R20 Review: A-League lead changes hands yet again

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

One thing you can always say about the Hyundai A-League – it’s ultra competitive!

The leadership of the competition changed hands yet again in round twenty, with Western Sydney Wanderers back on top of the pile after being held to a 1-1 draw at Allianz Stadium by Sydney FC, the league’s draw specialists.

In front of a bumper crowd of 40,382 fans, Wests dominated the early exchanges, and it came as no surprise when Dario Vidosic struck a thirteenth minute opener to reward the visitors’ work.

Matt Simon responded by hitting the bar for Sydney, before Matt Jurman got into a feisty exchange with debutant Wests’ goalkeeper Liam Reddy which was followed soon afterwards by the equaliser, Alex Brosque’s back-heeled flick ricocheting into the net off Scott Jamieson nine minutes before half-time.

There were numerous chances at both ends in the second spell, but come the final whistle, Sydney had extended their unbeaten streak in this contest to seven matches, although the point was enough to return the former AFC Champions League winners to first place on the standings.

That’s because incumbents Brisbane Roar found themselves on the wrong end of a stunning 6-3 scoreline at Perth Glory’s NIB Stadium, where 12,156 fans witnessed a result which equalled the record for most goals scored in an A-League fixture.

Perth opened the scoring through Andy Keogh just five minutes into the contest. Over the course of the next forty minutes, six more goals were scored, with Jamie MacLaren notching an equaliser which had more than a hint of offside about it twelve minutes later.

Brisbane took the lead through Dimitri Petratos’ penalty just shy of the half-hour, the first of five goals scored in a crazy thirteen minute period. Chris Harold headed home the equaliser in the 32nd minute, before Jade North restored the visitors’ advantage three minutes later.

Nebojsa Marinkovic unleashed a thirty yard free-kick to drag Perth level again seven minutes before half-time, and they took the lead three minutes later when Shane Lowry powered home a header.

It was 5-3 four minutes into the second half when Diego Castro converted a penalty, after which a raft of opportunities were squandered before Richard Garcia swooped four minutes from time to give Perth an incredible come-from-behind win and leave them well in play-offs contention – they are now one point behind Melbourne Victory and Sydney.

Adelaide United closed to within two points of the leaders thanks to Bruce Kamau’s last gasp deflected winner at AAMI Park, where reigning champions Melbourne Victory were edged 1-0 in front of 18,924 fans, who were well behaved in light of the home team copping a $50,000 fine and suspended three point deduction during the week.

Guilherme Finkler’s free-kick which rattled the crossbar seven minutes before half-time was the only other noteworthy highlight in a match which had 0-0 written all over it until the United substitute produced his last-ditch heroics to clinch all three points for the visitors.

Melbourne City produced a come-from-behind 4-1 victory over Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park on Sunday evening to close to within three points of the league lead.

The home team enjoyed the better of the exchanges throughout the first half, but couldn’t find a way past Paul Izzo initially. The visitors, meanwhile, mounted a rare attack eleven minutes before the break and were rewarded by the opening goal, Mitch Austin outpacing all comers to score it.

City came out all guns blazing in the second spell, and were on level terms through Patrick Kisnorbo within three minutes of play resuming. Bruno Fornaroli was then thwarted, while the post prevented Alex Wilkinson from giving Melbourne the lead.

The home team were awarded a spot-kick in the 57th minute, but it wasn’t taken until the 66th minute, a consequence of Storm Roux landed awkwardly inside the area in the aftermath of the penalty incident – he had to be stretchered from the field and might be out of action for a while.

Aaron Mooy did the honours from twelve yards when play eventually resumed, and within three minutes, City had made the game safe, Ben Garuccio netting his first goal for the club.

Further saves from Izzo kept the score down, while Fabio Ferreira picked up his second booking of the contest to leave Central Coast to conclude the match with ten men on the park, as they recorded their fourteenth loss of a sorry campaign.

Mooy netted a free-kick at the death to seal the visitors’ fate in this encounter, and bring up City’s 50th goal of the campaign – none of the other clubs have struck more than 35 goals so far this season.

Newcastle Jets scored a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Wellington Phoenix in front of 7,120 fans at Hunter Stadium, where the visitors were 2-1 up at half-time thanks to a brace of Hamish Watson goals, his efforts sandwiching an Andrew Durante own goal scored in a rather uninspiring first half.

Newcastle came alive in the second spell when former Danish international Morten Nordstrand uncorked a cracking equaliser seven minutes into the second half, and it was the new signing who netted the winner seventeen minutes from time, two minutes after Watson had cost his team the match by stupidly getting himself sent off for kicking the ball away, having already been booked.

Wellington and Melbourne City get the 21st round of action under way on Friday evening at Westpac Stadium, followed later that evening by the clash of Western Sydney and Perth at Pirtek Stadium.

Saturday’s fare sees Adelaide and Brisbane meeting at Coopers Stadium prior to the clash of Melbourne Victory and Sydney at AAMI Park, while on Sunday evening, Central Coast and Newcastle lock horns at Central Coast Stadium.

Match details:

Melbourne City FC 4 (P. Kisnorbo (48), A. Mooy (66 pen, 90), B. Garuccio (69)) – Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (M. Austin (34)); HT 0-1

Melbourne Victory FC 0 – Adelaide United FC 1 (B. Kamau (90)); HT 0-0

Newcastle Jets FC 3 (“oggie” (27), M. Nordstrand (53, 73)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (H. Watson (22, 37)); HT 1-2

Perth Glory FC 6 (A. Keogh (5), C. Harold (32), N. Marinkovic (38), S. Lowry (41), D. Castro (49 pen), R. Garcia (86)) – Brisbane Roar FC 3 (J. MacLaren (17), D. Petratos (28 pen), J. North (35)); HT 4-3

Sydney FC 1 (“oggie” (36)) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (D. Vidosic (13)); HT 1-1

P W D L F A GD Pts

Western Sydney Wanderers 20 10 5 5 33 26 +7 35

Brisbane Roar 20 10 5 5 35 29 +6 35

Adelaide United 20 9 6 5 30 25 +5 33

Melbourne City 20 9 5 6 50 36 +14 32

Melbourne Victory 20 8 5 7 30 25 +5 29

Sydney FC 20 7 8 5 26 22 +4 29

Perth Glory 20 8 4 8 35 32 +3 28

Newcastle Jets 20 6 5 9 20 31 -11 23

Wellington Phoenix 20 5 4 11 27 37 -10 19

Central Coast Mariners 20 3 3 14 26 49 -23 12

By Jeremy Ruane