R18 Review: Brisbane lone winners among Top Six

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


Brisbane Roar were the only team of the six occupying the Hyundai A-League play-offs placings to win in round eighteen of the competition on Waitangi weekend, and as a result now share the leadership of the competition.

Leaders Western Sydney Wanderers required a last-minute equaliser from Brendon Santalab to earn a 1-1 draw at Melbourne Victory, for whom Besart Berisha struck on the quarter-hour to the delight of the home fans among the 25,445-strong crowd at Etihad Stadium.

The visitors were the better team throughout proceedings, keeping Melbourne ‘keeper Danny Vukovic busy throughout the ninety minutes, so their late equaliser was well deserved. There was still time for a gathering of the clans to take place, however, with Wests’ Alberto Aguilar copping a red card for his part in the stoppage time incident.

That gathering of the clans wasn’t confined to on-field behaviour, unfortunately, with the FFA releasing a statement on Sunday condemning, not for the first time this season, the “actions of a minority”. Watch this space.

Brisbane regained a share of top spot by trouncing Central Coast Mariners 4-0 at Suncorp Stadium, where the visitors were well off the pace, and had been out of the contest long before Harry Ascroft was sent off nineteen minutes from time, after he conceded the penalty from which Henrique wrapped up the scoring.

Jade North and Jamie MacLaren had the home team two goals to the good inside the first 36 minutes, while Corona’s snorter, created by Thomas Broich on the hour mark, earned the biggest cheer of the night from the 11,788 fans present.

Third-placed Melbourne City came a cropper at Hunter Stadium, where 7,266 fans saw Newcastle Jets edge the visitors 2-1, City ending the match with ten players on the park following the dismissal, half-way through the second spell, of Jacob Melling.

The home team edged an absorbing first half, and were rewarded early in the second spell when Milos Trifunovic sent Thomas Sorensen the wrong way from the penalty spot to give Newcastle the lead.

Following Melling’s dismissal, he doubled their advantage eighteen minutes from time, setting up a huge upset which wasn‘t put off by Bruno Fornaroli’s fifteenth goal of the season seven minutes later.

Adelaide United and Sydney FC kicked off the weekend’s action on Friday evening with a 2-2 draw at Coopers Stadium, a result which extended United’s unbeaten run to ten games.

Sergio Cirio gave the home team the ideal start, although he knew little about it, the ball ricocheting off him into the net in the third minute after Sebastian Ryall had looked to clear a cross.

When Isaias hit the crossbar with a free-kick on the quarter-hour, the 11,785 fans settled in anticipating more United goals, but it didn’t quite work out as they had hoped.

Three goals in the space of eight minutes at the end of the first half brought about the final scoreline. Sydney came back into the contest, and were rewarded when Matt Simon headed home a 37th minute equaliser.

But with half-time looming, Cirio restored United’s advantage, only for Filip Holosko to level things up again deep in first half stoppage time. And while the visitors had the better of the second half exchanges, the deadlock remained unbroken, ensuring Sydney remain a point ahead of Adelaide on the table.

Perth Glory kept alive their faint hopes of overtaking one or other of these teams by edging Wellington Phoenix 1-0 in front of 7,135 fans at Westpac Stadium, who saw the deadlock broken in the 21st minute by Chris Harold’s unchallenged header from a pinpoint Nebojsa Marinkovic free-kick.

Andy Keogh hit the post in the second spell of a match in which the home team’s inability to score goals was again underlined – they have now picked up just two points in their last nine matches.

Next weekend’s action kicks off with Brisbane entertaining Newcastle at Suncorp Stadium on Friday. Saturday’s clash of Sydney and Perth at Allianz Stadium is followed by the Melbourne derby at AAMI Park, while on Sunday, Central Coast host Adelaide at Central Coast Stadium prior to the clash of Western Sydney and Wellington at Pirtek Stadium.

Match details:

Adelaide United FC 2 (S. Cirio (3, 45)) – Sydney FC 2 (M. Simon (37), F. Holosko (45)); HT 2-2

Brisbane Roar FC 4 (J. North (20), J. MacLaren (36), Corona (59), Henrique (72 pen)) – Central Coast Mariners FC 0; HT 2-0

Melbourne Victory FC 1 (B. Berisha (16)) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (B. Santalab (89)); HT 1-0

Newcastle Jets FC 2 (M. Trifunovic (48 pen, 72)) – Melbourne City FC 1 (B. Fornaroli (79)); HT 0-0

Wellington Phoenix FC 0 – Perth Glory FC 1 (C.. Harold (21)); HT 0-1

P W D L F A GD Pts

Western Sydney Wanderers 18 10 4 4 30 20 +10 34

Brisbane Roar 18 10 4 4 30 21 +9 34

Melbourne City 18 8 4 6 44 33 +11 28

Melbourne Victory 18 8 4 6 28 22 +6 28

Sydney FC 18 7 7 4 24 19 +5 28

Adelaide United 18 7 6 5 26 23 +3 27

Perth Glory 18 6 4 8 27 28 -1 22

Newcastle Jets 18 5 4 9 15 27 -12 19

Wellington Phoenix 18 4 4 10 20 32 -12 16

Central Coast Mariners 18 3 3 12 23 42 -19 12