End of League – Round 27 Review: Brisbane Claims Final Play-Off Spot

By Jeremy Ruane
With compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

HAL Round Review

Brisbane Roar claimed the final play-off spot in the 2017-18 Hyundai A-League competition on the weekend of the 29th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster, coming from behind to down Perth Glory 3-2 and end the Western Australian club’s hopes of making the top six.

9,579 fans piled into NIB Stadium hoping that Perth would prevail, and they were delighted when Adam Taggart took full advantage of Jamie Young’s misjudgement in the 24th minute, the striker lobbing the ball into an empty net after the ‘keeper had needlessly charged out of his area.

Their advantage lasted just six minutes, early substitute Henrique firing Brisbane level on the half-hour. Ten minutes later, Thomas Kristensen thumped the visitors into the lead, an advantage which Henrique increased still further seven minutes into the second half.

Perth had to score next, and Diego Castro had the perfect opportunity to do so eleven minutes from time. But Young made amends for his earlier blemish by saving the penalty.

Taggart’s header ricocheted in off Jamie Pepper four minutes from time to give the home team hope, it proved to be false, to the delight of Brisbane, who couldn’t be certain of their play-off spot until the final game of the round had been played.

Western Sydney Wanderers had to win their final game at ANZ Stadium to edge out the Queenslanders, but Adelaide United had other ideas, coming from behind to prevail 3-2 in front of 12,122 fans and confirm a fifth-placed finish for themselves.

Oriol Riera gave the home team the ideal start when potting a sixteenth minute penalty, but Papa Baba Diawara’s deft finish five minutes later restored a parity which was maintained until six minutes before half-time, when Daniel Adlung picked out the top corner from inside the ‘D’ to put United in front.

Their lead was short-lived, however, Marcelo Carrusca heading home against his former club to level the scores three minutes later. And Wests should have taken the lead in first half stoppage time, only for Paul Izzo to save Riera’s penalty.

Wests’ hopes weren’t aided when Keanu Baccus was sent off just after the hour mark. Then Ryan Kitto delivered the coup de grace ten minutes from time to the despair of the gathered throngs inside the ground, and the undoubted delight of the Brisbane fans, as well as the Adelaide faithful, who will take on Melbourne Victory in next Sunday’s quarter-final encounter at AAMI Park.

Their placing was confirmed on Friday when reigning champions Sydney FC edged them 1-0 in front of 15,567 fans at Allianz Stadium, where Bobo’s 27th goal of the season just eight minutes into the contest sealed the outcome.

But for the saves of Lawrence Thomas, the Premier Plate winners would likely have won by a bigger margin, although Victory were twice denied a goal by timely Alex Wilkinson goal-line clearances.

That result meant Melbourne City were assured of third place before kicking a ball in anger at Auckland’s QBE Stadium, where 4,312 fans saw Wellington Phoenix stun the title hopefuls, coming from behind to prevail 2-1.

All was going according to the script for City when Bruno Fornaroli curled home an unstoppable twenty-five yarder twenty minutes into the contest. But Wellington weren’t phased, and drew level just after the half-hour mark before taking the lead just shy of the hour, Sarpreet Singh the marksman on both occasions.

The home team had their own agenda – a win would see them avoid the wooden spoon – and after taking the lead they generally kept City at bay, although Dario Vidosic almost scuppered his former club’s hopes when hitting the post with a header in the last minute of stoppage time.

Wellington’s win meant Central Coast Mariners had to get at least a draw against Newcastle Jets in the F3 derby at Central Coast Stadium to avoid the wooden spoon. They ended up becoming part of league history, as 7,604 fans witnessed the visitors romp home 8-2 to record the biggest ever away win by any A-League side.

Once Joey Champness fired Newcastle in front in the tenth minute, there was only going to be one outcome, and Roy O’Donovan and Riley McGree – with the first goal of his hat-trick – underlined the fact before the 25 minute mark had elapsed.

Moments after hitting the post, Connor Pain pulled one back for Central Coast six minutes before half-time, but Newcastle were far from done for the evening, with Lachlan Jackson and Dimitri Petratos also joining in the fun before the final whistle.

O’Donovan potted a penalty to add further salt into his old club’s wounds, while a Trent Buhagiar goal ten minutes from time was all the home team could muster in response on a horror night for Central Coast, and one Joshua Rose will never forget – this was his last game, as he has now retired.

This is the final round review of the season, as next weekend sees the play-offs commencing, with all roads leading to AAMI Park as the quarter-finals take place. Melbourne City take on Brisbane Roar on Friday evening, while Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United square up on Sunday night.

The winners of those matches head to New South Wales on the final weekend of the month, with Sydney’s Allianz Stadium and Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium the host venues for the semi-finals. The Grand Final takes place on the first weekend in May.

Match details

Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (C. Pain (39), T. Buhagiar (80)) – Newcastle United Jets FC 8 (J. Champness (10), R. O’Donovan (20, 68 pen), R. McGree (24, 53, 75), L. Jackson (61), D. Petratos (81)); HT 1-3

Perth Glory FC 2 (A. Taggart (24), “oggie” (86)) – Brisbane Roar FC 3 (Henrique (30, 52), T. Kristensen (40)); HT 1-2

Sydney FC 1 (Bobo (8)) – Melbourne Victory FC 0; HT 1-0

Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (S. Singh (33, 57)) – Melbourne City FC 1 (B. Fornaroli (19)); HT 1-1

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (O. Riera (16 pen), M. Carrusca (42)) – Adelaide United FC 3 (P. Diawara (21), D. Adlung (39), R. Kitto (80)) HT 2-2

Final HAL13 League ladder

P W D L F A GD Pts
[Top 6 into the finals series]

1. Sydney FC 27 20 4 3 64 22 +42 64

2. Newcastle United Jets 27 15 5 7 57 37 +20 50

3. Melbourne City 27 13 4 10 41 33 +8 43

4. Melbourne Victory 27 12 5 10 43 37 +6 41

5. Adelaide United 27 11 6 10 36 38 -2 39

6. Brisbane Roar 27 10 5 12 33 40 -7 35
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7. Western Sydney Wanderers 27 8 9 10 38 47 -9 33

8. Perth Glory 27 10 2 15 37 50 -13 32

9. Wellington Phoenix 27 5 6 16 31 55 -24 21

10. Central Coast Mariners 27 4 8 15 28 49 -21 20