Round 5 Review: Champions prevail in top-of-table tussle

by Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

HAL Round Review

Reigning Hyundai A-League champions Sydney FC ended the unbeaten start of table-topping Melbourne City at AAMI Park, where Luke Wilkshire’s goal on the hour separated the sides when the final whistle sounded thirty minutes later.

The win fired the title-holders to the top of the standings, although City certainly weren’t without their chances to score, the pick of them a Nick Fitzgerald piledriver which was splendidly saved by Andrew Redmayne.

The 11,034 fans present were preoccupied throughout proceedings by the well-being of Tim Cahill, who injured his ankle during his first start of the season for City, instantly making himself a doubtful starter for Australia’s FIFA World Cup intercontinental play-off with Honduras.

Newcastle Jets consolidated their third placing with a solid 3-0 win over a disappointing Wellington Phoenix combination which, on this display, deserved to conclude the round at the bottom of the table.

Just 6,258 fans were on hand at McDonald Jones Stadium as Ernie Merrick’s charges tore into this former employers from the outset, and how they failed to score at least once inside the opening twenty minutes defied logic.

They finally made the breakthrough their efforts merited eight minutes before half-time, and once Roy O’Donovan had one goal, the league’s leading marksman didn’t have too long to wait before his second of the game arrived, on the stroke of half-time.

Nine minutes into the second spell, Andrew Nabbout made the game safe for Newcastle, who closed to within two points of the lead after this convincing victory over a poor Wellington side – one wonders how much longer the FFA will tolerate their lack of on-field competitiveness and below average crowd numbers both home and away before calling time on the New Zealand-based franchise.

Goals were at a premium in the other matches, with Andy Keogh heading Perth Glory to a 1-0 win over Adelaide United in front of 11,049 fans at NIB Stadium, where visiting goalkeeper Paul Izzo produced a blinder, including a third minute penalty save to deny Diego Castro.

Brisbane Roar and Central Coast Mariners battled out a scoreless draw in front of 11,485 fans at Suncorp Stadium, while the league’s draw specialists, Western Sydney Wanderers, were at it again in the final game of the round, although their 1-1 stalemate with Melbourne Victory, in front of 21,577 fans at Etihad Stadium, could hardly be described as mundane.

Wests only have themselves to blame on this occasion, however, for Melbourne were reduced to ten men in the 24th minute when Mitch Austin committed his second bookable offence of the game.

Oriel Riera took full advantage of his team’s numerical advantage to open the scoring soon after, but squandered a golden opportunity to double his team’s lead from the penalty spot three minutes before half-time.

Lawrence Thomas saved his spot-kick, although Riera’s cause wasn’t helped by the Video Assistant Referee once again abusing the privilege of his position, taking an inordinate amount of time to determine if Rhys Williams, whose foul resulted in the penalty, should be booked for his troubles – hardly something which the VAR process was brought in to do!

Wests squandered more chances to increase their lead after half-time, and were punished four minutes into the second spell by Thomas Deng’s equaliser, Melbourne holding on for a point with Roly Bonevacia’s post-rattler on the hour the closest the visitors came to regaining the lead.

Next weekend’s action kicks off with the league leaders’ visit to Central Coast on Friday evening, while Saturday’s fare sees Adelaide welcoming Newcastle to Coopers Stadium prior to the clash of Melbourne Victory and Brisbane at Etihad Stadium.

Wellington and Perth contest the latest “Long Distance Derby” at Westpac Stadium on Sunday afternoon, before Melbourne City and Western Sydney square off at AAMI Park later that evening.
by Jeremy Ruane

Match details

Brisbane Roar FC 0 – Central Coast Mariners FC 0

Melbourne City FC 0 – Sydney FC 1 (L. Wilkshire (59)); HT 0-0

Melbourne Victory FC 1 (T. Deng (49)) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (O. Riera (32)); HT 0-1

Newcastle United Jets FC 3 (R. O’Donovan (37, 45), A. Nabbout (54)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 0; HT 2-0

Perth Glory FC 1 (A. Keogh (80)) – Adelaide United FC 0; HT 0-0

League ladder
P W D L F A GD Pts

Sydney FC 5 4 1 0 9 4 +5 13
Melbourne City 5 4 0 1 7 2 +5 12
Newcastle Jets 5 3 2 0 13 5 +8 11
Western Sydney 5 1 4 0 8 7 +1 7
Perth Glory 5 2 1 2 6 7 -1 7
Adelaide United 5 1 2 2 5 7 -2 5
Melbourne Victory 5 0 3 2 5 7 -2 3
Central Coast 5 0 3 2 5 10 -5 3
Brisbane Roar 5 0 2 3 5 9 -4 2
Wellington Phoenix 5 0 2 3 6 11 -5 2

W-League Round 2