R9 Review: Melbourne draws allow Sydney to stretch lead again

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

HAL Round Review

Four of the top five teams met each other in ninth round action in the Hyundai A-League over the first weekend in December, and there was nothing to separate them after both matches, which took place at AAMI Park, ended in 1-1 stalemates.

Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory kicked things off in front of 16,017 fans on Friday evening, with the outcome frustrating the home team, who had enough chances to win three matches.

After Andy Keogh had fired the visitors in front in the seventeenth minute, a goal which made him Perth’s all-time top scorer in A-League football, Marco Rojas saw Liam Reddy tip a shot onto the post, while three Melbourne goals were ruled out by the offside flag on a night James Troisi hit the post and Fahid Ben Khalfallah spurned two sitters.

There were numerous other misses, but they finally got back on terms in the 41st minute thanks to Besart Berisha’s close-range volley, which earned the home team a point, although they will rightly look back on this match as two points dropped.

Twenty-four hours later, the outcome was the same, but only 8,394 fans were on hand to see Melbourne City and Brisbane Roar battle to a 1-1 draw in a decidedly tempestuous affair.

City, who edged Sydney FC 1-0 in the FFA Cup Final during the week, found themselves trailing at half-time, Jamie Maclaren firing Brisbane in front seven minutes before the break after missing numeous opportunities to do so prior.

They would have gone on to win the game- they certainly had the chances to do so – had Jade North not been a very silly boy, going to ground clutching his face after diving following a clash with Bruno Fornaroli, who didn’t make contact with the defender’s upper body – it wouldn’t surprise if North copped a sanction for his actions.

Incensed, Melbourne equalised ten minutes into the second half through Nicolas Colazo, a strike which brought great delight to the players as well as the natives, although goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis overstepped the mark with his celebrations, one of many players to incur the wrath of referee Shaun Evans in this testy tussle.

Those results allowed Sydney the chance to recapture their six-point advantage at the top of the table, one they took by beating Newcastle Jets 2-0 on Sunday evening, in front of 8,473 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Fine second half goals from Milos Ninkovic and Bernie Ibini-Isei got the league leaders’ season back on track after a couple of wobbles, and condemned injury-hit Newcastle to a seventh successive match without a win.

Western Sydney Wanderers were on a similar run going into their clash at Central Coast Mariners, but they ended that sequence at six by producing a come-from-behind 4-1 win in front of 11,075 fans at Central Coast Stadium, despite playing the last half-hour with just ten men on the park.

Goalkeeper Jarrad Tyson was the player sent to test the shower water by referee Kris Griffiths-Jones, who considered he denied Trent Buhagiar a goalscoring opportunity when the Mariners’ man burst through looking to halve the deficit.

For the visitors were leading 3-1 by this time, having suffered an early setback when Blake Powell battered home the opener just five minutes into the contest. Central Coast were still celebrating when Jumpei Kusukami went straight up the other end and levelled the scores within sixty seconds.

Nicolas Martinez’s diving header on the half-hour put Wests in front, an advantage they were fortunate to retain by half-time, with Roy O’Donovan just a post-width away from levelling the scores.

Five minutes into the second spell, Central Coast were in big trouble when Jake McGing inadvertently turned a cross into his own net, and their day was done three minutes from time, Brendon Santalab wrapping up the points for Wests, who moved into the play-off spots with this welcome win.

It wasn’t half as welcome as that recorded by reigning champions Adelaide United, however. They delighted the 8,539 fans who piled into Coopers Stadium on Sunday night by downing Wellington Phoenix 2-0, thanks to a couple of Henrique rockets.

The visitors spurned a great chance to open the scoring half-way through the first half when Roy Krishna saw his penalty saved by Eugene Galekovic, after which Henrique hit two unstoppable strikes – from twenty and twenty-five yards respectively – either side of the half-hour mark to put the title-holders on course for victory.

Both teams had goals ruled out for various offences in the second spell, and there were a few gatherings of the clans as well, with inexperienced referee Stephen Lucas issuing a few cards which were hard to justify on replay.

The result sent Wellington back to the bottom of the table, and propelled Adelaide up to eighth, although they’ll have to go some to catch Sydney at this stage of proceedings, with seventeen points the gap between the leaders and the bottom three a third of they way into the campaign.

Friday night’s match to kick off tenth round action in the A-League should be a doozie, with the top two meeting at ANZ Stadium, twenty-four hours before Western Sydney and Melbourne Victory meet at the same venue.

Sandwiching that match – there are three games on Saturday – are the clashes of Wellington and  Central Coast, who meet at FMG Stadium in Hamilton NZ, and Perth and Newcastle, who lock horns at NIB Stadium in Perth. On Sunday evening, Brisbane welcome Adelaide to Suncorp Stadium.

Details:

Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (B. Powell (5)) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 4 (J. Kusukami (6), N. Martinez (31),“oggie” (50), B. Santalab (87)); HT 1-2

Melbourne City FC 1 (N. Colazo (55)) – Brisbane Roar FC 1 (J. Maclaren (38)); HT 0-1

Melbourne Victory FC 1 (B. Berisha (41)) – Perth Glory FC 1 (A. Keogh (17)); HT 1-1

Newcastle United Jets FC 0 – Sydney FC 2 (M. Ninkovic (63), B. Ibini-Isei (79)); HT 0-0

Adelaide United FC 2 (Henrique (26, 39)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 0; HT 2-0

Ladder:
P W D L F A GD Pts

Sydney FC 9 7 2 0 20 3 +17 23
Melbourne City 9 5 2 2 15 10 +5 17
Melbourne Victory 8 4 2 2 17 10 +7 14
Brisbane Roar 9 3 5 1 9 10 -1 14
Perth Glory 9 3 3 3 16 17 -1 12
Western Sydney Wanderers 9 2 5 2 13 16 -3 11
————————————————
Central Coast Mariners 9 2 3 4 10 17 -7 9
Adelaide United 9 1 3 5 9 13 -4 6
Newcastle Jets 9 1 3 5 9 14 -5 6
Wellington Phoenix 8 2 0 6 6 14 -8 6

Postscript:  It was announced on Monday 5 December that Ernie Merrick has stepped down from his position as Wellington Phoenix FC Head Coach.

Other review information

W-League Round 5 Details

Adelaide United FC 2 (Racheal Quigley 32’, Hannah Brewer 54’ O.G.) – Canberra United FC 2 (Ellie Brush 26’, Hayley Raso 83’)

Newcastle United Jets FC 1 (Jen Hoy 47’) – Sydney FC 2 (Kyah Simon 17’ pen, Nicola Bolger 47’)

Melbourne Victory FC 0 – Perth Glory FC 2 (Rosie Sutton 17’, Vanessa DiBernardo 65’)

Brisbane Roar FC 1 (Katrina Gorry 2’) – Melbourne City FC 2 (Jess Fishlock 6’, Erika Tymrak 25’)

Western Sydney Wanderers FC – BYE

Ladder:
http://www.w-league.com.au/ladder

National Youth League Round 4 Details
http://www.y-league.com.au/