R19 Review: Sydney surge eleven points clear, claim a play-off spot

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

HAL Round Review

Sydney FC have surged eleven points clear in the Hyundai A-League after a heat-affected nineteenth round of action in the competition on the second weekend in February, one which saw other results confirm the table-toppers as the first team to qualify for this season’s play-offs despite there being eight rounds still to play.

Just 8,380 fans saw Sydney sweep aside Wellington Phoenix 3-1 at the Allianz Stadium on Thursday evening, a victory for the home team which featured a certain contender for goal of the season.

Rhyan Grant headed Sydney in front just three minutes into the contest as Graham Arnold’s side bossed the first half-hour of play, the undoubted highlight of which was a quite magnificent second goal, half-way through the half, which began deep inside Sydney’s half and involved six players before Bobo headed home from eight yards.

Wellington hadn’t even looked like it in the first half-hour, but dragged themselves into the contest ten minutes through Alex Rodriguez. That they were still in sight of Sydney owes much to the efforts of goalkeeper Glen Moss, who capped his 200th A-League appearance with a stunning fingertip save to tip a Joshua Brillante thunderbolt onto the post in the shadows of the half-time whistle.

He was beaten for a third time nine minutes into the second half when the outstanding Milos Ninkovic restored Sydney’s two-goal advantage, a lead they were untroubled to retain throughout the remainder of the match as they remained on course to record an unbeaten season.

It also sent them eleven points clear of nearest challengers Melbourne Victory, who were grateful to goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas as they picked up a point from a scoreless draw at Newcastle Jets.

6,233 fans converged on McDonald Jones Stadium on Monday evening – the game had been postponed forty-eight hours due to the heatwave which crippled Australia’s east coast over the weekend – and they saw the home team dominate proceedings, only for Thomas to stop just about everything they could muster.

Amazingly, Melbourne could have pinched all three points with one of their few attacks, Daniel Georgievski hitting the post fifteen minutes from time. But Newcastle’s efforts earned them a rise to sixth spot on the table, and confirmed Sydney as the first team to be assured of a play-offs spot with eight rounds remaining.

The feature game of the round saw an under-strength Melbourne City come from two goals down to hold Brisbane Roar to a 2-2 draw in front of 7,914 fans at AAMI Park, where the home team were bereft of nine first team regulars through injury and suspension.

Brisbane, fresh from an impressive victory in China in Asian Champions League action, had command of the game come the half-time whistle thanks to two goals from Jamie Maclaren, his first coming from the penalty spot ten minutes before the interval.

After the break, City’s youthful zest took advantage of Brisbane’s travel itinerary during the week, and goals around the hour mark from Bruce Kamau and Nicolas Colazo, who potted a penalty to equalise.

Thomas Sorenson’s fine denial of Maclaren in the second spell prevented the Brisbane talisman from completing his hat-trick, and also prevented the visitors from strengthening their grip on third place, a position they retain, but with City and Perth Glory just two points behind them.

Any hope reigning champions Adelaide United held of defending their crown must surely have evaporated in the heat which delayed by an hour their clash with Perth, who pummelled their hosts 5-0 at Coopers Stadium on Friday evening.

The absence of goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic was sorely felt by United, and their cause wasn’t aided by Iacoco La Rocca putting through his net just fifteen minutes into the contest, to the disappointment of the 6,006-strong crowd.

Perth could have won by an even greater margin, but settled for inflicting upon United their heaviest ever home defeat, with Diego Castro featuring in all four remaining goals.

His first came eight minutes before half-time, and he rounded off the scoring two minutes before the end after setting up Andy Keogh’s goal on the stroke of the interval, then contributing to Adam Taggart’s strike inside the first sixty seconds of the second half.

Adelaide look racing certainties for the wooden spoon after Central Coast Mariners stunned Western Sydney Wanderers 2-0 in front of 9,618 fans at Spotless Stadium, the victors’ third successive victory which has left them on the precipice of the last play-off spot.

Wests enjoyed possession aplenty throughout the first half, and into the second, but for all the chances they created, they had nothing to show for it, the worst miss coming from substitute Brendon Santalab moments before the visitors broke the deadlock.

Roy O’Donovan did the honours, converting a penalty halfway through the second half after he’d been hauled down by Johnny Aspropotamitis. And with twelve minutes left the Irishman struck again, who rewarded Nick Montgomery’s fine approach work with the goal which silenced the natives.

Next weekend’s action kicks off on Friday night with Newcastle’s visit to Adelaide’s Coopers Stadium home. Saturday evening sees another triple-header taking place, beginning with Wellington welcoming Melbourne City to Westpac Stadium.

The Sydney derby at ANZ Stadium highlights the round, with Perth and Brisbane wrapping up Saturday’s action at NIB Stadium. On Sunday night, Central Coast and Melbourne Victory lock horns at Central Coast Stadium. No doubt league management will be looking for a marked increase on the 38,161 fans who attended the five matches in this heat-affected round.

Details:

Adelaide United FC 0 –  Perth Glory FC 5 (“oggie” (15), D. Castro (37, 88), A. Keogh (45), A. Taggart (46)); HT 0-3

Melbourne City FC 2 (B. Kamau (58), N. Colazo (61 pen)) – Brisbane Roar FC 2 (J. Maclaren (34, 45 pen)); HT 0-2

Newcastle Jets FC 0 – Melbourne Victory FC 0

Sydney FC 3 (R. Grant (3), Bobo (22), M. Ninkovic (54)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (A. Rodriguez (32)); HT 2-1

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0 – Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (R. O’Donovan (65 pen, 78)); HT 0-0

Ladder:

P W D L F A GD Pts

Sydney FC 19 14 5 0 41 9 +32 47
Melbourne Victory 19 11 3 5 39 24 +15 36
Brisbane Roar 19 7 8 4 26 23 +2 29
Melbourne City 19 7 6 6 30 27 +3 27
Perth Glory 19 7 6 6 36 35 +1 27
Newcastle Jets 19 5 6 8 26 32 -6 21
—————————————–
Western Sydney Wanderers 19 4 9 6 23 29 -6 21
Wellington Phoenix 19 5 4 10 22 29 -7 19
Central Coast Mariners 19 5 4 10 23 35 -12 19
Adelaide United 19 2 5 12 15 37 -22 11

Other review information

W-League Season 9 – Final
4:30pm, Friday 12 February, 2017 – East Perth Oval (aka NiB Stadium)

Perth Glory FC  0
lost to
Melbourne City FC  2 (Jess Fishlock 45’+1, Beverly Yanez 90’+3)

Crowd:  4,591

2016/2017 Season 9 Premiers:  Canberra United FC
2016/2017 Finals Series Champions:  Melbourne City FC

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

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