R22 Review: From Last To First – Adelaide now top of A-League

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

Adelaide United completed a meteoric last-to-first rise up the Hyundai A-League table on the first weekend in March, and find themselves on top of the pile after extending their unbeaten run to fourteen games thanks to a 4-0 drubbing of Wellington Phoenix.

Dylan McGowan fired home the opener from close range upon being left unmarked following a corner, while Stefan Mauk scored a splendid second five minutes before half-time, storming upfield to support a counter-attack which culminated in Marcelo Carrusca setting up the midfielder with just Glen Moss to beat.

Bruce Djite made it three four minutes into the second half, after Carrusca’s raking cross-field ball rewarded Craig Goodwin’s blindside run to the by-line, while Pablo Sanchez wrapped up the scoring in stoppage time at Westpac Stadium.

Mauk had had a goal harshly disallowed in between times, while the closest the 6,595 present had something to cheer about was when Roly Bonevacia hit the post with a free-kick for Wellington eighteen minutes from time.

That United are top is a result of incumbent table-toppers Western Sydney Wanderers being rolled by Brisbane Roar, who came from behind to secure a thrilling 3-2 victory in front of 13,157 fans at Suncorp Stadium.

Jamie MacLaren afforded Brisbane the perfect start when opening the scoring after five minutes, and things stayed that will until all hell broke loose inside the last sixteen minutes.

Michael Theo handed Wests a lifeline when conceding a needless penalty, and Andreu wasted little time in restoring parity. Four minutes later, Wests took the lead, Romeo Castelen gifted the goal after two Brisbane defenders collided in their efforts to clear their lines.

That put the leaders on course for victory, but there were more twists in this script, starting with MacLaren’s equaliser nine minutes from time, a strike supplemented two minutes later when substitute Henrique sent Dimitri Petratos haring through to clinch all three points for Brisbane, who drew level with Wests thanks to this win – both are a point behind Adelaide.

Both Melbourne teams were in the winners’ circle this weekend, with the league’s leading marksman taking pride of place as City trounced Sydney FC 3-0 in front of a disappointing crowd of 8,584 at AAMI Park.

Sydney had no answers to Bruno Fornaroli’s hat-trick, which took him to twenty goals for the season. His first came four minutes before the end of a first half dominated by the visitors, but their inability to convert the chances they created was highlighted by Fornaroli’s lethal finishing, the striker notching his second twenty minutes from time before claiming the match ball with eight minutes still to play.

Twenty-four hours later, reigning champions Melbourne Victory overcame bottom-placed Central Coast Mariners 2-0 at Central Coast Stadium, where Besart Berisha gave the visitors a twelfth minute lead.

Just 5,032 fans were on hand to witness the clash, and saw any hopes the home team harboured of forcing their way back into the contest dealt a fatal blow when Micky Neill committed his second bookable offence three minutes into the second half.

Melbourne didn’t consolidate their numerical advantage on the scoreboard until stoppage time, when Fahid Ben Khalfallah wrapped up the scoring to leave the title-holders six points off first place with five rounds still to play.

On Monday evening, 11,260 fans saw Perth Glory mark Labour Day in Western Australia with a 2-0 victory over ten-man Newcastle Jets, who had Daniel Mullen sent off for committing two bookable offences with half-an-hour still to play.

The home team were already in control by that time, Andy Keogh having headed home the opening goal eight minutes before half-time. A minute after the interval, Gyorgy Sandor doubled Perth’s advantage in the warm conditions, a win which sees them leap-frog Sydney into the play-off places.

Despite creating numerous other chances, the home team had to settle for a two-goal win, which was threatened late on when Newcastle were awarded a penalty by referee Chris Beath, only for the official to reverse his decision and award Perth a defensive free-kick on the advice of his assistant.

The clash of Adelaide and Melbourne City on Friday night at Coopers Stadium should be a beauty, and kicks off a round which concludes on Sunday with Western Sydney’s trip to Newcastle’s Hunter Stadium.

In between times, there’s another Saturday night football feast in store, with Sydney kicking things off at Allianz Stadium against Wellington. Brisbane and Melbourne Victory provide the main course at Suncorp Stadium, while for dessert, it’s to NIB Stadium we go for Perth’s encounter with Central Coast.

Match details:

Brisbane Roar FC 3 (J. MacLaren (5, 81), D. Petratos (83)) – Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (Andreu (74 pen), R. Castelen (78)); HT 1-0

Central Coast Mariners FC 0 – Melbourne Victory FC 2 (B. Berisha (12), F. Ben Khalfallah (90)); HT 0-1

Melbourne City FC 3 (B. Fornaroli (41, 71, 82)) – Sydney FC 0; HT 1-0

Perth Glory FC 2 (A. Keogh (37), G. Sandor (46)) – Newcastle Jets FC 0; HT 1-0

Wellington Phoenix FC 0 – Adelaide United FC 4 (D. McGowan (31), S. Mauk (40), B. Djite (49), P. Sanchez (90)); HT 0-2

P W D L F A GD Pts

Adelaide United 22 11 6 5 37 25 +12 39

Western Sydney Wanderers 22 11 5 6 37 30 +7 38

Brisbane Roar 22 11 5 6 38 34 +4 38

Melbourne City 22 10 5 7 54 38 +16 35

Melbourne Victory 22 9 6 7 33 26 +7 33

Perth Glory 22 9 4 9 38 34 +4 31

Sydney FC 22 7 9 6 27 26 +1 30

Newcastle Jets 22 7 5 10 21 33 -12 26

Wellington Phoenix 22 6 4 12 29 42 -13 22

Central Coast Mariners 22 3 3 16 26 52 -26 12