix producing a dour scoreless draw in which Alex Brosque hit the woodwork late on, matching the feat of the visitors’ Alex Rodriguez on the hour as 9,253 fans looked on.
It was the depressing trill of referee Chris Beath’s whistle which dominated proceedings in this game, the official halting play 43 times for fouls, with Sydney responsible for two-thirds of them.
Needless to say, the home club was incensed by this, so much so that they have laid a formal complaint with league management regarding Beath’s display, and requested that he not be appointed to any of their remaining games this season.
We all know what the FFA are like when it comes to being told what to do! They too often dance to their own tune, to the detriment of the game, but the sight of a fair chunk of the 23,415 fans who attended Melbourne Victory’s clash with Adelaide United walking out of Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening is not a metric which will please the powers that be.
Western Sydney Wanderers’ fans followed their lead in Sunday’s encounter at Central Coast Mariners, the protests coming in response to not only the FFA’s treatment of Wellington re the club’s licence issues, but their naming – leaked or otherwise – of 198 fans who have been banned from attending A-League fixtures for various misdemeanours in the eyes of league management.
Make no mistake, Football Federation Australia has crossed a line with their actions, and over-reached their jurisdiction in the eyes of the masses. If they genuinely have the best interests of the game as a whole, and the competition in particular, at heart, a pro-active mea culpa and swift resolution of these self-inflicted problems will do the governing body much good, although it won’t completely resolve matters.
As a result of their actions which led to these protests, there’s the not insignificant matter of a breach of the public’s trust in the FFA’s ability to run the league, and that won’t be resolved overnight – far from it.
Indeed, it’s not beyond the realms to suggest that, such is the depth of feeling over these issues, it may ultimately require an independent body to take over the running of the A-League – which, in truth, may be the best solution of all.
While their fans were voting with their feet, the champions held off an indisciplined Adelaide outfit to prevail 2-1, thanks to a Besart Berisha penalty on the quarter-hour and an Oliver Bozanic strike fifteen minutes later.
The visitors, who had seven players booked in an at times testy encounter, could muster no more than a Marcelo Carrusca penalty two minutes from time as they equalled a club record – this was their ninth successive game without a win.
Twenty-four hours earlier, a mere 5,953 fans turned up at AAMI Park to see Melbourne City record the biggest win of the season so far. They trounced Perth Glory 5-1, with Erik Paartalu setting them on their way just six minutes into the match.
That goal was set up by Aaron Mooy, as was Connor Chapman’s strike thirteen minutes later. The midfielder also had a hand in Bruno Fornaroli’s goal ten minutes before half-time, although it was Casey Gameiro – later to depart the fray with a season-ending ACL injury – who supplied the pass which allowed the striker to net his sixth goal of the campaign.
Sidnei Sciola Moraes pulled one back on the stroke of half-time for Perth, but that was as good as it got for the visitors, Harry Novillo restoring Melbourne’s three-goal lead eight minutes into the second spell.
Needless to say, Mooy’s corner was largely responsible for that goal coming about, and eight minutes from time, it was fitting that the man-of-the-match potted a penalty to round off the rout, the spot-kick coming as a result of Perth debutant Aryn Williams committing a foul which earned him an early shower.
In between the Melbourne teams’ triumphs, league leaders Brisbane Roar were held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium, where the 10,115 present were treated to a ding-dong go in which both teams hit the woodwork inside the first twenty minutes.
David Carney’s crossbar rattler for the home team was matched by Dimitri Petratos’ post-shaker as the pre-match fly-over by the RAAF’s F18 Hornets inspired both teams to similar heights.
Newcastle debutant Braedyn Crowley squandered a glorious chance to open the scoring before half-time when scooping the ball against the post with the goal at his mercy, a miss which Jamie MacLaren punished seven minutes into the second spell to give Brisbane the lead.
They couldn’t hold onto their hard-earned advantage, however, Ben Kantarovski levelling matters from close range nineteen minutes from time to earn the home team a share of the spoils in a lively spectacle well controlled by referee Peter Green – some of his whistle- and card-happy colleagues could learn a thing or three about game- and man-management from his display.
As well as another fans’ en masse walk-out, the final game of the round saw Western Sydney edge Central Coast 2-0 at Central Coast Stadium, with 10,519 fans in attendance to see Mitch Nichols’ injury time goal seal the deal for the visitors, after Brendon Santalab had given Wests the lead half-way through the second spell.
Nichols missed an open goal and Romeo Castelen hit the post in a frantic opening stanza from the visitors, with the latter also spurning an open goal in the second spell before substitute Santalab broke the deadlock to send Wests on their way to a share of top spot on the table.
There’s more Thursday night football this week as Central Coast and Melbourne City meet at the former’s Stadium. Twenty-four hours later, Sydney and Newcastle square off at Allianz Stadium, while there’s a third game in New South Wales on Saturday evening as Western Sydney welcomes Brisbane to Pirtek Stadium.
Earlier on Saturday, Wellington welcome the reigning champions to Auckland’s QBE Stadium, while on Sunday night Adelaide and Perth lock horns at Cooper’s Stadium to bring the first third of round-robin play to a close.
Melbourne City FC 5 (E. Paartalu (6), C. Chapman (19), B. Fornaroli (35), H. Novillo (53), A. Mooy (82 pen)) – Perth Glory FC 1 (S. Moraes (45)); HT 3-1
Melbourne Victory FC 2 (B. Berisha (14 pen), O. Botanic (30)) – Adelaide United FC 1 (M. Carrusca (88 pen)) HT 2-0
Newcastle Jets FC 1 (B. Kantarovski (71)) – Brisbane Roar FC 1 (J. MacLaren (52)); HT 0-0
Sydney FC 0 – Wellington Phoenix FC 0
Central Coast Mariners FC 0 – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (B. Santalab (66), M. Nichols (90)); HT 0-0
P W D L F A GD Pts
Melbourne Victory 7 5 1 1 14 7 +7 16
Western Sydney Wanderers 8 5 1 2 12 7 +5 16
Brisbane Roar 8 4 3 1 13 7 +6 15
Sydney FC 8 3 4 1 8 6 +2 13
Newcastle Jets 8 3 3 2 9 8 +1 12
Melbourne City 8 3 2 3 18 15 +3 11
Wellington Phoenix 8 3 2 3 12 13 -1 11
Central Coast Mariners 8 1 2 5 9 16 -7 5
Perth Glory 7 1 1 5 7 13 -6 4
Adelaide United 8 0 3 5 7 17 -10 3
By Jeremy Ruane
Westfield W-League – Season 8 – 2015/2016 – Round 7
Adelaide United FC 0 – Sydney FC 1 (Jasmyne Spencer 68’)
Perth Glory FC 1 (Carla Bennett 84’) – Melbourne Victory FC 3 (Hayley Raso 9’, Christine Nairn 52’, Whitney Knight 90’)
Brisbane Roar FC 0 – Newcastle Jets FC 4 (Adriana Jones 22’, Caprice Dydasco 55’, Jenna Kingsley 75’, Megan Oyster 83’)
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (Erica Halloway 77’) – Canberra United FC 4 (Kendall Fletcher 4’, 79’, Rachael Soutar O.G. 53’, Ashleigh Sykes 83’)
BYE – Melbourne City FC
Foxtel National Youth League – Version 2 – Season 2015/2016 – Round 4
FFA Centre of Excellence 0 – Sydney FC 1
Newcastle Jets FC 3 – Central Coast Mariners FC 0
Adelaide United FC 1 – Brisbane Roar FC 0
Melbourne Victory FC 5 – Melbourne City FC 4