HAL 13 Round 1 Review: Hat-Trick a highlight as A-League resumes

by Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

Round Review

The Hyundai A-League is under way for another season, with reigning champions Sydney FC commencing their pursuit of back-to-back crowns with a hard-earned but deserved 1-0 win at Melbourne Victory.

24,808 fans saw the first ‘Big Blue’ of the season unfold at Etihad Stadium, looking on as an under-strength home team – the FFA’s prioritising of A-League football over FIFA’s international windows affects more than just Wellington Phoenix these days – were dominated by the visitors, who only had Thomas Deng’s own goal eight minutes into the second spell to show for their superiority.

The season began twenty-four hours earlier when a brace of Bruce Kamau goals fired Melbourne City to a 2-0 win over Brisbane Roar in front of 9,589 fans at AAMI Park, where Nick D‘Agostino hit the post for the visitors in the nineteenth minute.

Kamau broke the deadlock when steering home through a crowded penalty area on the stroke of half-time, and made the game safe for City when turning the ball home with sixteen minutes still to play in an otherwise uninspiring spectacle.

The performance of the round came at Central Coast Stadium, where Roy O’Donovan fired a first half hat-trick to inspire a come-from-behind 5-1 victory for his new club, Newcastle Jets, at the expense of his previous employers, Central Coast Mariners.

12,044 fans saw Asdrubal open the scoring for the home team in just the fifth minute of the contest, but O’Donovan restored parity from the penalty spot four minutes later, and gave the visitors the lead just shy of the half-hour mark before completing his hat-trick seven minutes before half-time, capping off a fine move in style.

The final scoreline didn’t reflect the home team’s contribution to proceedings, the result blowing out in the final ten minutes as O’Donovan turned provider for Joseph Champness before Dimitri Petratos’ stoppage time scorcher put the exclamation mark on the visitors’ impressive New South Wales derby triumph.

Spare a thought for those who turned up ten minutes late at Westpac Stadium on Sunday evening, for they missed the only action of note as Wellington Phoenix and Adelaide United fought out a dire 1-1 draw in front of 8,154 fans.

The home team opened the scoring through Dario Vidosic just five minutes into the contest, but their advantage lasted just four minutes, Johan Absalonsen heading home the equaliser before two teams sporting ‘under new management’ signs produced a performance suggesting that their respective players are still getting used to the new methods required by their new coaches.

Later on Sunday, Western Sydney Wanderers, whose pre-season programme suffered a hammer blow a week ago when coach Tony Popovic resigned to take up a new post in Turkey, made light of this situation by overcoming Perth Glory 2-1 at Spotless Stadium.

Despite enjoying the better of proceedings, the home team had to wait until the dying minutes of the half before Oriel Riera and Jumpei Kusukami confirmed their superiority with a quick-fire double to enter the dressing rooms two goals to the good.

Both teams had chances to alter the scoreboard after the interval, with Adam Taggart hitting both post and bar in quick succession twenty minutes from time for the visitors, soon after Jedran Janjetovic had kept them at bay with a fine double-save.

A Brendan Hamill own goal eight minutes from time finally gave Perth some reward for their efforts, but they weren’t able to strike again, ensuring Wests of a welcome victory at the end of a week which challenged all in “Wanderland”.

Next weekend’s round kicks off with the Suncorp Stadium clash of Brisbane and Adelaide on Friday evening. Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” is bound to get an airing twenty-four hours later, as derbies capture the imagination.

Another New South Wales derby takes place at Spotless Stadium, with Western Sydney welcoming Central Coast to their home ground, while all Melbourne’s football fans will be converging on Etihad Stadium as City and Victory renew their rivalry.

Newcastle and Perth lock horns at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday evening before Sydney take on Wellington in the final game of the round at Allianz Stadium, where anything other than a home victory would be regarded as a massive upset.

Match details:

Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (Asdrubal (5)) – Newcastle United Jets FC 5 (R. O’Donovan (9 pen, 28, 38), J. Champness (81), D. Petratos (90)); HT 1-3

Melbourne City FC 2 (B. Kamau (45, 74)) – Brisbane Roar FC 0; HT 1-0

Melbourne Victory FC 0 – Sydney FC 1 (“oggie” (53)); HT 0-1

Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (D. Vidosic (5)) – Adelaide United FC 1 (J. Absalonsen (9)); HT 1-1

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (O. Riera (43), J. Kusukami (45)) – Perth Glory FC 1 (“oggie” (82)) HT 2-0

League Ladder:

https://www.a-league.com.au/ladder