Round 17 Review: Goals galore grace seventeenth round action

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of

HAL 14 – Round 17 Review

Goals were the name of the game in Hyundai A-League seventeenth round action as the competition moved into February, with 23 scored in the five games played, two of them featuring remarkable comebacks by the winning sides.

Pride of place in this regard goes to Adelaide United, who came from 3-0 down at home to Brisbane Roar to triumph 4-3 in front of 7,071 disbelieving fans at Coopers Stadium in what will always be regarded as an all-time-classic A-League encounter.

United were on the back foot from the outset, reduced to ten men just nine minutes into play when Ken Ilso was dismissed for a studs-up tackle. Brisbane wasted little time in taking advantage of their numerical superiority, Henrique firing them in front ten minutes later, but only after the Video Assistant Referee had intervened – the scorer had initially been deemed offside.

Three goals in the last seven minutes of the half made life very interesting indeed, with Dylan Wenzel-Halls doubling Brisbane’s lead before Adam Taggart, with his fiftieth A-League goal, unleashed a twenty yard screamer to make it 3-0 – a scoreline no trailing team had ever come back from in A-League premiership history.

Until this match. Isaias’ stoppage time free-kick sparked the revival, and after both Craig Goodwin and Mirko Boland had gone close, Brisbane were reduced to nine men via separate incidents – Dane Ingham kicked the ball away for his second bookable offence of the night, while Brisbane goalkeeper Jamie Young was sent off for taking out Goodwin in what was a goalscoring opportunity half-way through the half.

Brendan White took over twixt the sticks for the visitors, and his first task was to fish the ball out of his net, Goodwin having planted it there following the free-kick awarded following Young’s challenge.

George Blackwood then headed Adelaide level with fifteen minutes remaining to set up a stirring finale, during which Jordan Elsey headed over the bar when scoring seemed the easier option.

Nikola Mileusnic showed his team-mate how to do it in the seventh minute of stoppage time, his header completing the most incredible comeback in A-League history as ten-man Adelaide came from three goals down to prevail 4-3 over nine-man Brisbane, whose nightmare season surely can’t get any worse.

Not far behind that amazing feat was that achieved by reigning champions Melbourne Victory, who found themselves two goals down at half-time to Central Coast Mariners, but came storming home in the second half to prevail 3-2 at Central Coast Stadium.

Just 5,223 fans were on hand to witness a genuine game of two halves, with Central Coast bossing things throughout the opening stanza, especially after Andrew Hoole had opened the scoring via a breathtaking thirty yard free-kick in the eighteenth minute.

Superb saves by Lawrence Thomas denied both Connor Pain and Jacob Melling inside the next twenty minutes, with Matt Millar denied a goal by the post in between times.

Deep in first half stoppage time, Hoole doubled the Mariners’ advantage with another superb free-kick, but Melbourne were swiftly out of the blocks in the second spell, James Troisi taking just five minutes to halve the deficit.

It was wiped out completely in bizarre circumstances half-way through the second half. Moments after hitting the bar, Kenny Athiu lobbed the ball goalwards after Ben Kennedy had parried a shot into his path. The ‘keeper’s despairing attempts to recover and turn the ball past the post only saw him bundle it into his own net.

That set up a grandstand finish, with Matt Simon going close for Central Coast as they looked to end a six-year drought against Melbourne Victory – they’ve never beaten them in all that time. And that run was extended by the visitors in the dying minutes, Costa Barbarouses striking two minutes from time to complete Melbourne’s stunning come-from-behind triumph.

Hard on the title-holders’ heels are Sydney FC, who eased to a 2-0 win over Melbourne City in front of 13,029 fans at Jubilee Stadium, where Luke Ivanovic gave them the perfect start after nine minutes.

On the stroke of half-time, the post prevented Paulo Retre from doubling their advantage with the most deft of back-heeled flicks, while after the break, Rostyn Griffiths went close to levelling the scores, only to be denied by a fine reflex save from Andrew Redmayne.

Sydney’s ‘keeper covered himself in further glory eleven minutes from time, saving Riley McGree’s penalty, by which time new Sydney signing Mitch Austin had covered himself in ignominy, hitting the post with an open goal at his mercy on his debut.

Adam Le Fondre had engineered that opportunity, and he it was who clinched the points for the home team with four minutes remaining in what was their final home game at this venue.

Leaders Perth Glory cruised to a 3-0 win over an under-strength Wellington Phoenix side at HBF Park, but even had the visitors been able to field their first choice side, they would have struggled to contain the Diego Castro-inspired table-toppers, who would have won by more but for the goalkeeping exploits of Filip Kurto.

Things might have been different, however, had David Williams not been denied by both Matthew Spiranovic and the crossbar in the opening seventy seconds – an early Wellington goal would have made life interesting for the 9,148 fans present.

But bereft of Andrew Durante (suspended), Steven Taylor (ill) and Mandi Sosa (paternity leave), Wellington were overpowered by a Perth side in which Castro pulled the strings to perfection, and Shane Lowry, Chris Ikonomidis – he also hit the bar – and Andy Keogh led the celebrations, the last-mentioned doing so for the fiftieth time in the club’s history.

Of the teams below Wellington on the table, only Newcastle Jets look to be capable of mustering a late bid for a play-off place after thrashing Western Sydney Wanderers 5-1 at ANZ Stadium, where just 7,594 fans gathered in the rain to watch the capitulation of the one-time Asian Champions League winners.

Things could have been different had Oriol Riera found a way past Glen Moss early doors, but two goals in four minutes from Dimitri Petratos and Jason Hoffman had the visitors in charge half-way through the first half.

Right on half-time, Roy O’Donovan made it 3-0, tucking home the rebound after Vedran Janjetovic had saved his penalty. The Irishman made no mistake from the spot on the hour, which made the score 5-0, Matthew Ridenton having struck another four minutes after half-time on a night Western Sydney will want to forget.

Debutant Mitchell Duke offered them a ray of hope, however, pulling one back twenty minutes from time, then seeing an attempt for a brace of goals on the night superbly turned away at the death by Moss, who denied the home team on a few other occasions as their winless streak extended to a tenth match.

Newcastle and Wellington kick things off on Thursday evening at McDonald Jones Stadium – a must-win for the home side as they bid to overhaul the visitors on the league standings.

Brisbane welcome Sydney to Suncorp Stadium on Friday evening, while Saturday’s fare sees Western Sydney and Central Coast clashing at Spotless Stadium prior to the clash of Melbourne City and Adelaide at AAMI Park, a venue which will host the showdown between the top two on Sunday night.

Match details:

Adelaide United FC 4 (Isaias (45), C. Goodwin (67), G. Blackwood (75), N. Mileusnic (90)) – Brisbane Roar FC 3 (Henrique (19), D. Wenzel-Halls (38), A. Taggart (43)); HT 1-3

Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (A. Hoole (18, 45)) – Melbourne Victory 3 (J. Troisi (50), “oggie” (68), C. Barbarouses (88)); HT 2-0

Perth Glory FC 3 (S. Lowry (19), C. Ikonomidis (35), A. Keogh (64)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 0; HT 2-0

Sydney FC 2 (L. Ivanovic (9), A. Le Fondre (86)) – Melbourne City FC 0; HT 1-0

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (M. Duke (69)) – Newcastle United Jets FC 5 (D. Petratos (18), J. Hoffman (22), R. O’Donovan (45, 59 pen), M. Ridenton (49)); HT 0-3

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