R17 Review: Western Sydney and Brisbane big winners in key round

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

HAL Review

Defeats for three of the top five teams – including another loss for reigning champions Melbourne Victory – have allowed Western Sydney Wanderers and Brisbane Roar to commandeer the top two spots on the Hyundai A-League table after an eventful seventeenth round of action took place on the last weekend in January.

Wests edged Melbourne City 4-3 in a right royal humdinger at Pirtek Stadium, where 14,820 fans saw the visitors’ Patrick Kisnorbo depart the fray through injury just four minutes into the contest.

Dario Vidosic had a goal ruled out by the offside flag soon after, but Wests finally got their noses in front just after the half-hour mark, Mitch Nichols breaking the deadlock with a scorching finish after receiving a pass from Mark Bridge.

Both Bridge and Nichols could have scored again before the interval, while City’s Osama Malik somehow avoided putting through his own net prior to the half-time whistle, after which Bridge struck twice in six minutes after the hour mark to put the home team well in charge.

It looked all over as a contest at this point, but City had other ideas, and two goals in as many minutes from Harry Novillo and Bruno Fornaroli changed things completely – 3-2 with twelve minutes left, and a grandstand finish very much on the cards.

Having done all the hard work to get back into the contest, however, Adrian Caceres undid all City’s efforts by getting himself sent off five minutes from time. Wests weren’t slow to take advantage of their numerical superiority, Brendon Santalab securing the points four minutes later before Erik Paartalu reduced the deficit in stoppage time.

Brisbane took full advantage of City’s defeat, leapfrogging them thanks to a 3-1 win at Sydney FC in front of 12,548 fans at a storm-hit Allianz Stadium which put the victor’s season back on track.

A bit of brilliance from Thomas Broich lit up the match in the eighth minute, with Jamie MacLaren the ultimate beneficiary, scoring at the second attempt after his first effort rebounded off the post.

At times in the first half, the impact of the weather threatened the game itself, with underfoot conditions decidedly slippery bordering on treacherous in some parts. Play continued, however, but it was only after half-time that Sydney came into their own.

Corona’s own goal seven minutes into the second half was due reward for the home team’s pressure, but Brisbane, who had suffered four-goal defeats in their last two matches, weren’t to be denied.

Dimitri Petratos led their second half revival, his cross allowing Matt McKay to restore Brisbane’s advantage half-way through the second spell before the midfielder’s through ball was tucked home by MacLaren fourteen minutes from time to clinch the points for the Queenslanders.

Perth Glory produced the shock of the round, stunning Melbourne Victory 3-2 at NIB Stadium, where the 10,501 fans – Perth’s biggest crowd of the season – rejoiced as Andy Keogh took advantage of a defensive blunder on the half-hour to fire the hosts in front.

Within two minutes, Diego Castro had doubled their advantage, tucking home the rebound after a Keogh shot had hit the post. The crossbar prevented Perth from taking a three-goal lead five minutes before half-time, Nebojsa Marinkovic’s thirty yard free-kick cannoning off the woodwork to safety.

Melbourne took advantage of this let-off to reduce the deficit through Besart Berisha on the stroke of half-time, and he brought the visitors level with a headed goal twenty minutes from time.

By this time, Melbourne had been reduced to ten men, Fahid Ben Khalfallah earning a red card for lashing out at Shane Lowry while in a prone position well behind play. His actions were seen by one of the match officials, and ultimately proved costly to the visitors, who fell behind to what proved to be the match-winning goal eight minutes from time, Castro potting a penalty following a foul on Keogh.

Adelaide United maintained the seven-point gap between the top six and the also-rans thanks to a 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets in front of 12,434 fans at Coopers Stadium, where Marcelo Carrusca struck the only goal these teams have produced in three clashes this season two minutes before half-time.

The clash between two of the bottom three teams was brought to life by half-time substitute Luis Garcia, the former Liverpool star inspiring Central Coast Mariners to a 3-1 win over Wellington Phoenix in front of 8,545 fans at Christchurch’s AMI Stadium.

The 2005 European Cup winner needed just five minutes to cast his spell on proceedings, his brilliantly back-heeled goal igniting a match which had been crying out for some individual brilliance.

Garcia delivered it in spades, setting up Storm Roux’s goal two minutes later, and – with the help of an offside flag which stayed down when it should have been raised – providing the pass from which Mitch Austin delivered the coup de grace five minutes from time to clinch Coast’s first win on the road in 22 matches.

Wellington scored a stoppage time consolation goal through Blake Powell, a goal they deserved after fine saves by Paul Izzo denied Roly Bonevacia and Tom Doyle. But this result marked an eighth successive game without a win for the Kiwi team, and their play-off hopes are fast disappearing, even though ten rounds remain.

The first of those rounds kicks off on Friday evening, with Adelaide welcoming Sydney to Coopers Stadium. Twenty-four hours later, Brisbane entertain Central Coast at Suncorp Stadium, while the clash of Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney at Etihad Stadium should be a tasty affair.

On Sunday evening, Wellington reacquaint themselves with Westpac Stadium as Perth make the long trek east, while Newcastle will be hard-pressed to contain Melbourne City at Hunter Stadium.

Match details:

Adelaide United FC 1 (M. Carrusca (43)) – Newcastle Jets FC 0; HT 1-0

Perth Glory FC 3 (A. Keogh (27), D. Castro (29, 82 pen)) – Melbourne Victory FC 2 (B. Berisha (44, 69)); HT 2-1

Sydney FC 1 (“oggie” (52)) – Brisbane Roar FC 3 (J. MacLaren (8, 76), M. McKay (67)); HT 0-1

Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (B. Powell (90)) – Central Coast Mariners FC 3 (L. Garcia (50), S. Roux (52), M. Austin (85)); HT 0-0

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 4 (M. Nichols (32), M. Bridge (60, 66), B. Santalab (89)) – Melbourne City FC 3 (H. Novillo (76), B. Fornaroli (78), E. Paartalu (90)); HT 1-0

P W D L F A GD Pts

Western Sydney Wanderers 17 10 3 4 29 19 +10 33

Brisbane Roar 17 9 4 4 26 21 +5 31

Melbourne City 17 8 4 5 43 31 +12 28

Melbourne Victory 17 8 3 6 27 21 +6 27

Sydney FC 17 7 6 4 22 17 +5 27

Adelaide United 17 7 5 5 24 21 +3 26

Perth Glory 17 5 4 8 26 28 -2 19

Wellington Phoenix 17 4 4 9 20 31 -11 16

Newcastle Jets 17 4 4 9 13 26 -13 16

Central Coast Mariners 17 3 3 11 23 38 -15 12
By Jeremy Ruane

Westfield W-League – Season 8 – 2015/2016 – Final
2pm, Sunday 31 January,  2016 – Melbourne Football Stadium (AAMI)

Melbourne City FC  4 (Jennifer Beattie 32′, Kim Little 55′, Beattie Goad 79′, Lisa De Vanna 90’+5)
Sydney FC 1 (Kyah Simon 69′)