Round 22 End Split Review: Perth and Western Sydney improve Play-Off hopes

By Jeremy Ruane
With compliments of

HAL Round Review – end of split round 22


Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory improved their hopes of claiming a Hyundai A-League play-off spot on March 10 as both sides scored convincing home victories over the bottom two clubs on the table.

Wests enjoyed a 4-1 win over a Wellington Phoenix team under new management, with caretaker coach Chris Greenacre stepping into the breach for the third time in the club’s history after they parted ways with coach Darike Kalezic during the week.

The change of gaffer saw a few alterations to Wellington’s line-up, but they made little difference to the outcome, with Wests outplaying their guests and unfortunate not to win by a greater margin.

Mark Bridge had a goal denied him by the offside flag in the eighth minute, while only the post denied Chris Ikonomidis’ twenty yard free-kick just after the half-hour mark.

Five minutes before half-time, Brendon Santalab was gifted his usual goal against Wellington, tapping into an open goal after Bridge had been released down the left and drawn the defence.

Those in the 7,041-strong crowd of a red-and-black persuasion had their celebrations cut short within ninety seconds, as Sarpreet Singh rammed the rebound into the roof of Wests’ net after Roy Krishna’s drive had been blocked by Vedran Janjetovic.

The Fijian was foiled by Wests’ ‘keeper again soon after half-time, after which the home team gained the ascendancy. Once Brendan Hamill headed them in front half-way through the second spell, there was only going to be one outcome, and it became a matter of ‘by how many’ the home team would win.

Hamill notched his second goal of the game ten minutes before half-time, while Ikonomidis wrapped up the scoring in the final minute, although the visitors could have shipped another one or two either side of his effort but for the exploits of Tando Velaphi, who kept the score down.

On the other side of the continent, Perth overpowered Central Coast Mariners 3-1 in front of 7,277 fans at NIB Stadium, who groaned in despair as Xavi Torres’ sixth minute header hit the post – was it going to be one of those nights for the home side?

Thankfully not, from Perth’s perspective. Joel Chianese headed them in front on the half-hour following a Neil Kilkenny corner to the far post – where was the defender covering that upright, Central Coast?

The same man struck again on the hour, Chianese doubling Perth’s lead when tucking home the rebound after Andy Keogh’s shot had hit the post. But the advantage was halved ten minutes later, Andrew Hoole curling a twenty-five yarder into the top corner to give the visitors hope.

This stirred Perth into life again, with Chris Harold being denied a goal by the offside flag soon afterwards. But there was no denying the peach of a free-kick which Torres bent into the top corner to seal victory for the home side, who are just three points behind sixth-placed Adelaide United, albeit having played a game more than the South Australians.

Round 23 action next weekend kicks off with the clash of Adelaide and Melbourne City at Coopers Stadium on Friday evening, and concludes with Central Coast’s trip to AAMI Park to take on Melbourne Victory on Sunday night.

In between times, Sydney FC entertain Brisbane Roar at Allianz Stadium, after Newcastle Jets get the chance to close in on a home semi-final when they meet Wellington Phoenix at Auckland’s QBE Stadium.

Match details – end of split round 22

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 4 (B. Santalab (40), B. Hamill (68, 78), C. Ikonomidis (90)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (S. Singh (42)); HT 1-1

Perth Glory FC 3 (J. Chianese (29, 61), X. Torres (89)) – Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (A. Hoole (72)); HT 1-0

League ladder – to Round 22

P W D L F A GD Pts

Sydney FC 22 16 4 2 54 17 +37 52

Newcastle Jets 22 13 5 4 46 25 +21 44

Melbourne City 22 10 3 9 32 30 +2 33

Melbourne Victory 22 9 5 8 33 31 +2 32

Western Sydney 23 7 9 7 32 38 -6 30

Adelaide United 22 8 5 9 24 29 -5 29

Perth Glory 23 8 2 13 30 44 -14 26

Brisbane Roar 22 7 4 11 25 32 -7 25

Central Coast 22 4 8 10 23 32 -9 20

Wellington Phoenix 22 4 5 13 25 46 -21 17