Round 14 Review: Top Two drop points as Play-Offs race intensifies
by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com
The top two teams in the Hyundai A-League both dropped points as the half-way mark was reached in the competition on the second weekend in January, with leaders Brisbane Roar surprisingly held to a scoreless draw at Westpac Stadium by an injury- and suspension-hit Wellington Phoenix combination.
The visitors had the better of the exchanges in front of 7,774 fans, but the crossbar denied Thomas Broich in the 32nd minute, with the rebound being handled by Andrew Durante as he was pushed from behind by Henrique.
Referee Stephen Lucas instantly pointed to the penalty spot, then, after consulting with one of his assistants, stunned all-comers by changing his decision and awarding Wellington a free-kick – an extremely rare occurrence, but one which was justified, based on the video evidence of the incident.
It was the closest either team got to breaking the deadlock, although both goals survived close calls during a frantic finale, with Wellington the happier side given they had to call upon a handful of fringe first team squad members to make up the numbers, so stretched are they playing resources-wise at present.
Melbourne City ended Western Sydney Wanderers’ ten-match unbeaten run at AAMI Park, the 3-2 scoreline in the home team’s favour a good indication of a ding-dong go between two teams who had their sights set on claiming the three points at stake right from the outset.
Urged on by 9776 fans, City got off to the perfect start when Harry Novillo curled home a seventh minute free-kick, and Bruno Fornaroli doubled their advantage over the second-placed team in fine style on the counter-attack seventeen minutes later.
Wests halved the deficit on the half-hour when Mitch Nichols unleashed a firecracker which Thomas Sorensen found too hot to handle, but the ‘keeper redeemed himself via a string of superb saves in the second spell, although he couldn’t prevent Aaron Hughes from putting through his own net on the hour, as he looked to clear a Romeo Castelen cross.
Cit weren’t to be denied, however, and five minutes from time, Andrew Redmayne was beaten for a third time in the match by a well-judged curling effort, on this occasion Novillo’s second of a compelling contest between two teams who look certain to be in title contention in three months’ time.
It was the classic game of two halves at Simonds Stadium in Geelong on Friday as reigning champions Melbourne Victory came from three goals down at half-time to snatch a 3-3 draw against bottom-placed Central Coast Mariners, whose home game this was.
A crowd of 14,268 fans made the travelling home team’s night metrics-wise, and they were treated to a humdinger of a match which saw the deadlock broken after just twelve minutes courtesy Harry Ascroft, who headed home from a corner.
On the half-hour, Central Coast doubled their lead through Josh Bingham, who turned provider five minutes later as Mitch Austin struck to leave the title-holders’ hopes on the ropes, and the home team well on top despite the absence of Roy O’Donovan, who has copped a deserved eight-match suspension for his role in last week’s head-butting incident.
Whatever was in Melbourne’s half-time tea should be bottled and reserved for special occasions, because they produced a stunning comeback to snatch a share of the spoils, Besart Berisha starting things off from the penalty spot after Costa Barbarouses had been felled on the hour mark.
The All White speedster struck the crossbar at the end of a fine move six minutes later, but Archie Thompson was lurking with intent, and duly tucked home the rebound to set up a grandstand finale.
Melbourne piled on the pressure in search of a third goal, and finally got their reward two minutes into stoppage time, Berisha securing a precious point for the champions, who have collected just five points from their last seven games.
Twenty-four hours later, Sydney FC proved far too strong for a shot-shy Newcastle Jets outfit at ANZ Stadium, their 2-0 victory crowned by the goalscoring return of long-term injury victim Ali Abbas.
He came off the bench to double the victors’ lead ten minutes from time, to the delight of the 15,127 fans present, who had been waiting for over an hour to see Sydney double their advantage, one provided them by Filip Holosko on the quarter-hour.
Perth Glory remain beneath Newcastle but above Central Coast on the standings after going down 3-1 to Adelaide United at NIB Stadium, where the home team played the entire second half with ten men on the park following the dismissal of Alex Grant on the stroke of half-time.
Perth got off to a flying start when Tarek Elrich put through his own net when doing his utmost to deny Chris Harold the pleasure of scoring. It was a lead upon which the home team should have built, but instead they were pegged back just shy of the half-hour mark through a Sergio Cirio strike.
Marcelo Carrusca’s superbly struck second goal, two minutes into the second spell, left ten-man Perth with a mountain to climb in front of the 9,009-strong crowd, and their attempts to overcome it – including penalty claims for a handball offence by Michael Marrone – were dashed at the death by Craig Goodwin’s stoppage time strike, which confirmed United’s victory.
The clash of Melbourne Victory and Brisbane, at AAMI Park on Friday night, kicks off fifteenth round action, which features another Saturday night triple-header. Adelaide and Central Coast clash at Coopers Stadium, with Harbour City bragging rights up for grabs as Western Sydney and Sydney square off at Pirtek Stadium.
Perth entertain Melbourne City at NIB Stadium in the final match on Saturday evening, with the final game of the round taking place at Hunter Stadium on Sunday at Newcastle welcome Wellington.
Central Coast Mariners FC 3 (H. Ascroft (12), J. Bingham (30), M. Austin (35)) – Melbourne Victory FC 3 (B. Berisha (60 pen, 90), A. Thompson (66)); HT 3-0
Melbourne City FC 3 (H. Novillo (7, 85), B. Fornaroli (24)) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (M. Nichols (29), “oggie” (60)); HT 2-1
Perth Glory FC 1 (“oggie” (6)) – Adelaide United FC 3 (S. Cirio (27), M. Carrusca (47), C. Goodwin (90)); HT 1-1
Sydney FC 2 (F. Holosko (15), A. Abbas (80)) – Newcastle Jets FC 0; HT 1-0
Wellington Phoenix FC 0 – Brisbane Roar FC 0
P W D L F A GD Pts
Brisbane Roar 14 8 4 2 22 12 +10 28
Western Sydney Wanderers 14 8 3 3 22 13 +9 27
Melbourne City 14 7 3 4 35 24 +11 24
Sydney FC 14 6 6 2 19 12 +7 24
Melbourne Victory 14 6 3 5 20 18 +2 21
Adelaide United 14 4 5 5 16 19 -3 17
Wellington Phoenix 14 4 4 6 17 22 -5 16
Newcastle Jets 14 3 4 7 9 18 -9 13
Perth Glory 14 3 3 8 15 23 -8 12
Central Coast Mariners 14 2 3 9 18 32 -14 9
By Jeremy Ruane
Westfield W-League – Season 8 – 2015 /2016 – Round 13
The final round in the Westfield W-League will be highlighted by a three-way battle for the fourth and remaining semi-final position, joining Melbourne City FC, Canberra United FC, and Sydney FC.
Sydney FC 2 (Kyah Simon 33’, Leena Khamis 59’) – Newcastle Jets FC 0
Brisbane Roar FC 4 (Clare Polkinghorne 18’, Katrina Gorry 22’, Kirsty Yallop 28’, Angela Beard 93’) –
Melbourne Victory FC 0
Canberra United FC 3 (Caitlin Munoz 6’, Rebecca Kiting 11’, Ashleigh Sykes 58’) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0
Perth Glory FC 2 (Vanessa Di Bernardo 64’, 78’) – Adelaide United FC 1 (Abigail Dahlkemper 83’)
BYE – Melbourne City FC
Foxtel National Youth League – Version 2 – 2015/20106 – Round 9
Brisbane Roar FC 5 – Melbourne City FC 2
Adelaide United FC 2 – Perth Glory FC 1
FFA Centre of Excellence 2 – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 5
Newcastle United Jets FC 1 – Sydney FC 0