R23 Review: Home wins all around as Season end draws nearer

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

Split Round 23 Review

Sydney FC’s 1-0 win over Central Coast Mariners, which kicked off the split-round of Hyundai A-League action on March 10, the round concluding nine days later with all five teams playing on home turf recording victories.

Filip Holosko’s eighth minute goal separated the sides at Allianz Stadium, where 11,148 fans saw Bernie Ibini-Isei’s 75th minute penalty saved by Ivan Necevski, who also kept out efforts from, amongst others, Rhyan Grant.

Ibini-Isei also hit the crossbar for Sydney, who did enough to win their seventeenth game of the season as Central Coast’s hopes of clinching a play-off place receded still further.

Anything other than a win by Melbourne Victory would have seen Sydney secure the Premiership Plate in this round, but Kevin Muscat’s team came from behind to pummel Perth Glory 4-1 and all but secure a top-two finish in the process.

Diego Castro opened the scoring against the run of play just five minutes into this AAMI Park encounter, but, urged on by the 16,814-strong crowd, Besart Berisha headed Melbourne’s equaliser half-way through the first half.

The game was put beyond Perth in a period of play encompassing three minutes either side of half-time. Fahid Ben Khalfallah headed Melbourne in front in the 42nd minute, and by the time Marco Rojas extended their advantage in the 48th minute, the visitors had twice had strong penalty claims turned away by referee Kurt Ams, who booked half the Perth team in this encounter to further incense Kenny Lowe’s charges.

James Troisi put the result beyond doubt with a thumping finish seventeen minutes from time, and while Perth did their level best to reduce the deficit, they remain well in contention for the play-offs, despite this result.

Melbourne City consolidated their third placing by trouncing Newcastle Jets 4-0 in front of 8,949 fans at AAMI Park, where Tim Cahill opened the scoring with a headed twelfth minute effort.

It wasn’t until the 65th minute that City consolidated their dominance, Nick Fitzgerald – on as a replacement for Cahill – doubling their advantage. Bruno Fornaroli then took charge of the goalscoring, potting a penalty fifteen minutes from time before doubling his tally for the evening six minutes later on a night Newcastle offered very little attack-wise.

Brisbane Roar, however, slumped to a shock 2-1 loss at Adelaide United, whose winning goal, a 98th minute penalty from Sergio Cirio, clinched the points for the outgoing champions from a match which was rather eventful, to put it mildly.

There was no indications that would get out of hand early on, with Baba Diawara potting the opener for Adelaide in the sixteenth minute, to the delight of the 7,197-strong crowd.

Jamie Maclaren’s equaliser on the hour set up a thrilling conclusion, which looked to be heading Brisbane’s way when Marcelo Carrusca was sent off for committing his second bookable offence eight minutes from time.

But they couldn’t take advantage of their numerical superiority, and deep in stoppage time, found themselves reduced to ten men in remarkable circumstances. Goalkeeper Michael Theo made a mess of dealing with a cross, and by the time he had regained control of the ball, Dylan McGowan was all over him like a rash.

The Adelaide player suddenly went down, clutching his face, and a replay suggested that goalkeeper Theo had caught with his arm while attempting to shrug off his opponent in getting to his feet.

Referee Stephen Lucas deemed it a sending-off offence, as well as a penalty, and after the ensuing on-field madness had waned, Cirio sent replacement goalkeeper Thomas Kristensen – Brisbane had used all their substitutes – the wrong way to win the match.

There were plenty of afters, however, about which you are certain to hear more, particularly where the alleged actions of Brisbane’s assistant coach, Ross Aloisi, are concerned. There’s every possibility his season may conclude a lot earlier than anyone had anticipated.

Western Sydney Wanderers consolidated their play-offs place by convincingly downing an at times abject Wellington Phoenix 3-1 in front of x fans at Spotless Stadium, where the home team began like a house on fire and could very easily have been four goals up after fifteen minutes.

Instead, they had to settle for one goal, a perfectly placed Nicolas Martinez effort capping off a fine move which he started, and which followed a post-shaker from Jumpei Kusukami, and preceded a superb save by Glen Moss which kept out Jack Clisby’s dipping volley.

Wellington weren’t at the races, and they fell further behind six minutes before half-time when Brendon Santalab’s sizzling drive proved too hot for Moss to handle as it arrowed towards the far corner of the net.

A superb reflex save by Vedran Janjetovic denied a Costa Barbarouses shot which deflected wickedly off Shane Smeltz just before half-time as Wellington responded to this latest setback, but they found themselves further in the mire three minutes into the second spell, Santalab heading home his second from close range after Wellington’s defence took a collective nap.

That Western Sydney failed to build on this tally owes much to the efforts of Moss, while the visitors also had a handful of chances, and Guilherme Finkler’s splendid free-kick fourteen minutes from time ensured they at least headed home with a consolation goal, which was all Wellington deserved from a game in which they were well beaten.

Next weekend’s action kicks off on Friday evening with the clash of Western Sydney and Melbourne City at Spotless Stadium. Then on Saturday night, Central Coast and Adelaide dispute the wooden spoon at Central Coast Stadium, prior to the clash of Brisbane and Melbourne Victory at Suncorp Stadium.

There are two matches on Sunday evening, with the under-strength Wellington Phoenix – six of their players will be on international duty during this round – taking on Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium, prior to Perth and Sydney meeting at NIB Stadium.

Match Details:

Adelaide United FC 2 (P. Diawara (16), S. Cirio (90 pen)) –  Brisbane Roar FC 1 (J. Maclaren (60)); HT 1-0

Melbourne City FC 4 (T. Cahill (12), N. Fitzgerald (65), B. Fornaroli (75 pen, 81)) – Newcastle United  Jets FC 0; HT 1-0

Melbourne Victory FC 4 (B. Berisha (23), F. Ben Khalfallah (42), M. Rojas (48), J. Troisi (73)) – Perth Glory FC  1 (D. Castro (5)); HT 2-1

Sydney FC 1 (F. Holosko (8)) –  Central Coast Mariners FC 0; HT 1-0

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 3 (N. Martinez (9), B. Santalab (39, 48)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (G. Finkler (76)) HT 2-0

P W D L F A GD Pts

Sydney FC 23 17 5 1 46 11 +35 56
Melbourne Victory 23 14 3 6 48 27 +21 45
Melbourne City 23 10 6 7 43 33 +10 36
Brisbane Roar 23 8 9 6 32 30 +2 33
Perth Glory 23 8 8 7 44 44 0 32
Western Sydney Wanderers 23 6 10 7 27 32 -5 28
Wellington Phoenix 23 6 5 12 29 41 -12 23
Newcastle Jets 23 5 7 11 28 41 -13 22
Central Coast Mariners 23 5 5 13 26 43 -17 20
Adelaide United 23 4 6 13 19 40 -21 18