R11 Review: Leaders held as Champs lose four straight

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

HAL Review

Western Sydney Wanderers saw their advantage at the top of the Hyundai A-League cut to two points in the final round before Christmas, but it’s the title-holders who have most to be concerned about after they slumped to a fourth successive defeat, leaving coach Kevin Muscat hoping that the only sack heading his way over the course of the next few weeks will be sourced from the North Pole!

Melbourne Victory’s season has gone from bad to worse, with the reigning champions suffering two more defeats this week to make it four games without having earned a solitary point.

On Wednesday evening, they were downed 1-0 at NIB Stadium by Perth Glory, for whom Diego Castro struck sixteen minutes from time to earn the home team a very welcome win, the margin of which would have been greater but for the efforts of Melbourne goalkeeper Danny Vukovic.

That said, the title-holders were also a bit miffed, Besart Berisha being denied a clear penalty in the first half when held back, before the crossbar intervened to frustrate him even further in the second spell as 5,398 fans looked on.

Seventy-two hours later, the Melbourne derby took place in front of 23,572 fans at AAMI Park, and it was the City fans who were crowing come the final whistle after they held on for a 2-1 victory they scarcely deserved.

City began brightly, Stefan Mauk’s diving header giving them the lead after twenty minutes, and Paulo Retre doubling it ten minutes later. But Berisha pulled one back on the stroke of half-time for the title-holders, who laid siege to City’s goal throughout a compelling second half.

However, they came up against a human wall in Thomas Sorensen, the Dane pulling off a string of stunning saves to keep City’s arch-rivals at bay, with a wee bit of help from the woodwork – Costa Barbarouses and Erik Paartalu were thwarted by this means – and the odd goal-line clearance contributing to Melbourne Victory’s despair come the final whistle.

Later that evening, Perth maintained their recent good form by holding league leaders Western Sydney Wanderers to a 2-2 draw in front of 7,049 fans at NIB Stadium, who saw the home team get off to a flying start when Castro struck his second goal of the week, this time from the penalty spot in the second minute.

Brendon Santalab restored parity after twenty minutes to trigger a spell of pressure from the visitors which was only snapped by Mitch Oxborrow’s superbly struck twenty-five yard free-kick on the hour mark, which regained the lead for Perth.

The league leaders weren’t to be denied, however, Mitch Nichols’ equaliser nine minutes from time denying Perth a third successive home win in seven days, while allowing Wests to remain clear at the top of the table.

Brisbane Roar are hard on their heels, Dimitri Petratos’ goal five minutes from time clinching a 1-0 win in front of 5,124 fans at Central Coast Mariners, who have fallen further adrift of the pack thanks to Adelaide United earning a scoreless draw at Newcastle Jets in the round’s opening fixture.

The visitors were denied all three points at Hunter Stadium by the inspired goalkeeping of Mark Birighitti, who once again kept Newcastle in the contest with a string of fine saves, including one at the death to deny Bruce Djite.

Marcel Carrusca was twice denied by the woodwork as Adelaide bid to silence the 7,332 present, while Mateo Poljak hit the post with the home team’s best chance of the match six minutes before half-time.

The goalscoring action at Westpac Stadium was confined to the last six minutes of Wellington Phoenix’s 1-1 draw with Sydney FC, but the 10,027 fans present know the home team dodged a bullet in this match.

Brandon O’Neill hit Wellington’s crossbar with a sumptuous free-kick on the stroke of half-time, while Andrew Hoole was thwarted in his bid to score from the penalty spot in the 48th minute by Glen Moss’ fine one-handed save.

The deadlock was finally broken six minutes from time when Filip Holosko’s splendid solo effort secured Sydney the lead, but a Roy Krishna penalty five minutes later restored parity and earned Wellington an unlikely point from a match Sydney should have won.

The Christmas round of matches commences on Christmas Eve, with Western Sydney and Newcastle squaring up at Pirtek Stadium. A brace of games on Boxing Day sees Adelaide welcoming Wellington to Coopers Stadium, while Sydney and Central Coast clash at Allianz Stadium.

And on Sunday, Brisbane and Melbourne City meet at Suncorp Stadium on a day Melbourne Victory will be targeting nothing short of three points when Perth visit AAMI Park.

As this is the final review before the festive season, it remains for me to wish all readers a safe and happy Christmas.

Match details:

Perth Glory FC 1 (D. Castro (74)) – Melbourne Victory FC 0; HT 0-0

Central Coast Mariners FC 0 – Brisbane Roar FC 1 (D. Petratos (85)); HT 0-0

Melbourne City FC 2 (S. Mauk (x), P. Retre (x)) – Melbourne Victory FC 1 (B. Berisha (45)); HT 2-1

Newcastle United FC 0 – Adelaide United FC 0

Perth Glory FC 2 (D. Castro (2 pen), M. Oxborrow (60)) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (B. Santalab (20), M. Nichols (81)); HT 1-1

Wellington Phoenix 1 (R. Krishna (89 pen)), Sydney FC 1 (F. Holosko (84)) HT 0-0

Ladder

P    W    D    L    F    A    GD    Pts

Western Sydney Wanderers    11    7    2    2    18    10    +8    23

Brisbane Roar    11    6    3    2    17    10    +7    21

Melbourne City    11    6    2    3    29    17    +12    20

Sydney FC    11    4    5    2    11    9    +2    17

Melbourne Victory    11    5    1    5    15    14    +1    16

Wellington Phoenix    11    4    3    4    16    16    0    15

Newcastle Jets    11    3    4    4    9    13    -4    13

Perth Glory    11    3    2    6    12    17    -5    11

Adelaide United    11    2    4    5    10    18    -8    10

Central Coast Mariners    11    1    2    8    11    24    -13    5

Jeremy Ruane

Westfield W-League – Season 8 – 2015/2016 – Round 10

Newcastle Jets FC 1 (Tara Andrews 19’ pen) – Adelaide United FC 5 (Abby Dahlkemper 14’, 94’, Elizabeth Milne 26’, Rosie Sutton 75’, Emily Condon 90’)

Melbourne City FC 4 (Kim Little 63’, Marianna Tabain 69’, Larissa Crummer 83’, Jess Fishlock 93’) – Perth Glory FC 0

Sydney FC 0 – Brisbane Roar FC 3 (Tameka Butt 19’, Alanna Kennedy 38’ O.G., Clare Polkinghorne 63’)

Western Sydney Wanderers – BYE

Ladder link: http://www.w-league.com.au/ladder

Foxtel National Youth League – Version 2 – 2015/2016 – Round 7

Conference A:

Brisbane Roar FC 10 – Adelaide United FC 0

Melbourne City FC 0 – Melbourne Victory FC 0  

Conference B:

FFA Centre of Excellence 1 – Central Coast Mariners FC 4

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0 – Sydney FC 0

Ladder link:  http://www.y-league.com.au/ladder/y_league