Round 6 Review: Leaders Benefit From Another VAR Fiasco

by Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

HAL 14 – Round 6 Review

Hyundai A-League leaders Perth Glory had their lead halved on the first weekend in December and were fortunate it wasn’t reduced still further when they benefited from yet another instance of misguided Video Assistant Referee interference during their match at Wellington Phoenix.

The home team were good value for their half-time lead at Westpac Stadium – Roy Krishna’s club record 34th goal broke the deadlock just before the interval – and were on course to upset Perth when Ryan Lowry, four minutes after coming on as a substitute, was deemed by the VAR to be guilty of committing a studs-up tackle on Chris Ikonomidis.

The reality was the defender’s momentum from executing a clearance took him into the Perth player. Needless to say, Wellington’s players and coach, Mark Rudan, were livid with the decision, and it was telling that Football Federation Australia took no action re any post-match comments emanating from officials of the NZ-based club – they knew this was never a red card offence.

The decision influenced the outcome, however, substitute Diego Castro equalising eight minutes from time to earn Perth a 1-1 draw from their long trip to Wellington, a match which also featured a collision between Andy Keogh and Filip Kurto which brought an early end to the Wellington ‘keeper’s involvement in proceedings.

Reigning champions Melbourne Victory produced the performance of the season to date to move into second place, two points behind the table-toppers, after they played Western Sydney Wanderers off the park at Marvel Stadium, emerging as 4-0 victors.

19,556 fans were treated to a feast of razzle-dazzle attacking play by Melbourne, for whom Keisuke Honda pulled the strings and deservedly headed home the opener after just eleven minutes.

Twenty minutes later, Raul Baena doubled their advantage before Costa Barbarouses made the game safe from the penalty spot six minutes before half-time. In a match in which Ola Toivonen could have had a hat-trick for the home team, the scoring was concluded in stunning fashion by Terry Antonis, who capped off a fabulous one-touch move with a firecracker finish seven minutes before full-time.

Sydney FC and Adelaide United are both hard on Melbourne’s heels after recording 2-1 victories in their respective matches in the round. Last season’s front-runners came from behind to prevail at Central Coast Stadium in front of 8,386 fans.

Central Coast Mariners opened the scoring on the quarter hour through Matt Simon, about whom a special chapter could be written regarding the history of this fixture! That goal looked to be enough to give the home team the half-time lead, but a clumsy foul by Jack Clisby presented Adam Le Fondre with the chance to equalise from the penalty spot, one he didn’t neglect.

Jop van der Linden rattled Central Coast’s crossbar with a super free-kick just before the hour mark, and Sydney’s pursuit of a winner materialised through Brandon O’Neill, who fair smashed home a twenty-five yard volley to clinch the points.

Another small attendance – 8005 fans – made up the crowd at Coopers Stadium, where two Ben Halloran goals either side of half-time inspired Adelaide United to a 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar, for whom Henrique pegged a goal back half-way through the second spell.

That tells only half the tale, however – this match was a bit of a barnstormer! Brisbane’s Adam Taggart hit the post in the 21st minute, and within fifteen minutes both Ken Ilso – the post – and Taylor Regan – the crossbar – had struck the woodwork for Adelaide.

The goals came next, then the shenanigans, with Regan sent off for eye-gauging Stefan Mauk, who himself lost the plot in stoppage time with a reckless over-the-top lunge on Craig Goodwin which fully merited the straight red card referee Jarred Gillett didn’t hesitate to administer.

Melbourne City moved into double digits on the points table by downing Newcastle Jets 3-0 in front of 6,013 fans at AAMI Park, where Riley McGree gave the home side the perfect start, smashing home a volley inside ninety seconds.

An even better volleyed goal was executed by Luke Brattan from just outside the area on the stroke of half-time, while Lachlan Wales raced clear to wrap up the scoring with fifteen minutes remaining.

Newcastle weren’t without their chances – Jason Hoffman went close on a couple of occasions against his old club – but thanks to this defeat, there is now a distinct gap opening up between the top five and bottom five teams, with the four beaten teams this week all in the lower echelons of the table after six rounds.

This weekend’s action gets under way on Friday with Spotless Stadium playing host to Wests’ clash with Central Coast. Saturday’s fare sees Sydney welcoming Wellington to Jubilee Stadium, while Melbourne Victory and Adelaide meet at Marvel Stadium in a match which live up to its billing.

Perth and Melbourne City lock horns at NIB Stadium in the final match of Saturday’s triple-header, while Sunday’s lone fixture sees Newcastle and Brisbane meeting at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Match Details:

Adelaide United 2 (B. Halloran (43, 49)), Brisbane Roar 1 (Henrique (67)) HT 1-0

Central Coast Mariners 1 (M. Simon (16)), Sydney FC 2 (A. Le Fondre (42 pen), B. O’Neill (65)) HT 1-1

Melbourne City 3 (R. McGree (2), L. Brattan (45), L. Wales (75)), Newcastle Jets 0 HT 3-0

Melbourne Victory 4 (K. Honda (11), R. Baena (31), C. Barbarouses (39 pen), T. Antonis (83)), Western Sydney

Wanderers 0 HT 3-0

Wellington Phoenix 1 (R. Krishna (44)), Perth Glory 1 (D. Castro (82)) HT 1-0

League Ladder:
https://www.a-league.com.au/ladder
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