R15 Review: Melbourne Victory closing in on Sydney

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

HAL Round Review

Melbourne Victory closed the gap on Hyundai A-League table-toppers Sydney FC in a dramatic clash with Brisbane Roar in the middle weekend in January, with all the scoring coming in the first half in front of 21,103 fans at AAMI Park, as the home team prevailed by the odd goal in five.

Melbourne got off to a flying start, and were three goals to the good inside the first half-hour. James Troisi’s superb free-kick was followed by a Marco Rojas strike before Besart Berisha buried a penalty, with the scorer of the first goal having a hand in both these strikes.

On the half-hour, Dmitri Petratos fired Brisbane back into the contest, and how! A simply stunning thirty yard free-kick which left Melbourne ‘keeper Lawrence Thomas rooted to the spot as it exploded in the top right-hand corner of the net – quite simply, unstoppable!

Buoyed by the goal, Brisbane kept pressing, and were further rewarded when James Donachie put through his own net four minutes before half-time, by which point the visitors could have been on level terms – only a Thomas save prevented Matt McKay from bringing about parity at the end of a remarkable half.

What the second spell lacked in goals it more than made up for in drama and incident, the most controversial of which involved – almost inevitably – Berisha. Referee Chris Beath saw fit to send him off for a high arm when tangling with Luke DeVere, a decision which greatly angered the crowd, and one which was ultimately overturned by the judicial panel, meaning Berisha won’t serve a suspension.

They urged on the ten men, who responded well, Troisi hitting the post in a half in which Brisbane had their fair share of chances to equalise, but their failure to do so leaves them further adrift of the top two.

League leaders Sydney became the latest victims of the league’s draw specialists, as Western Sydney Wanderers contrived their ninth stalemate of the season in front of a staggering 40,143 fans at Allianz Stadium.

Wests’ goalkeeper, Vedran Janjetovic, had to withstand a barrage of abuse from the same Sydney fans who used to cheer him prior to his transfer to their cross-town rivals, and both he and his replacement in goal for Sydney, Danny Vukovic, were largely responsible for ensuring this match ended in a scoreless draw.

Vukovic’s double-save late on in the contest, which denied Jaushua Sotirio and Nico Martinez, was the pick of them all, but Sydney’s ‘keeper should have had to face a penalty half-way through the first half, when Michael Zullo’s arm clearly blocked the progress of a Martinez shot bound for the far corner of the net.

Referee Peter Green deemed it unintentional, however, much to the ire of Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic, who saw his team drop to eighth in the table on the back of this result and Wellington Phoenix’s first win of 2017.

The fit-again Michael McGlinchey marked his first game since Guy Fawkes Day by rifling home a ninth minute winner against his old employers, Central Coast Mariners, at Westpac Stadium, where 6,061 fans witnessed a 1-0 win for the home team.

That result leaves Central Coast propping up the table, a result of one of the shock scorelines of the season in the opening game of the round. Adelaide United, without a win to their name in this campaign, put that to rights in front of 10,607 fans at Coopers Stadium, as they came from behind to stun Melbourne City 2-1.

A routine away win looked to be on the cards when Bruno Fornaroli fired City in front just four minutes into the contest, but Dylan McGowan’s leveller six minutes later inspired the reigning champions on a stifling night in Adelaide.

A succession of chances at both ends of the park followed – Sergio Cirio missed an open goal for United just shy of the hour mark – before the home team finally got their noses in front three minutes from time, Mark Ochieng’s counter-attacking strike suffice to earn Adelaide their first three-point haul of the season. Remarkable!

On Sunday evening, Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory battled out a 2-2 draw in front of 9,174 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium, where referee Stephen Lucas made himself the centre of attention by booking eight players before dismissing Perth captain Rostyn Griffiths for his second bookable offence late in the contest.

Griffiths promptly told the official what he thought of his performance, to which referee Lucas responded by brandishing the red card again – not often you see a player sent off twice in the same match!

The game had begun swimmingly for Perth, with Adam Taggart opening the scoring just seven minutes into the contest. Andy Keogh went desperately close soon after, before Chris Harold hit the bar with a header.

Newcastle somehow restricted their rivals for a top-five finish to just the one goal, and got back on level terms via Mateo Poljak’s penalty eight minutes before half-time – another controversial decision from referee Lucas, given Morten Nordstrand appeared to go to ground a little too easily under Shane Lowry’s challenge.

Right on half-time, the home team took the lead through Andrew Nabbout, a goal which prompted an all-out assault from Perth early in the second spell. Diego Castro twice hit the woodwork before Keogh levelled the scores again in the 56th minute.

Both teams went hammer and tongs in search of a winner in the final half-hour, with Jack Duncan’s one-on-one save from Taggart nine minutes from time ensuring Newcastle would earn a point from a highly entertaining affair between the two teams who presently occupy the last two play-off spots.

Wellington and Melbourne Victory meet at Westpac Stadium on Tuesday evening in a seventh round fixture rescheduled from November due to earthquake damage at the venue. The home team will play their third match in eight days at Westpac on Saturday night, with Brisbane crossing the Tasman.

Prior to that match, Melbourne City and Central Coast clash at AAMI Park on Thursday night, while twenty-four hours later, Sydney and Adelaide meet at Allianz Stadium.

Perth and Melbourne Victory lock horns at NIB Stadium on Saturday evening, while the clash of Western Sydney and Newcastle, at Campbelltown Stadium, closes out the round.

Match details:

Adelaide United FC 2 (D. McGowan (10), M. Ochieng (87)) – Melbourne City FC 1 (B. Fornaroli (4)); HT 2-1

Melbourne Victory FC 3 (J. Troisi (12), M. Rojas (17), B. Berisha (27 pen)) – Brisbane Roar FC 2 (D. Petratos (30), “oggie” (41)); HT 3-2

Newcastle Jets FC 2 (M. Poljak (37 pen), A. Nabbout (45)) – Perth Glory FC 2 (A. Taggart (7), A. Keogh (56)); HT 2-1

Sydney FC 0 – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0

Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (M. McGlinchey (9)) – Central Coast Mariners FC 0; HT 1-0

Ladder:
P W D L F A GD Pts

Sydney FC 15 11 4 0 34 7 +27 37
Melbourne Victory 14 10 2 2 35 16 +19 32
Melbourne City 15 6 5 4 24 20 +4 23
Brisbane Roar 15 5 6 4 20 20 0 21
Perth Glory 15 4 6 5 26 30 -4 18
Newcastle Jets 15 4 5 6 22 26 -4 17
—————————————–
Wellington Phoenix 14 4 3 7 15 20 -5 15
Western Sydney Wanderers 15 2 9 4 17 24 -7 15
Adelaide United 15 2 4 9 12 26 -14 10
Central Coast Mariners 15 2 4 9 16 32 -16 10

Other review information

W-League ‘Round’  12  Details

Canberra United FC 7 (Ash Sykes 6’, 20’, 45+1’, 46’, Steph Ochs 22’, Grace Maher 36’, Hayley Raso 49’) – Perth Glory FC 2 (Vanessa DiBernardo 57’, Sam Kerr 80’)

Adelaide United FC 10 (Racheal Quigley 19’, 69’, Adriana Jones 28’, 65’, 83’, Sofia Huerta 49’, 77’, 78’, Alexandra Chidiac 74’, Ally Ladas 89’) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Sarah Willacy O.G. 17’, Erica Halloway 59’)

Newcastle United Jets FC 2 (Summer O’Brien O.G. 10’, Jen Hoy 92’) – Brisbane Roar FC 1 (Tameka Butt 45’)

Melbourne Victory FC 2 (Natasha Dowie 1’, Christine Nairn 31’) – Melbourne City FC 0

Sydney FC  – BYE

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

National Youth League Round 9 Details
http://www.y-league.com.au/