Round 11 Review: Video assistance turning A-League into farce

by Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of


HAL Round Review

‘Twas the round before Christmas, but all is not well in Hyundai A-League land, as the spectre of “Big Brother”, in the form of the Video Assistant Referee, has seen the competition plunge to a new nadir after yet more controversial rulings from on high in eleventh round action.

The round kicked off on Friday night at Allianz Stadium, where 10,688 fans saw Sydney FC come from behind to down third-placed Melbourne City 3-1 and maintain their five-point lead atop the standings.

The visitors squandered a great chance to open the scoring on the quarter-hour through Ross McCormack, who was to depart the fray with an injury fifteen minutes later.

Nonetheless, City continued to press, and were rewarded seven minutes from time when Luke Brattan opened the scoring with a goal awarded by the VAR, who deemed that his crossbar rattler had bounced down over the line before rebounding back into play.

Sydney were not best pleased, and vented their frustration before the interval, scoring through Adrian Mierzejewski’s free-kick and Bobo’s stoppage time penalty to head to the dressing rooms a goal to the good.

It wasn’t until deep in second half stoppage time that Alex Brosque clinched victory for the league leaders, this despite City being reduced to ten men twenty minutes from time when the VAR’s intervention saw Manny Muscat pick up the first red card of the weekend not initially awarded by the referee.

Newcastle Jets remain line astern of Sydney after a late Dimitri Petratos penalty earned them a 2-1 win in front of 8,146 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium, where all the noteworthy action took place in the second spell.

Andrew Nabbout opened the scoring in controversial fashion for the home team ten minutes after half-time, despite appearing to be in an offside position when the ball was played to him.

Adelaide levelled things up ten minutes later through George Blackwood, and were only prevented from taking the lead when Glen Moss parried Michael Marrone’s drive to safety five minutes later.

Further controversy followed, with a harsh handball call against Ryan Strain presenting Petratos with penalty-potting practice, a feat he accomplished to the disgust of Adelaide’s assistant coach, who was sent from the dugout, and missed seeing Ersan Gulum’s late headed attempt to level the scores being kept out by Moss.

The worst example yet of VAR work took place at Central Coast Stadium, where the Mariners slumped to a 2-0 loss at the hands of Western Sydney Wanderers, who rediscovered their winning ways in front of 7,199 fans.

A lively opening was punctuated by Brendon Santalab’s firecracker twenty yarder in the 26th minute for the visitors, to which Central Coast responded via a Connor Pain drive which Vedran Janjetovic spectacularly tipped to safety.

Five minutes into the second spell, Western Sydney doubled their advantage through Alvaro Cejudo, whose goal left Central Coast with plenty to do. They strove to do so, but were reduced to ten men by the VAR just after the hour mark, Wout Brama the guilty party.

Twelve minutes from time, Jake McGing followed suit, leaving the home team with nine men on the park, and one less on the bench – one of Central Coast’s team officials also received an early bath for their reaction to what had gone before.

Referee Alex King had already issued both players with yellow cards when the VAR suggested red cards would be more appropriate – an extreme abuse of the role which the Video Assistant Referee is employed to do, which is, to a large extent, make calls on incidents which the referee has neither seen nor adjudicated upon – not the case on either of these occasions.

Thankfully, there was no such nonsense in the final game of the round, which saw Melbourne Victory get off to a flying start at Suncorp Stadium – Rhys Williams and Costa Barbarouses both scored inside the first twenty minutes – before holding off Brisbane Roar in front of 10,225 fans.

The home team pulled one back ten minutes into the second spell through Michael Maccarone, but would have lost by an even greater margin but for the fact Besart Berisha was denied a stoppage time goal for a handball offence.

In a game of few highlights watched by 7,750 fans at NIB Stadium, Perth Glory scored a 1-0 win over bottom-placed Wellington Phoenix thanks to a goal on the hour from Diego Castro.

Next week’s action kicks off on Thursday night, as Brisbane welcome Perth to Suncorp Stadium. Twenty-four hours later, Newcastle and Western Sydney square off at McDonald Jones Stadium, while there’s a double header on Saturday night.

Wellington entertain Sydney at Westpac Stadium before the Melbourne derby dominates the round at AAMI Park.

And on Boxing Day, Adelaide and Central Coast get into the Christmas spirit at Coopers Stadium.

As this is the final review before the festive season, it just remains for me to wish all readers a Merry Christmas – and you won’t need a VAR’s influence on that front, thank heavens!

by Jeremy Ruane

Match details

Brisbane Roar FC 1 (M. Maccarone (56)) – Melbourne Victory FC 2 (R. Williams (12), C. Barbarouses (19)); HT 0-2

Central Coast Mariners FC 0 – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (B. Santalab (26), A. Cejudo (50)); HT 0-1

Newcastle United Jets FC (A. Nabbout (55), D. Petratos (89 pen)) – Adelaide United FC 1 (G. Blackwood (67)); HT 0-0

Perth Glory FC 1 (D. Castro (59)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 0; HT 0-0

Sydney FC 3 (A. Mierzejewski (44), Bobo (45 pen), A. Brosque (90)) – Melbourne City FC 1 (L. Brattan (38)); HT 2-1

League ladder
P W D L F A GD Pts

Sydney FC 11 9 1 1 23 9 +14 28
Newcastle Jets 11 7 2 2 25 13 +12 23
Melbourne City 11 6 1 4 14 13 +1 19
Adelaide United 11 4 2 5 13 14 -1 14
Melbourne Victory 11 3 4 4 15 17 -2 13
Perth Glory 11 4 1 6 13 18 -5 13
Central Coast 11 3 3 5 13 16 -3 12
Western Sydney 10 2 5 3 11 17 -6 11
Brisbane Roar 11 2 4 5 13 16 -3 10
Wellington Phoenix 10 1 3 6 14 21 -7 6

W-League Round 8



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