Round 16 Review: Newcastle close gap on stumbling Sydney

By Jeremy Ruane
With compliments of

HAL Round Review

Reigning Hyundai A-League champions and current league leaders Sydney FC suffered a rare stumble in sixteenth round action, Adelaide United holding them to a scoreless draw in front of 9,959 fans at Coopers Stadium.

The woodwork denied United in the eighteenth minute when Ryan Strain’s long-range effort clipped the crossbar, while during the second spell Sydney twice brought the best out of United ‘keeper Daniel Margush.

United also went all out for the winner, with Alex Wilkinson clearing off the line to deny Jordan O’Doherty to once more stave off defeat for the table-toppers, as Adelaide dropped out of the top four.

Newcastle Jets closed the gap to six points in second spot after edging Brisbane Roar 1-0 in front of 12,137 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium, where Jason Hoffman’s eleventh minute strike proved to be the only goal of the evening, despite the creation of numerous other opportunities throughout proceedings.

Ernie Merrick’s team was the only one of the top four to win this weekend, with third-placed Melbourne City twice having to come from behind to force a 2-2 draw at Central Coast Mariners, who attracted 6,253 spectators to a windblown Central Coast Stadium for a match which saw the visitors reduced to ten men for over an hour.

Alan Baro headed the home team in front after thirteen minutes, turning home the rebound after Harrison Delfridge’s attempt to head a free-kick to safety rebounded off an upright.

City suffered a further setback just shy of the half-hour when Delfridge was shown a straight red card for clattering into Blake Powell. But they made light of their numerical disadvantage by levelling the scores through Ross McCormack – who else? – three minutes before half-time.

Central Coast wasted little time in restoring their advantage, Jake McGing heading home from close range five minutes into the second half after the visitors’ crossbar had been struck following a Lachlan Wales corner.

City wouldn’t go away, however, and after McCormack and Nick Fitzgerald had both gone close, and the former had another effort saved by Ben Kennedy, they levelled the scores in controversial fashion four minutes from time.

Marcel Budzinsky’s piledriver was initially ruled out by an offside call, but the Video Assistant Referee’s intervention left the natives in a grumpy mood to conclude their weekend, as Central Coast were pegged back for the second time in a challenging contest, the wind a significant contributing factor in this regard.

City’s cross-town rivals scored a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Perth Glory in front of 14,332 fans at AAMI Park, where Scott Neville headed the visitors in front inside the first ninety seconds of the contest.

Melbourne Victory swiftly set about restoring parity, James Troisi achieving the feat after Leroy George had gone close – the Dutchman had a terrific first half, and set up Mark Milligan’s goal two minutes into the second spell with a free-kick to give the home team the lead.

Liam Reddy’s exploits ensured Melbourne weren’t able to build on it as Leigh Broxham clocked up his 250th A-League appearance, all with the one club. But Central Coast weren’t done for, Diego Castro chipping home an equaliser seven minutes from time which, given the rain which was now falling, looked set to the be the last goal of the night.

Someone forgot to tell George, however, and as the game entered stoppage time, his raking cross-field ball was tailor-made for Costa Barbarouses to latch onto and lash home the winner, to the undisguised delight of the natives.

Wellington Phoenix and Western Sydney Wanderers shared the spoils at Westpac Stadium, and while the home team enjoyed the greater number of scoring chances during the first half, it was the visitors who finally made their superior share of possession pay dividends just before the half-hour mark.

Brendon Santalab, who is no stranger to scoring goals against Wellington, added another in the form of a superbly executed hip-turn volley. The visitors failed to increase their advantage before the break, at which point Wellington introduced their two new signings to the fray.

While Nathan Burns is no stranger to the A-League, Matija Ljujic is a total ‘newbie’, but he showed all-comers what he’s capable of fifteen minutes from time courtesy a thunderous thirty yard equaliser which set up a grandstand finish.

Wellington finished with a wet sail, and should have won it deep in stoppage time when Matthew Ridenton raced through on goal with Vedran Janjetovic to beat, and Andrija Kaludjerovic square of him ready to tap in. But the midfielder got caught betwixt and between, much to the chagrin of the striker, who was furious with his team-mate immediately afterwards.

Brisbane and Perth get seventeenth round action under way at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday evening, before Western Sydney welcome Melbourne Victory to ANZ Stadium twenty-four hours later.

Saturday night’s fare sees Newcastle entertaining Wellington at McDonald Jones Stadium, prior to the clash of Sydney and Central Coast at Allianz Stadium, while on Sunday night Adelaide travel to AAMI Park to take on Melbourne City.

Match details

Adelaide United FC 0 – Sydney FC 0

Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (A. Baro (13), J. McGing (50)) – Melbourne City FC 2 (R. McCormack (42), M. Budzinski (86)); HT 1-1

Melbourne Victory 3 (J. Troisi (27), M. Milligan (47), C. Barbarouses (90)), Perth Glory 2 (S. Neville (2), D. Castro (83)) HT 1-1

Newcastle Jets 1 (J. Hoffman (11)), Brisbane Roar 0 HT 1-0

Wellington Phoenix 1 (M. Ljujic (75)), Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (B. Santalab (28)) HT 0-1

League ladder

P W D L F A GD Pts

Sydney FC 16 12 3 1 38 12 +26 39

Newcastle Jets 16 10 3 3 35 17 +18 33

Melbourne City 16 8 2 6 21 19 +2 26

Melbourne Victory 16 6 5 5 23 23 0 23

Adelaide United 16 6 4 6 19 17 +2 22

Western Sydney 15 4 7 4 17 24 -7 19

Perth Glory 16 5 1 10 17 33 -16 16

Central Coast 16 3 6 7 16 22 -6 15

Brisbane Roar 16 3 4 9 16 25 -9 13

Wellington Phoenix 15 2 5 8 19 29 -10 11



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