R10 Review: Sydney maintain buffer as top four strengthen grip
By Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com
HAL Round Review
Sydney FC maintained their six-point buffer in the Hyundai A-League on the penultimate weekend before Christmas as the top four teams took advantage of a shock defeat for fifth-placed Perth Glory to consolidate their play-off spot positions.
Only 14,668 fans made the trek to ANZ Stadium to witness Friday’s top-of-the-table clash, and they saw Sydney’s ten men rebuff Melbourne City’s efforts to halve the league leaders’ six-point advantage as the FFA Cup finalists fought out a 1-1 draw, at times literally.
There were a few gatherings of the clans in this one, but it was Sydney who should have gone to the dressing rooms in front, having dominated proceedings. Rhyan Grant had a goal ruled out by the offside flag, while Sebastian Ryall had penalty claims turned away by referee Kris Griffiths-Jones, in favour of a free-kick to the home team for another foul in the same attack.
In between times, Nicolas Colazo hit the post with a free-kick for the visitors, after which Fernando Brattan, later to blot his copybook with a dive of Swan Lake quality, opened the scoring for City with a screamer on the half-hour.
Sydney continued to impress however, even after losing Joshua Brilliante to his second bookable offence seventeen minutes from time. They gained their reward for their attacking enterprise eight minutes later, Bobo earning the home team a deserved share of the spoils from the penalty spot to complete the scoring in a testy tussle.
That result allowed the leaders to maintain their six-point advantage over City, who now have cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory breathing down their necks after a Besart Berisha hat-trick inspired them to a 3-0 victory over Western Sydney Wanderers in front of 16,231 fans at ANZ Stadium on Saturday evening.
The lethal striker’s clinical finishing was the difference between the sides, with the home team squandering their fair share of chances to register on the scoreboard, no one more so than Brendon Santalab.
The spectacle was marred somewhat in the second spell by a second half challenge which saw Jai Ingham’s knee connect with the face of Wests’ defender Jonathan Aspropotamitis, an incident which saw the Melbourne player escape with a booking.
The upset of the round came at NIB Stadium, where Newcastle Jets came from behind to stun Perth Glory 2-1 in front of 9,202 fans, recording just their second win of the season in the process.
All appeared in order for Perth when Nebojsa Marinkovic potted a seventh minute opener, but after that it went pear-shaped for the home team, who were heavily reliant on Liam Reddy’s exploits to keep the score down, such was Newcastle’s dominance.
Andrew Hoole levelled the scores half-way through the first half before an own goal on the stroke of half-time gave the visitors a lead they never looked like relinquishing – they were good value for the three points.
Brisbane Roar took full advantage of Perth’s plight to open up a five-point gap between the teams on Sunday evening, a result of hammering reigning champions Adelaide United 4-0 in front of 15,605 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
The visitors were well out of sorts throughout proceedings, only going close to finding the net when Iacopa La Rocca hit the crossbar with a header half-way through the second spell, by which time they had already conceded three goals.
Thomas Kristensen’s quick-fire double in three minutes around the half-hour mark was supplemented by a Thomas Broich strike ten minutes into the second spell, with Jamie Maclaren wrapping up the scoring from the penalty spot five minutes from time.
Wellington Phoenix parted ways with coach Ernie Merrick at the start of the week, the long-serving A-League coach opting to step down from the role after his charges had slumped to their sixth defeat of the season in eight matches.
As so often happens in such situations, those ultimately responsible for Merrick’s unexpected manoeuvre, the players, produced a rock-solid display in their next match, with Central Coast Mariners put to the sword by a 3-0 scoreline in front of just 5,234 fans at FMG Stadium in Hamilton, a new venue for A-League football.
Costa Barbarouses gave Wellington the perfect start, scoring after just 79 seconds. He went close to scoring twice more before the interval, while the recalled Hamish Watson hit both post and crossbar in the second spell as the home team piled on the pressure.
Half-way through the second spell, Vince Lia unleashed a surefire ‘Goal of the Season’ contender as he fired a snorter into the top far corner of the net to double Wellington’s lead, which was bolstered in stoppage time by Roy Krishna’s counter-attacking strike, as Central Coast got hit on the break as they sought a late consolation goal.
The final full round of A-League action prior to Christmas kicks off with the clash of Newcastle and Adelaide at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday evening, while on Saturday night, Wellington welcomes Western Sydney to Auckland’s Mt. Smart Stadium.
Later that evening, it’s the Melbourne derby at AAMI Park, while Perth and Sydney square off at NIB Stadium in the last match of a Saturday night triple-header. Central Coast and Brisbane wrap up the round when they meet at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday evening.
Brisbane Roar FC 4 (T. Kristensen (28, 30), T. Broich (55), J. Maclaren (85 pen)) – Adelaide United FC 0; HT 2-0
Perth Glory FC 1 (N. Marinkovic (7)) – Newcastle Jets FC 2 (A. Hoole (21), “oggie” (45)); HT 1-2
Sydney FC 1 (Bobo (81 pen)) – Melbourne City FC 1 (F. Brattan (31)); HT 0-1
Wellington Phoenix FC 3 (C. Barbarouses (2), V. Lia (66), R. Krishna (90)) – Central Coast Mariners FC 0; HT 1-0
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0 – Melbourne Victory FC 3 (B. Berisha (32, 66, 82)); HT 0-1
P W D L F A GD Pts
Sydney FC 10 7 3 0 21 4 +17 24
Melbourne City 10 5 3 2 16 11 +5 18
Melbourne Victory 9 5 2 2 20 10 +10 17
Brisbane Roar 10 4 5 1 13 10 +3 17
Perth Glory 10 3 3 4 17 19 -2 12
Western Sydney Wanderers 10 2 5 3 13 19 -6 11
Newcastle Jets 10 2 3 5 11 15 -4 9
Wellington Phoenix 9 3 0 6 9 14 -5 9
Central Coast Mariners 10 2 3 5 10 20 -10 9
Adelaide United 10 1 3 6 9 17 -8 6
Other review information
W-League Round 6 Details
Melbourne City FC 1 (Beverly Yanez 53’) – Canberra United FC 2 (Jenna McCormick 49’, Karly Roestbakken 84’)
Brisbane Roar FC 3 (Katrina Gorry 4’, Tameka Butt 12’, Allira Toby 49’) – Adelaide United FC 2 (Adriana Jones 59’, Sofia Huerta 74’ pen)
Melbourne Victory FC 2 (Jada Whyman 2’ O.G., Kariah White 84’) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Sarah Yatim 61’, Katie Stengel 91’)
Perth Glory FC 1 (Sam Kerr 18’) – Sydney FC 0
Newcastle United Jets FC – BYE
National Youth League Round 5 Details