R13 Review: Top Two left to fight out Premiership Plate

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

HAL Round Review

Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory look set to fight out the Hyundai A-League’s Premiership Plate this season, after they scored the only victories in the New Year’s round of action in the competition.

Sydney kicked off the round in the manner to which they have become accustomed, maintaining their winning ways by seeing off third-placed Brisbane Roar 2-0 in front of 16,510 fans at Allianz Stadium, despite having opening goalscorer Alex Brosque sent off with just under thirty minutes still to play.

Brosque it was who broke the deadlock in a cagey first half ten minutes before half-time, his smart run off the ball allowing Bobo to set him up for what should have been the first of two goals in three minutes for the scorer – Michael Theo thwarted his attempt to double the league leader’s advantage.

Sydney should have had a penalty before the interval when Jack Hingert’s ball-handling went unpunished, while Brisbane were sensationally denied an equaliser on the stroke of half-time by Danny Vukovic, whose double-save to Dimitri Petratos at bay was stunning, surpassing two earlier saves he had made to frustrate the same player.

In the second half, Brisbane substitute Manuel Arana before Milos Ninkovic doubled Sydney’s advantage just after the hour mark, Bobo again the architect of the goal. Brosque committed his second bookable offence moments later, inviting Brisbane to set up camp in the home team’s half of the pitch for the duration, but they couldn’t fashion a fightback.

Melbourne Victory kept up the chase by downing Newcastle Jets 4-2 in front of 14,081 fans at Simonds Stadium in Geelong, where Besart Berisha became the most prolific scorer in A-League when potting a penalty to open the scoring on the half-hour, his 91st goal in the competition.

It was a controversial penalty, however, one of a number of dubious decisions made by referee Chris Beath, many of which were to the detriment of the visiting team, who found themselves two goals down five minutes after Berisha’s strike, Marco Rojas capping off fine build-up play to double the home team’s advantage.

Melbourne’s assistant coach, Jean Paul de Marigny, was sent from the bench before half-time as he took umbrage at one of referee Beath’s rulings, and his mood wouldn’t have been aided by the disallowing of Fahid Ben Khalfallah’s goal three minutes into the second half.

It was Newcastle’s turn to call the match official naughty names in the 56th minute, as referee Beath denied them a stonewall penalty when Carl Valeri handled a Ma Leilei cross.

Their demeanour darkened even more when Ben Khalfallah made it 3-0 to Melbourne on the hour, although straight from the kick-off, Ma reduced the deficit via a twenty-five yard missile.

But the home team restored that three-goal lead half-way through the second spell when James Troisi took full advantage of a defensive error to leave Melbourne well on course for victory.

There was still hope for Newcastle when Wayne Brown’s shot deflected in off Valeri fifteen minutes from time, but that was swiftly followed by controversy as Lawrence Thomas raced out of goal to thwart Brown’s pursuit of a clearance, only to strike his opponent as his hand made contact with the ball.

Referee Beath added further fuel to Newcastle’s fire by only booking the offending goalkeeper who, after a concerted spell of pressure from the visitors, saved a header from Newcastle’s Aleksandr Kokko on the line in stoppage time, moments after Daniel Georgievski had been denied a fifth goal for Melbourne by the offside flag.

The other three matches in the round ended in stalemates, with fourth-placed Melbourne City held to a 2-2 draw in front of 11,184 fans at Central Coast Stadium by Central Coast Mariners, who looked to be on course for a shock win until a stoppage time penalty from Bruno Fornaroli earned City a point.

Tim Cahill’s header five minutes before half-time gave the visitors an advantage they retained until the game entered its last fifteen minutes, at which point Central Coast turned things round in dramatic fashion.

Trent Buhagiar bagged the equaliser for Central Coast thirteen minutes from time, and when Roy O’Donovan headed them in front with five minutes to play, a major shock looked to be on the card in the final game of 2016. Fornaroli’s late leveller from twelve yards denied their hosts what would have been their third win of the campaign.

The league’s draw specialists added another point to their collection of stalemates this season, with 12,203 fans witnessing Western Sydney Wanderers’ 1-1 draw with Perth Glory at ANZ Stadium.

Adam Taggart opened the scoring for the visitors against the run of play in the fourteenth minute, the home team dominating proceedings throughout this contest in all aspects of the game bar the scoreboard.

They finally got on that half-way through the second half courtesy substitute Jaushua Sotirio, but that was the lone occasion upon which their creativity had an end product, much to the frustration of all associated with the “Wanderland” outfit.

Across the Tasman, Wellington Phoenix’s return to Westpac Stadium coincided with bleak Wellington weather to mark their New Year’s Day encounter with Adelaide United, which ended in a scoreless draw.

5,548 witnessed a largely tame encounter, with the exploits of Eugene Galekovic ensuring the visitors emerged from the clash with another point to their name as they strive to climb off the bottom of the table, their eighth-placed opponents being the only side not to have beaten Adelaide so far this season.

Perth welcome Wellington to NIB Stadium for a Thursday night encounter to kick off the round which marks the half-way mark in the season. Twenty-four hours later, Melbourne City and Western Sydney lock horns at AAMI Park.

Saturday’s fare sees Brisbane and Newcastle locking horns at Suncorp Stadium, prior to the clash of Adelaide and Melbourne Victory at Coopers Stadium, while on Sunday evening, Central Coast take on Sydney at Central Coast Stadium.

Match details:

Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (T. Buhagiar (77), R. O’Donovan (85)) – Melbourne City FC 2 (T. Cahill (40), B. Fornaroli (90 pen)); HT 0-1

Melbourne Victory FC 4 (B. Berisha (30 pen), M. Rojas (35), F. Ben Khalfallah (60), J. Troisi (69)) – Newcastle United Jets FC 2 (M. Leilei (61), “oggie” (76)); HT 2-0

Sydney FC 2 (A. Brosque (35), M. Ninkovic (62)) – Brisbane Roar FC 0; HT 1-0

Wellington Phoenix FC 0 –  Adelaide United FC 0

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (J. Sotirio (67)) – Perth Glory FC 1 (A. Taggart (14)) HT 0-1

Ladder:
P W D L F A GD Pts
Sydney FC 13 10 3 0 31 5 +26 33
Melbourne Victory 12 8 2 2 30 14 +16 26
Brisbane Roar 13 5 6 2 16 14 +2 21
Melbourne City 13 5 5 3 22 18 +4 20
Perth Glory 13 3 5 5 22 27 -5 14
Western Sydney Wanderers 13 2 8 3 17 23 -6 14
———————————————————
Newcastle Jets 13 3 4 6 17 22 -5 13
Wellington Phoenix 12 3 3 6 13 18 -5 12
Central Coast Mariners 13 2 4 7 14 28 -14 10
Adelaide United 13 1 4 8 10 23 -13 7

Other review information

W-League ‘Round’  9  Details

Melbourne Victory FC 1 (Natasha Dowie 30’) – Canberra United FC 2 (Nickoletta Flannery 53’, Ashleigh Sykes 88’ pen)

Adelaide United FC 2 (Adriana Jones 14’, Alexandra Chidiac 46’) – Newcastle Jets FC 2 (Jenna Kingsley 22’, 52’ pen)

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (Katie Stengel 24’) – Sydney FC 2 (Alanna Kennedy 35’, Kyah Simon 84’ pen)

BYE – Brisbane Roar FC, Melbourne City FC, Perth Glory FC

W-League ‘Round’  10  Details

Brisbane Roar FC 1 (Amy Chapman 42’) – Melbourne Victory FC 4 (Laura Spiranovic 18’, Natasha Dowie 45’, 72’, 93’)

Perth Glory FC 1 (Sam Kerr 69’) – Newcastle United Jets FC 1 (Jenna Kingsley 46’)

Melbourne City FC 1 (Jess Fishlock 26’) – Adelaide United FC 1 (Racheal Quigley 70’)

Sydney FC 6 (Nicola Bolger 16’, Remy Siemsen 25’, 56’, Kyah Simon 52’, Francisca Ordega 68’, Leena Khamis 81’) -Canberra United FC 1 (Yukari Kinga 65’)

Western Sydney Wanderers FC – BYE

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

National Youth League Round 7 Details
http://www.y-league.com.au/