R18 Review: Leaders held as Victory stun City

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

HAL Round Review

Hyundai A-League leaders Sydney FC were held to a scoreless draw at Brisbane Roar in eighteenth round action on Waitangi weekend, which also saw Melbourne Victory score a dramatic come-from-behind 2-1 triumph over cross-town rivals Melbourne City to strengthen their prospects of a top-two finish in nine weeks time.

Both goalkeepers, Brisbane’s Michael Theo and Sydney’s Danny Vukovic, were the main reason 13,095 fans failed to see any goals at Suncorp Stadium, their exploits twixt the sticks thwarting many a goalscoring opportunity in this Friday night affair.

Both custodians required some assistance, however. Jack Hingert cleared off the line from Sydney’s Milos Ninkovic early in the second spell, while the crossbar came to the aid of Vukovic as Thomas Broich came close to breaking the deadlock just shy of the hour mark.

Jordy Buijs and Filip Holosko both squandered great chances to break the deadlock for the visitors, who remain unbeaten after eighteen games, and well on course to shatter a few A-League records before the season is done and dusted.

On Saturday evening, 35,426 fans piled into Etihad Stadium as Melbourne bragging rights went on the line. And it was the Victory faithful who had the last laugh, their team prevailing 2-1 over a City side which looked to be on course for victory until the last seven minutes of play.

Besart Berisha is invariably a central figure in these clashes, and this one was no exception, as he butchered two terrific opportunities – on a close-range air-shot, the other from the penalty spot – to give Victory the lead before the hour mark.

It looked as if his profligacy would come back to haunt him twenty minutes from time, when a Noel Kilkenny shot was deflected into his own net by Alan Baro. But Berisha would not be denied, levelling the scores six minutes from time before another “oggie” decided the outcome, City’s Manny Muscat turning a Jason Geria cross into his own net three minutes later.

Cue drama aplenty, with a raised offside flag being overruled by referee Chris Beath, whose next act entailed sending unused substitute Tim Cahill from the bench for dissent on a night Bruno Fornaroli was harshly denied the game’s opening goal on the stroke of half-time by the offside flag.

There was action aplenty out west as 12,903 fans saw Perth Glory score a 3-2 win over Newcastle Jets at NIB Stadium, where Diego Castro opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the thirteenth minute.

Andrew Hoole levelled matters eight minutes before half-time, but Castro ensured Perth went to the dressing rooms a goal to the good when restoring their advantage four minutes later.

Adam Taggart made the game safe for the home team on the hour, although they had to survive a nervous final twenty minutes after Jason Hoffman reduced the arrears with a long-range thunderbolt which gave Newcastle hope, hope which they were unable to fulfil.

Across the Tasman, A-League action graced New Plymouth’s Yarrow Stadium as Western Sydney Wanderers stunned Wellington Phoenix 3-1 in front of 5,185 fans to climb into sixth spot on the table.

Having been denied the opening goal by a harsh offside call just thirteen minutes into the contest, Brendon Santalab made amends eight minutes later to give the visitors a half-time advantage they never relinquished, the same player making it 3-0 half-way through the second half, after Nicolas Martinez doubled Wests’ lead just before the hour.

Wellington’s hopes of a late comeback were bolstered by Shane Smeltz’s penalty nineteen minutes from time, but his dismissal for a second bookable offence five minutes later quashed local hopes of a stirring recovery, one of eight yellow cards issued by inexperienced referee Adam Fielding.

On Sunday at Canberra’s GIO Stadium, the fierce heat in Australia’s capital made life challenging for Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United, whose cause was made even more so half-an-hour into the match when goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic had to depart the fray with what was diagnosed as a torn lateral muscle in his right shoulder.

The situation got worse for the reigning champions in the 37th minute, as one of the first tasks of Galekovic’s replacement, John Hall, was to fish the ball out of the net, Fabio Ferreira opening the scoring for Central Coast in a key clash at the bottom of the table.

The Mariners’ ‘keeper, Paul Izzo, also found himself in the thick of the action with regard to saves, with one, early in the second spell, leaving him with what could well be a concussion – he stopped a Sergio Cirio shot with his head.

Izzo continued, and his team-mates rallied to the task, striking a second goal through substitute Kwabena Appiah-Kubi somewhat against the run of play eleven minutes from time. United kept on pressing, but Jordan O’Doherty’s injury time strike was of consolation value only to the title-holders, for whom this 2-1 defeat means they are in danger of propping up the table one year on from their table-topping campaign.

Sydney entertain Wellington at Allianz Stadium on Thursday evening, while Adelaide welcome Perth to Coopers Stadium twenty-four hours later. Saturday’s fare sees both Melbourne teams in action, with Newcastle welcoming Victory to McDonald Jones Stadium before City and Brisbane clash in the match of the round at AAMI Park. And on Sunday night, Western Sydney and Central Coast lock horns at Spotless Stadium.

Details:

Brisbane Roar FC 0 –  Sydney FC 0
Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (F. Ferreira (37), K. Appiah-Kubi (79)) –  Adelaide United FC 1 (J. O’Doherty (90)); HT 1-0
Melbourne Victory FC 2 (B. Berisha (84), “oggie” (87)) –  Melbourne City 1 FC  (“oggie” (70)); HT 0-0
Perth Glory FC 3 (D. Castro (13 pen, 42), A. Taggart (59)) –  Newcastle Jets FC 2 (A. Hoole (37), J. Hoffman (71)); HT 2-1
Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (S. Smeltz (71 pen)) –  Western Sydney Wanderers FC 3 (B. Santalab (21, 65), N. Martinez (58)); HT 0-1

Ladder:

P W D L F A GD Pts

Sydney FC 18 13 5 0 38 8 +30 44
Melbourne Victory 18 11 2 5 39 24 +15 35
Brisbane Roar 18 7 7 4 23 21 +2 28
Melbourne City 18 7 5 6 28 25 +3 26
Perth Glory 18 6 6 6 31 35 -4 24
Western Sydney Wanderers 18 4 9 5 23 27 -4 21
———————————————————
Newcastle Jets 18 5 5 8 26 32 -6 20
Wellington Phoenix 18 5 4 9 21 26 -5 19
Central Coast Mariners 18 4 4 10 21 35 -14 16
Adelaide United 18 2 5 11 15 32 -17 11

Other review information

W-League Semi Finals

Perth Glory FC and Melbourne City FC have won through to next Sunday’s Westfield W-League 2017 Final, which will take place at nib Stadium in Perth next weekend.

Perth Glory FC  5 (Vanessa Di Bernardo 29’ pen, 77’, Alanna Kennedy 58’ O.G., Rosie Sutton 80’, Shawn Billam 93’) – Sydney FC  1 (Kyah Simon 23’)

Canberra United  FC 0 – Melbourne City FC  1 (Jess Fishlock 107’)

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

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