R15: Bottom three make statements with wins

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

Hyundai A-League – Season 2013/2014 – Round 15 Review

The bottom three teams in the Hyundai A-League captured the spotlight in fifteenth round action with victories over rivals in play-off places which served to highlight that the race for the top six is only just warming up.

Bottom-placed Melbourne Heart finally savoured the joy of a three-point haul this season, coming from behind to down Newcastle Jets 3-1 at AAMI Park, much to the delight of the 5.046 fans who had stayed loyal to the cause throughout the duration of their record-equalling winless streak.

It seemed likely to stretch to twenty games when Taylor Regan’s unchallenged header found the net eight minutes before half-time to give Newcastle the lead, but Melbourne had gone close on a couple of occasions prior to that goal, and come the half-time whistle, had turned things round in fine fashion.

Iain Ramsay’s deflected effort brought about parity, while Mate Dugandzic’s close-range header put the home team in front on the stroke of the half-time whistle. And when the latter steered home an expertly taken second twenty minutes from time for the Harry Kewell-inspired Heart, the result was beyond doubt – indeed, they could have won by more, but for Mark Birighitti’s exploits twixt the sticks.

Across the Tasman, Wellington Phoenix produced one of the finest performances in their history when mauling Melbourne Victory 5-0 at Westpac Stadium, to the delight of the 6,813 fans present.

Carlos Hernandez opened the scoring against his old club in the eighteenth minute, but it wasn’t until just before half-time that Wellington made their dominance count on the scoreboard.

Kenny Cunningham’s stunning thirty yard volleyed strike was swiftly followed by a penalty from Hernandez to leave the home team on easy street. By the final whistle, even former Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick could afford a smile, goals in the last ten minutes from substitute Jeremy Brockie and Stein Huysegems – a superbly taken strike – securing the points for the Albert Riera-inspired Wellingtonians.

Melbourne’s performance contrasted starkly with that produced four days earlier at AAMI Park, where they swept aside Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1 in front of 14,774 fans, with all the goals coming in the second spell.

Searing forty-degree heat greeted the players at kick-off, with Melbourne’s Andrew Nabbout lasting just fourteen minutes before he became the latest addition to the home team’s injury list, Dean Heffernan knocking out the youngster by accidentally kicking him in the head when attempting to turn home a corner.

There was a lengthy delay to proceedings after this incident, and in truth, the game never really got going again till after half-time. It took Archie Thompson just seven minutes in the second spell to break the deadlock, and when Costa Barbarouses doubled Melbourne’s advantage ten minutes later, Western Sydney’s hopes of closing to within a point of the league lead were dashed.

Tomi Juric pulled a goal back for the visitors in stoppage time, but straight from the kick-off, Guilherme Finkler restored Melbourne’s two-goal advantage in this rescheduled nineteenth round fixture, the win lifting them into third spot on the table.

If that was the most emphatic victory of the round, the 1-0 triumph recorded by Adelaide United over Western Sydney Wanderers made the most impact on the league table.

Marcelo Carrusca’s fourth minute goal ultimately proved to be the decisive moment in this contest, and propelled Adelaide from ninth, at the start of play, up to fifth, ahead of Perth Glory on goal difference and just six points behind Western Sydney, who have won just once in their last five fixtures.

League leaders Brisbane Roar were reduced to ten men for the second week running, but this time earned a scoreless draw at Perth after Besart Berisha had let his team-mates down with two brain explosions inside the opening half-hour.

The 11,026 fans present at NIB Stadium were quick to give the Albanian the bird after he twice clattered into Michael Thwaite, and referee Kris Griffith-Jones had no choice but to send off the striker – he wouldn’t have been doing his job properly if he had acted otherwise!

Perth were unable to make their numerical superiority count, with Brisbane going closest to scoring when Henrique hit the bar soon after the interval. The point the visitors earned was Brisbane’s first draw of the campaign, and leaves them well clear of the chasing pack.

Sydney FC’s Brett Emerton announced his retirement late in the week, injury bringing an end to his illustrious career. His club hoped to mark his departure on a fitting note, but they were well off-form when going down 1-0 in front of 16,006 fans at Allianz Stadium against a Central Coast Mariners side which could have won by more.

Daniel McBreen’s sixth minute header, cleared off the line by Corey Gameiro, was the pick of the chances spurned by the reigning champions, who finally broke the deadlock just before the hour mark, Mile Sterjovski’s deflected strike settling the contest.

The offside flag denied Ranko Despotovic an equaliser for Sydney, who have now won just once in their last seven matches. Naturally, the spotlight is turning on the coach once more – Frank Farina, this time round.

But the frequency with which these form crises seem to strike one of the A-League’s glamour clubs suggests that the real source of the problem is far more deep-seated, and not the sort of thing which can be resolved by mere cosmetic surgery, e.g. changing key personnel.

Next weekend’s action kicks off with the clash of Brisbane and Wellington at Suncorp Stadium on Friday evening. Adelaide and Melbourne Heart clash at Coopers Stadium in the first of two Saturday night matches, the other being a New South Wales derby between Central Coast and Newcastle at Bluetongue Stadium.

Sunday’s fare sees Melbourne Victory and Sydney locking horns at Etihad Stadium, before Western Sydney and Perth draw swords at Pirtek Stadium to wrap up the Australia Day weekend round of matches.

Match details:

Brought Forward:
Melbourne Victory FC 3 (A. Thompson (52), C. Barbarouses (62), G. Finkler (90)) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (T. Juric (90)); HT 0-0

Round 15
Melbourne Heart FC 3 (I. Ramsay (44), M. Dugandzic (45, 69)) – Newcastle Jets FC 1 (T. Regan (37)); HT 2-1
Perth Glory FC 0 – Brisbane Roar FC 0
Wellington Phoenix FC 5 (C. Hernandez (18, 45 pen), K. Cunningham (45), J. Brockie (85), S. Huysegems (88)) – Melbourne Victory FC 0; HT 3-0
Sydney FC 0 – Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (M. Sterjovski (58)); HT 0-0
Adelaide United FC 1 (M. Carrusca (4)) – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0; HT 1-0

P W D L F A GD Pts
Brisbane Roar 15 10 1 4 28 13 +15 31
Western Sydney Wanderers 16 7 5 4 17 15 +2 26
Central Coast Mariners 15 6 6 3 14 15 -1 24
Melbourne Victory 16 6 5 5 22 22 0 23
Adelaide United 15 5 5 5 22 20 +2 20
Perth Glory 15 5 5 5 15 14 -1 20
Newcastle Jets 15 5 4 6 15 17 -2 19
Sydney FC 15 6 1 8 17 22 -5 19
Wellington Phoenix 15 4 5 6 20 18 +2 17
Melbourne Heart 15 1 5 9 12 26 -14 8
By Jeremy Ruane

National Youth League – Round 12
AIS 1 (Marc Marino 9’) – Melbourne Victory FC 2 (Anthony Proia 54’, John Maclean 63’)
Melbourne Heart FC 0 – Newcastle Jets FC 0
Perth Glory FC 0 – Brisbane Roar FC 5 (Ingham 13′ pen, 78′ pen, Borrello 20′, 29′, Sibatuara 64′)
Adelaide United FC 3 (Costa 48′, 62′, Mileusnic 74′) – Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Barresi 82′)

Sydney FC 2 (Mitch Mallia 33’, Chris Naumoff 36’) – Central Coast Mariners 0

Womens National League – Round 9

Perth Glory FC 3 (Elisa D’Ovidio 31’, Rosie Sutton 45’+3, Marianna Tabain 67’) – Newcastle Jets FC 2 (Tara Andrews 20’, Sophie Nenadovic 28’)
Canberra United FC 3 (Heyman 16′, Ochs 32′, A Sykes 61′) – Adelaide United FC 0
Sydney FC 4 (Kete 18′, L Khamis 20′, Taylor 44’/79′) – Brisbane Roar FC 0
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (Seaman 85′) – Melbourne Victory FC (OG 36′) ‪1