R21 Review: Western Sydney top again after Adelaide batter Brisbane

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

Western Sydney Wanderers are alone at the top of the Hyundai A-League again with six rounds of the premiership phase remaining, but it’s Adelaide United who are now hard on their heels after they swept former co-leaders Brisbane Roar aside in convincing fashion.

Wests took the outright lead in the competition on Friday after overcoming Perth Glory 2-1 at Pirtek Stadium, where 12,639 fans saw Brendon Santalab – not for the first time this season – clinch the points with a late winner.

An intriguing first half saw Romeo Castelen introduced to the fray early on, and he it was who broke the deadlock just after the hour mark, only for Andy Keogh to restore parity from the penalty spot two minutes later, setting up a battle royal which was finally decided by “Supersub” Santalab five minutes from time.

Twenty-four hours later, co-leaders Brisbane came a cropper in front of 12,712 fans at Coopers Stadium, where Adelaide prevailed 3-0 to leapfrog the former outright table-toppers into second place on the standings.

Bruce Kamau followed up his last-gasp winner a week ago by opening the scoring seven minutes before half-time in this encounter, and he played a pivotal role in Bruce Djite doubling United’s lead five minutes into the second spell.

Pablo Sanchez iced the cake nine minutes from time to seal Adelaide’s win, and extend their unbeaten run in the competition to a remarkable thirteen matches as they closed to within two points of the lead – you’d have got long odds on this being the case at the end of the eighth round, when United was propping up the table.

The other upset in the round saw Wellington Phoenix, despite the absence of any recognised strikers in their squad, overcome Melbourne City 2-1 in front of 6,591 fans at Westpac Stadium, where all the scoring took place inside the first twenty minutes of the match.

Louis Fenton and Matthew Ridenton, two of the unlikeliest goalscorers given they were playing out of position, rewarded manager Ernie Merrick’s faith in them by netting two goals in as many minutes before the quarter hour was up.

City struck back within five minutes through Aaron Mooy’s deflected free-kick, and the playmaker hit the bar with a stunning thirty yard set-piece just shy of the hour mark, by which time the visitors should have equalised.

But Andrew Durante’s goal-line clearance from Anthony Caceres’ effort typified the doggedness Wellington’s captain has displayed in his 200-game career with the club, and it was the home team who were celebrating for a number of reasons come the final whistle, not the least of which being this was their first home game since the conditional extension of their A-League licence for a further ten years.

Sydney FC maintained their standing as the league’s draw specialists by holding Melbourne Victory to a 1-1 draw in front of 20,112 fans at AAMI Park, despite having just ten players on the park for the last twenty-five minutes of the match.

Jacques Faty’s dismissal – another victim of the polarising influence who is Besart Berisha – left the visitors somewhat in peril, given they were already trailing to Costa Barbarouses’ early second half effort, and were being dominated by a Melbourne side who were only denied a Guilherme Finkler goal in the first half by the crossbar.

But Melbourne were unable to finish the job, and paid the price fourteen minutes from time when former Newcastle Jets striker David Carney struck his fourth goal of the season, his first in Sydney’s colours.

On Sunday evening, Newcastle Jets prevailed in the F3 derby at Central Coast Stadium, Steven Ugarkovic’s 57th minute goal the only one of the game as Central Coast Mariners slumped to their fifteenth defeat of the season.

Brisbane and Wests kick off round twenty-two action at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night, while on Saturday, Wellington welcome Adelaide to Westpac Stadium before Sydney make another trip to Melbourne, this time to take on City at AAMI Park.

On Sunday evening, Central Coast and Melbourne Victory meet at Central Coast Stadium, while Perth and Newcastle clash at NIB Stadium on Monday night, as Western Australia celebrates Labour Day.

Match details:

Adelaide United FC 3 (B. Kamau (38), B. Djite (50), P. Sanchez (81)) – Brisbane Roar FC 0; HT 1-0

Central Coast Mariners FC 0 – Newcastle Jets FC 1 (S. Ugarkovic (57)); HT 0-0

Melbourne Victory FC 1 (C. Barbarouses (46)) – Sydney FC 1 (D. Carney (76)); HT 0-0

Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (L. Fenton (12), M. Ridenton (14)) – Melbourne City FC 1 (A. Mooy (19)); HT 2-1

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (R. Castelen (62), B. Santalab (85)) – Perth Glory FC 1 (A. Keogh (64 pen)) HT 0-0

P W D L F A GD Pts

Western Sydney Wanderers 21 11 5 5 35 27 +8 38

Adelaide United 21 10 6 5 33 25 +8 36

Brisbane Roar 21 10 5 6 35 32 +3 35

Melbourne City 21 9 5 7 51 38 +13 32

Melbourne Victory 21 8 6 7 31 26 +5 30

Sydney FC 21 7 9 5 27 23 +4 30

Perth Glory 21 8 4 9 36 34 +2 28

Newcastle Jets 21 7 5 9 21 31 -10 26

Wellington Phoenix 21 6 4 11 29 38 -9 22

Central Coast Mariners 21 3 3 15 26 50 -24 12