Round 17 Review: Bottom Three earn points in round of surprises

By Jeremy Ruane
With compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

HAL Round Review

The bottom three teams in the Hyundai A-League between them collected seven points from a possible nine on the third weekend in January, in doing so producing a couple of shock results.

Heading the charge was Wellington Phoenix, the bottom-placed club toppling second-placed Newcastle Jets 3-2 in front of 10,877 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium, just the second time this season that the Wellingtonians have been watched by a five-figure crowd.

Newcastle carved out a host of chances early on, but Lewis Italiano kept Wellington in the contest, and they opened the scoring very much against the run of play just shy of the half-hour courtesy Matija Ljujic’s curling twenty-five yarder.

Nine minutes before half-time, Daniel Mullen’s near post header from a Matthew Ridenton corner doubled Wellington’s advantage, and Andrija Kaludjerovic should have put the result beyond doubt before half-time.

Instead, the home team were back in the contest just three minutes into the second spell courtesy Andrew Nabbout. But while Nigel Boogaard was off the field receiving stitches in a facial injury following a clash of heads, Wellington restored their two-goal cushion thanks to a Roy Krishna rocket which crashed into the top corner.

The Fijian then hit the crossbar as their former coach, Newcastle gaffer Ernie Merrick, looked on. And while Dimitri Petratos gave the home team late hope from the penalty spot, they were beaten by deserving winners on the day, with Wellington just two points off seventh place now, having picked up seven points in their last three games.

Central Coast Mariners also stunned the nation, holding reigning champions and runaway leaders Sydney FC to a 1-1 draw in front of 13,511 fans at Allianz Stadium, where Blake Powell gave the visitors the ideal start from the penalty spot.

The visitors proceeded to dominate proceedings, and should have doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when, seconds after Bobo had been denied the equaliser by the offside flag, Lachlan Wales inexplicably fired over from point-blank range.

It was a miss which would come back to haunt Central Coast, as Bobo wasn’t to be denied his sixteenth goal of the season, heading home just after the hour mark to earn the league leaders a share of the spoils courtesy their second successive stalemate.

Brisbane Roar scored a welcome win as they overcame Perth Glory 3-2 in front of 6,258 fans at Suncorp Stadium, where the fans were treated to a firecracker start as Avraam Papadopoulos and Perth’s Chris Harold exchanged goals inside the first eleven minutes.

That’s how the scoreline stayed until the hour mark, when Ivan Franjic fired Brisbane back in front, but Harold’s second goal of the game eight minutes later once more restored parity.

But the home team edged ahead once more seventeen minutes from time when substitute Brett Holman scored what proved to be the winner, although injury-hit Perth were only denied a third equaliser when Diego Castro hit the post with nine minutes left.

Away from the lower reaches, Melbourne Victory strengthened their claims for a top-four finish with a well-earned 3-0 romp over Western Sydney Wanderers in front of 11,864 fans at ANZ Stadium, where Rhys Williams was fortunate to avoid the red card in his second successive match after an early agricultural challenge on Oriol Riera.

Wests’ striker hit the crossbar and had a goal denied him by the offside flag in this encounter, which was punctuated by two fine Costa Barbarouses strikes, one in each half, and a Besart Berisha goal half-way through the second spell which put to bed the home team’s hopes of getting back into the contest.

Two goals in five minutes just after the half-hour mark from Marcel Budzinski provided the foundations for Melbourne City at AAMI Park in the final game of the round, in which they overwhelmed Adelaide United 5-0.

Ross McCormack hit the crossbar in the second spell for the home team, whose victory was marred by a suspected broken leg for Nathaniel Atkinson, the youngster landing awkwardly following an aerial duel.

Adelaide did everything they could to get back into the contest, but couldn’t find a way past Dean Bouzanis. Consequently, the visitors fell away in the late stages of the match, new City signing Dario Vidosic firing a quick double before McCormack added to United’s misery inside the ten minutes of second half stoppage time as the third-placed team consolidated their position in emphatic fashion.

It’s the Australia Day round of action next week, kicking off on Thursday night with the clash of Melbourne City and Newcastle at AAMI Park, the same venue hosting the latest “Big Blue” twenty-four hours later.

Saturday’s fare sees Wellington welcoming Adelaide to Westpac Stadium, prior to the clash of Central Coast and Brisbane at Central Coast Stadium. And on Sunday night, Perth and Western Sydney wrap up the eighteenth round action at NIB Stadium.

Match details

Brisbane Roar FC 3 (A. Papadopoulos (4), I, Frantic (60), B. Holman (73)) – Perth Glory FC 2 (C. Harold (11, 68)); HT 1-1

Melbourne City FC 5 (M. Budzinski (30, 35), D. Vidosic (89, 90), R. McCormack (90)) – Adelaide United FC 0; HT 2-0

Newcastle United Jets FC 2 (A. Nabbout (48), D. Petratos (86 pen)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 3 (M. Ljujic (28), D. Mullen (36), R. Krishna (61)); HT 0-2

Sydney FC 1 (Bobo (61)) – Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (B. Powell (7 pen)); HT 0-1

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0 – Melbourne Victory FC 3 (C. Barbarouses (36, 90), B. Berisha (68)); HT 0-1

League ladder

P W D L F A GD Pts

Sydney FC 17 12 4 1 39 13 +26 40

Newcastle Jets 17 10 3 4 37 20 +17 33

Melbourne City 17 9 2 6 26 19 +7 29

Melbourne Victory 17 7 5 5 26 23 +3 26

Adelaide United 17 6 4 7 19 22 -3 22

Western Sydney 16 4 7 5 17 27 -10 19
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Central Coast 17 3 7 7 17 23 -6 16

Brisbane Roar 17 4 4 9 19 27 -8 16

Perth Glory 17 5 1 11 19 36 -17 16

Wellington Phoenix 16 3 5 8 22 31 -9 14

W-League

https://www.w-league.com.au/fixtures#!/results/s2017/r12

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

2017-18 National Youth League season

https://www.y-league.com.au/fixtures#!/fixtures/s2017/r9