Round 7 Review: Sydney back on top as top two lose

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

HAL Round Review

Defeats for the top two teams in the Hyundai A-League this weekend have allowed reigning champions Sydney FC to return to the top rung on the league ladder in a seventh round marred by the postponement of a fixture.

The match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix was deferred until a later date on Thursday because the playing surface was sub-standard, in the words of league management.

There’s more than a hint of backside-covering in evidence in their choice of words, because there’s no doubt a double booking, which required Spotless Stadium’s use for setting-up purposes throughout the week leading up to the event, was a far from insignificant factor in this decision, and leads one to enquire how this could possibly have come about.

Sydney overcame leaders Newcastle Jets 2-1 in front of 11,519 fans at Allianz Stadium, Milos Ninkovic giving the home team the ideal start when netting just five minutes into the contest.

Alex Brosque went close to marking his 200th appearance with a goal as Sydney sought to build on their early advantage, but it took them until the hour mark to do so, Jack Duncan’s blunder presenting Bobo with the easiest goal he’ll score all season.

Newcastle, for whom Joe Champness spurned a great chance to level the scores just after half-time, halved the deficit six minutes after Bobo’s strike when goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne misjudged Dimitri Petratos’ swerving shot, a goal which set up a grandstand finish.

Ben Kantarovski went desperately close to providing a late Newcastle equaliser, but they had to face the reality of their first defeat of the season, which came in wet conditions, just to add insult to injury.

That the title-holders are back on top is largely thanks to bottom-placed Brisbane Roar pulling off the shock of the round, with just 9,285 fans present at Suncorp Stadium to witness their first win of the season as they rolled Melbourne City 3-1.

Again, an early goal was highly influential in proceedings, Avraam Papadopoulos bagging the first of his brace just five minutes after the action got under way. Iacopo La Rocca was guilty of gifting his opponent the opportunity, and was guilty as charged again at the end of the half as Eric Bautheac capitalised on another La Rocca shocker to double Brisbane’s lead at a crucial moment in the match.

City fought back early in the second spell, with Stefan Mauk halving the deficit, but twenty minutes from time Papadopoulos struck again to ensure Brisbane of a very welcome three points and a win which kick-starts their campaign.

City’s cross-town rivals also scored their first win of the season on Sunday, with Perth Glory Melbourne Victory’s unwilling victims at NIB Stadium, where 13,565 fans – the biggest attendance of the round – saw the visitors score twice during the third quarter of a contest they won 2-0.

Missing two of their sharpest operators in Diego Castro and Adam Taggart, Perth were always going to be hard-pressed to get a result, and so it proved, Besart Berisha going closest to breaking the first half deadlock with a glancing header which hit the post.

Perth weren’t without their chances during this period, with sixteen-year-old debutant Jacob Italiano narrowly astray just before the half-time whistle. But the visitors weren’t to be denied, Berisha breaking the deadlock eleven minutes into the second half before Leroy George doubled their advantage ten minutes later.

Melbourne could have won by an even greater margin, but they’re now in the thick of a thicket of teams, with just three points covering the teams ranked from fourth to tenth on the standings.

Two of them clashed in the opening game of the round, with Ryan Kitto’s last-gasp winner clinching a 2-1 win for Adelaide United at Central Coast Mariners, where 5,073 fans saw the visitors go closest to breaking the stalemate, Nikola Mileusnic spurning a great chance to open the scoring when hitting the crossbar from eight yards out.

The home team enjoyed the half-time advantage, Wout Brama potting a penalty five minutes before the interval. But Adelaide grew stronger as the match went on, and deservedly equalised when Daniel Adlung thundered home a thirty yarder on the hour.

Coast ‘keeper Ben Kennedy made a string of saves to keep his team in contention after United’s equaliser, but just as it looked as if he’d done enough to earn his team a share of the spoils, up popped Kitto to volley home a stoppage time winner.

Newcastle and Melbourne Victory kick off eighth round action at McDonald Jones Stadium on Thursday night, twenty-four hours before Melbourne City and Perth get it on at AAMI Park.

Saturday’s fare sees Wellington welcoming Central Coast to Westpac Stadium on Saturday evening, prior to the clash of Sydney and Brisbane at Allianz Stadium, while the round wraps up on Sunday evening at Coopers Stadium as Adelaide and Western Sydney lock horns.

by Jeremy Ruane

Match details

Brisbane Roar FC 3 (A. Papadopoulos (5, 70), E. Bautheac (43)) – Melbourne City FC 1 (S. Mauk (54)); HT 2-0

Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (W. Brama (40 pen)) – Adelaide United FC 2 (D. Adlung (59), R. Kitto (90)); HT 1-0

Perth Glory FC 0 – Melbourne Victory FC 2 (B. Berisha (56), L. George (67)); HT 0-0

Sydney FC 2 (M. Ninkovic (5), Bobo (59)) – Newcastle United Jets 1 (D. Petratos (65)); HT 2-1

League ladder

P W D L F A GD Pts

Sydney FC 7 5 1 1 11 7 +4 16
Newcastle Jets 7 4 2 1 16 8 +8 14
Melbourne City 7 4 1 2 9 6 +3 13
Western Sydney 6 1 5 0 9 8 +1 8
Adelaide United 7 2 2 3 8 10 -2 8
Melbourne Victory 7 1 4 2 8 8 0 7

—————————————–
Perth Glory 7 2 1 4 8 14 -6 7
Brisbane Roar 7 1 3 3 9 11 -2 6
Central Coast 7 1 3 3 8 12 -4 6
Wellington Phoenix 6 1 2 3 11 13 -2 5

W-League Round 4

Results
https://www.w-league.com.au/fixtures#!/fixtures/s2017/r4

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

2017-18 NYL season got underway over the weekend, here’s a recap of Round 1.

Conference A

Melbourne City FC (3) Crowley 4′, 24′, Najjarine 28′ – Brisbane Roar FC (0)
* Game abandoned after 50′ mins at 3-0 due to Electrical storm

Perth Glory (1) Mustafa 72′ – Adelaide United (2) Stamatelopoulos 31′, 52′, 90+2′

Bye- Melbourne Victory

Conference B

Western Sydney Wanderers FC (8) Adam 9′, Puflett 41′, 56′, Majok 53′, 88′, 90 +2′, Monge 66′, Najjar 80′, 90′ – Canberra United FC (0)

Newcastle Jets(1) Clut 37′ – Central Coast Mariners (1) Powell 72′

Bye- Sydney FC