R25 Review: Three Leaders in round highlights tightness at Top

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

The Hyundai A-League was led by three teams throughout the course of 25th round action on Easter weekend, with incumbents Western Sydney Wanderers succeeded by, initially, Brisbane Roar then Melbourne City before the fun and games concluded on Easter Monday night.

Melbourne Victory maintained the recent trend of knocking off the league leaders by downing Western Sydney 2-0 in front of 20,097 fans at AAMI Park on Good Friday.

Oliver Bozanic gave the home team the ideal start when netting in the third minute, and doubled their advantage half-way through the second spell to clinch the points for the home team over opponents who dominated in between times, but couldn’t find a way past Melbourne ‘keeper Lawrence Thomas.

That opened the door for Brisbane to return to the top of the table twenty-four hours later, and in doing so, they all but ended Sydney FC’s play-off hopes, coming from behind to down the visitors 3-2 in front of 14,897 fans at Suncorp Stadium.

Filip Holosko opened the scoring a tad against the run of play for Sydney in the 24th minute, but Brisbane turned that round inside the next twelve minutes, two goals in four minutes from Dimitri Petratos – which had more than a hint of handball about it – and Jamie MacLaren giving the home team the lead.

It was an advantage they retained for some time, but only by virtue of Ali Abbas’ splendid twenty-five yard free-kick hitting the post eight minutes into the second half. Sydney’s equaliser eventually came, Holosko netting three minutes from time to set up a grandstand finish.

Brisbane responded straight from the kick-off, substitutes Tommy Oar and Henrique combining for the latter to clinch the points and leave Sydney to contemplate the likelihood of their season concluding in a fortnight’s time.

Prior to Brisbane’s triumph, Perth Glory scored a 2-1 victory over Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium which left the top five teams covered by just two points early on Easter Saturday evening.

The 7,569 fans had to be patient when it came to the goal celebrations, but there was more action crammed inside the last twenty minutes of the match than there had been in the seventy preceding minutes.

Krisztian Vadocz opened the scoring for the visitors twenty minutes from time, and looked to have the game wrapped up fifteen minutes later when Nigel Boogaard was shown a straight red card for felling Andy Keogh in the penalty area.

The striker picked himself up, dusted himself down and drilled home the spot-kick to equal a National League record of scoring in seven successive matches. That gave Perth a two-goal advantage, but the drama was far from over.

For the visitors were reduced to ten men in stoppage time, Dino Djulbic committing his second bookable offence in a penalty area incident which prompted referee Kris Griffiths-Jones to point to the spot for the second time in five minutes.

Mateo Poljak potted the penalty to reduce the arrears for Newcastle, but time ran out on the home team’s hopes of snatching a point as Perth claimed their ninth win in ten games – a phenomenal run of form in anyone’s language.

On Easter Sunday, Adelaide United came from behind to down Central Coast Mariners 4-2 in front of 10,269 fans at Coopers Stadium, where Roy O’Donovan topped and tailed the scoring for the visiting team.

His opener came just after the quarter-hour, while the goal which wrapped up the day’s action seven minutes from time was well worth the admission money and then some – a textbook hip-turn volley which fair ripped past United ‘keeper Eugene Galekovic.

Sadly for the visitors, it was of consolation value only, because by that stage Adelaide were well on top, three goals in a ten minute spell from Isaias, Stefan Mauk – a superb solo effort – and Bruce Djite putting the home team in the driving seat by half-time, and well before substitute Pablo Sanchez made absolutely certain of the points from the penalty spot nine minutes from time.

Which left the final game of the round, and the chance for Melbourne City to top the standings with just two rounds remaining. It’s a chance they grabbed with both hands, sweeping Wellington Phoenix aside 3-0 in front of 9,895 fans at AAMI Park to take the lead on goal difference from Brisbane.

City dominated the first spell, and but for the exploits of Glen Moss would have enjoyed the advantage far sooner than the 43rd minute, when Harry Novillo finally broke the deadlock following a brilliant piece of skill from Bruno Fornaroli.

The league’s leading marksman wasn’t to be denied his 21st goal of the season in this match, the strike coming in the 66th minute but only after Moss had saved Fornaroli’s penalty – the Uruguayan got lucky with the rebound as City became the first team in A-League history to score sixty goals in the course of regular season play.

There was no luck involved with regard to his second strike of the evening, a stunning goal ten minutes from time which, as well as boasting an outstanding finish from twenty yards, also featured some splendid creative work by Nick Fitzgerald in the build-up.

Next weekend’s action sees Wests hosting Central Coast at Pirtek Stadium on Friday evening, while Wellington welcome Melbourne Victory to Westpac Stadium on Saturday night, prior to Sydney’s clash with Adelaide at Allianz Stadium.

Sunday night’s action kicks off with Brisbane entertaining Newcastle at Suncorp Stadium before Perth and Melbourne City wrap up the penultimate round of round-robin action when they lock horns at NIB Stadium.

Match details:

Adelaide United 4 (Isaias (29), S. Mauk (35), B. Djite (38), P. Sanchez (81 pen)), Central Coast Mariners 2 (R. O’Donovan (16, 83)) HT 3-1

Brisbane Roar 3 (D. Petratos (32), J. MacLaren (36), Henrique (88)), Sydney FC 2 (F. Holosko (24, 87)) HT 2-1

Melbourne City 3 (H. Novillo (43), B. Fornaroli (66, 80)), Wellington Phoenix 0 HT 1-0

Melbourne Victory 2 (O. Bozanic (3, 66)), Western Sydney Wanderers 0 HT 1-0

Newcastle Jets 1 (M. Poljak (90 pen)), Perth Glory 2 (K. Vadocz (72), A. Keogh (88 pen)) HT 0-0

P    W    D    L    F    A    GD    Pts

Melbourne City    25    13    5    7    61    39    +22    44

Brisbane Roar    25    13    5    7    47    39    +8    44

Adelaide United    25    12    7    6    41    28    +13    43

Western Sydney Wanderers    25    12    6    7    38    32    +6    42

Perth Glory    25    12    4    9    46    36    +10    40

Melbourne Victory    25    10    7    8    36    32    +4    37

Sydney FC    25    7    10    8    32    34    -2    31

Newcastle Jets    25    7    6    12    23    37    -14    27

Wellington Phoenix    25    7    4    14    33    48    -15    25

Central Coast Mariners    25    3    4    18    30    62    -32    13