R8 Review: Melbourne teams close gap on faltering Sydney
By Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com
HAL Round Review
Early season pacemakers Sydney FC are beginning to falter as the Hyundai A-League approaches the one-third mark of the campaign, but they still hold a solid four-point lead over the two Melbourne teams after the latest round of action at the end of November.
Reigning champions Adelaide United held Sydney to a scoreless draw in front of 13,179 fans at Allianz Stadium, where, as the scoreline suggests, few chances were created.
That allowed the Melbourne duo to close the gap on the table-toppers, Melbourne Victory taking their chance to do so thanks to two Marco Rojas goals, as they overcame Newcastle Jets 2-0 at AAMI Park.
18,267 fans witnessed a sluggish first half, but two goals in as many minutes from the All White inside the first ten minutes of the second spell turned the match for the home team, who saw Besart Berisha miss a sitter and had new goalkeeper Matthew Acton keep Newcastle at bay, with the assistance of a late goal-line clearance from James Donachie, and a couple of near misses by Andy Brennan for the visitors.
Melbourne City, meanwhile, made hard work of their 2-1 victory over Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park, where 10,644 fans saw referee Kurt Ams produce a display of officiating which can most politely be described as biased.
The visitors had two strong penalty claims turned down in the first half, and six players booked all told, while City, who regarded Gui Finkler’s legs as fair game throughout proceedings, got away without a single yellow card until the last ten minutes, when, like buses, three came virtually at once!
City also had a penalty denied them in a first half they dominated, with Nick Fitzgerald’s strike on the stroke of half-time the very least they deserved for the persistent pressure they produced.
Wellington were a different animal in the second spell, and deservedly equalised through Roy Krishna on the hour, the Fijian ramming home the rebound after Dean Bouzanis parried his penalty straight back to the striker.
But referee Ams wasn’t finished, awarding City a penalty twenty minutes from time which was very much a case of six of one, half a dozen of the other. He found in favour of the fouled Bruno Fornaroli, however, and the Uruguayan duly despatched what proved to be the winner, although Andrew Durante was just a stride away from levelling the scores again in the shadows of the full-time whistle.
Central Coast Mariners scored a surprise 2-0 win over Perth Glory in front of 5,296 fans at Central Coast Stadium to kick off the weekend’s action on Thursday evening, and it wasn’t undeserved.
Losing Josh Risdon – in the warm-up – and Diego Castro to injury inside the opening quarter of the game didn’t aid Perth’s cause, and the home team took full advantage, Harry Ascroft volleying home the opener on the half-hour.
Either side of the goal, Connor Pain’s pace brought more pain to Perth, who were fortunate to avoid conceding a penalty when Rhys Williams felled the fleet-footed flyer, who later had a shot at goal cleared off the line by Joseph Mills.
Roy O’Donovan doubled Central Coast’s advantage just after the hour mark, and they held on to win and, significantly, with a clean sheet – the first time the Mariners haven’t conceded a goal in thirty-six matches!
Third-placed Brisbane Roar were held to a 1-1 draw by the league’s draw specialists, Western Sydney Wanderers, in front of 11,201 fans at Spotless Stadium, who saw the home team squander a string of chances, some of which were kept out by Michael Theo, Brisbane’s ‘keeper.
Jamie Maclaren fired the visitors in front from the penalty spot after eighteen minutes, with Wests netting a deserved equaliser eleven minutes into the second spell through Jumpei Kusukami. They should have gone on to win it, but a fifth draw in eight matches was their lot.
Melbourne Victory welcomes Perth to AAMI Park on Friday evening as December registers on the calendar once more, with the same venue hosting the clash of City and Brisbane twenty-four hours later.
Central Coast and Western Sydney also converge on Gosford on Saturday night, while on Sunday, Newcastle and Sydney square off at McDonald Jones Stadium prior to the clash of Adelaide and Wellington at Coopers Stadium.
Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (H. Ascroft (30), R. O’Donovan (63)) – Perth Glory FC 0; HT 1-0
Melbourne City FC 2 (N. Fitzgerald (44), B. Fornaroli (71 pen)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (R. Krishna (59)); HT 1-0
Melbourne Victory FC 2 (M. Rojas (52, 54)) – Newcastle Jets FC 0 HT; 0-0
Sydney FC 0 – Adelaide United FC 0
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (J. Kusukami(56)) – Brisbane Roar FC 1 (J. Maclaren (18 pen)); HT 0-1
P W D L F A GD Pts
Sydney FC 8 6 2 0 18 3 +15 20
Melbourne City 8 5 1 2 14 9 +5 16
Melbourne Victory 7 4 1 2 16 9 +7 13
Brisbane Roar 8 3 4 1 8 9 -1 12
Perth Glory 8 3 2 3 15 16 -1 11
Central Coast Mariners 8 2 3 3 9 13 -4 9
Western Sydney Wanderers 8 1 5 2 9 15 -6 8
Newcastle Jets 8 1 3 4 9 12 -3 6
Wellington Phoenix 7 2 0 5 6 12 -6 6
Adelaide United 8 0 3 5 7 13 -6 3
Other review information
W-League Round 4 Details
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0 – Brisbane Roar FC 2 (Amy Chapman 28’, Tameka Butt 38’)
Canberra United FC 5 (Michelle Heyman 19’, 52’, Stephanie Ochs 33’, Grace Maher 65’, Nickoletta Flannery 92’) –
Newcastle United Jets FC 2 (Rhali Dobson 63’, Jen Hoy 88’)
Melbourne City FC 3 (Jess Fishlock 65’, 76’, Steph Catley 75’) – Melbourne Victory FC 0
Sydney FC 2 (Remy Siemsen 42’, Emily Hodgson 85’ own goal) – Adelaide United FC 0
Perth Glory FC – BYE
National Youth League Round 3 Details