Almanac Soccer – War and Peace (and A-League): Round 26

 

Both Melbourne sides lock in home finals, Perth Glory just won’t flush and Sydney FC aren’t holding back. It’s the penultimate round of the A-League.

 

 

NEWCASTLE JETS 0 PERTH GLORY 2 (Castro 9 Taggart 27)

 

Perth Glory’s season just won’t die after a 2-0 win in Newcastle against a quickly fading Newcastle Jets.

 

In front of a disappointing crowd the Jets may have second place all wrapped up again in an awful performance in front of their home fans, not scoring for a second week in a row. Glory’s early goal seemed to mean that Merrick’s men were chasing the game for 83 minutes of the match. Glory left back and former Southampton product Joe Mills was brought down when up in the air trying to head a ball and a penalty was given. The penalty was put away by Diego Castro.

 

Returning midfield star Ronny Vargas went close for the Jets as well as Castro at the other end but on 26 minutes Glory had a second. Castro’s pass split a meek Jets defence apart, letting Joel Chianese take the ball and square it to Adam Taggart who tapped in a simple goal against his old club. Half chances came to both sides during the rest of the game but ultimately it fizzled out.

 

Disappointment again in the Hunter for the home side while Glory take their season in to the final week much to the chagrin of a lot of their own supporters wanting change at the top.

 

 

WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS 3 (Riera 4, 15 Ikonomidis 43) BRISBANE ROAR 0 

 

In the most important game of the round the Wanderers now have their destiny in their own hands after belting a disappointing Roar side 3-0 at the Olympic Stadium.

 

It was the first half effort by Wanderers that blew the Roar out of the water. After only three minutes Oriel Riera headed in a free kick and then doubled his and the team’s tally around the quarter mark when he tapped in a loose ball after his initial header had been saved. Wanderers toyed with the Roar defence who, all of a sudden were back to some of their worse earlier in the season having Jamie Young in goal save their blushes.

 

In the minutes before half time there was a third for the Wanderers when Socceroo Chris Ikonomidis headed in from close range thanks to more Geelong at Optus Stadium yesterday standard defending. Roar improved in the second half carving out chances but there was no way back bumbling around in the first half. Wanderers now have to really stuff it up to not make the finals. Roar will need to win in Perth and hope for a miracle from the Reds.

 

 

MELBOURNE CITY 1 (Fornaroli 49) CENTRAL COAST MARINERS 0 

 

Melbourne City will host their third home final in as many years with a tight but expected 1-0 win over the bottom feeding Mariners. It was again their captain and talisman Bruno Fornaroli who was the difference scoring just a few minutes in to the second half with a wonderful hit from the edge of the area. This was after he had to control the ball after it was hit at him with some venom from the left.

 

City deserved the lead after numerous chances in the first half and it continued after the goal with Ben Kennedy saving twice. Everything that went City’s way went through Fornaroli who is really hitting the form he showed in the first two seasons and now filling that rather chunky hole left by Scottish International Ross McCormack.

 

City to host one of Adelaide, Wanderers, Glory or Brisbane hoping they can get third and a spot in the Asian Champions League. The Mariners forgettable once again.

 

 

MELBOURNE VICTORY 2 (George 83 Athiu 87) WELLINGTON PHOENIX 1 (Broxham 23 OG)

 

Victory will join City in hosting a final in the first week after seeing off Wellington Phoenix 2-1 at AAMI Park but jeez they had to work for it.

 

Victory were expected to win and were all over Phoenix from the start with young starlet Chris Theoharous almost setting up Terry Antonis to score in the early stages. On 23 minutes Phoenix had a shock lead though and it was an awful blunder. From a corner Victory couldn’t clear and in the scramble to get rid of the ball club stalwart Leigh Broxham, managed to slide the ball in to his own net for a quite bizarre own goal.

 

It would could have been 2-0 when Roy Krishna’s fierce shot went wide with the Victory rattled.

 

In the second half Victory huffed and puffed but Phoenix were resilient and a tight unit belying their spot on the ladder. Then with seven minutes to go a simple mistake typical of said team in said position on the ladder let the Victory back in. A stray leg needlessly put out by a Phoenix defender caught speedy sub Kenny Athiu and a penalty was given. Leroy George, with Rhys Williams by far the best player for Victory this season, made no mistake from the spot.

 

Phoenix now looked ragged and Victory were all over them like a cheap suit. With minutes to go Theohaurus (in for fellow Antipodean-Greek Barbarouses) was sent off down the left and his floated cross cleared the knackered Phoenix defence to an unmarked Athiu who scored his first ever A-League goal marking his journey from the local leagues to the top league complete.

 

A scare for Victory but a home final awaits them along with a battle for that pivotal third place in the final week. The Phoenix showed heart at least.

 

 

SYDNEY FC 3 (Simon 45 Bobo ADELAIDE UNTIED 0

 

Following their massive win in the Asian Champions League in South Korea during the week, you would have expected Graham Arnold’s men to take it easy on a home final seeking United but stepping on the throat of their opposition is what this side does best.

 

The Sky Blues have top spot wrapped up and a massive final group stage game in the ACL to come but destroyed the Reds who now will have to travel in the finals. United did hold out for 99% of the first half limited Sydney FC’s chances to a simple miss for Adrian Mierzejewski. The Polish superstar managed to make up for it though with his classy turn in the middle of the pitch starting a move that ended with Sky Blue clubman and general nasty boy Matt Simon heading his second goal in three weeks after not scoring in the A-League for well over a season.

 

This seemed to break the resolve of United who already may have had seeds of doubt growing after victories to both Melbourne sides earlier in the round. 14 minutes in to the second it was 2-0 and again it was the big Brazilian Bobo who headed home. He then had yet another brace seven minutes later when a Milos Ninkovic shot was blocked and fell to his feet scoring with aplomb and breaking the record of most goals in a single A-League season.

 

Sydney FC march on and are back to their best. United now condemned to travelling to Melbourne for the first week on the finals.

 

 

TABLE (1 round to go)

 

Sydney FC*                                                   +41       61 pts

Newcastle Jets+                                            +14      47 pts

Melbourne City#                                          +9         43 pts

Melbourne Victory#                                     +7         41 pts

Adelaide United#                                          -3           36 pts

Western Sydney Wanderers                     -8           33 pts

——————————————————————-

Brisbane Roar                                               -8           32 pts

Perth Glory                                                  -12         32 pts

Central Coast Mariners^                           -15          20 pts

Wellington Phoenix^                                  -25           18 pts

*-Champions

+-Qualified for finals. Will finish second

#-Qualified for finals

^-Cannot make the Top 6

 

 

SACRED COW OF THE ROUND – Bobo

 

Have waxed lyrical about the big man on here before but now he is a record breaker after a stellar season.

 

Yes, some are from the penalty spot and playing for a side wiping the floor with the rest of the league. Saying that though 26 goals in 26 games is bloody impressive though breaking the record set by Bruno Fornaroli a couple of years ago. The former Turkish and Brazilian League star is a credit to the league.

 

 

CLOWN OF THE ROUND – The final staggered round. 

 

I guess if this was a league that wanted to be like Europe they wouldn’t even have finals but, hey, this is Australia. In all ‘proper’ league around the world the final round is always played at the same time to stop collusion and to make it more exciting at the top and bottom of the league. Remember Manchester City in 2012 with Aguerro’s last second finish? Lazio in 2000 with the fans invading the ground and listening to the end of the Juve game on transister radios to see if they’re champions? The many relegation escapes of sides grateful for another season in the top division? Not in the A-League.

 

When Wanderers kick off on Sunday arvo their fate may already be decided with Glory playing Brisbane the night before. The Melbourne sides could have traded places in their respective games many times over the 90 minutes with prize of Asian Champions League football at stake. This could have all been a great narrative with the red button on the Foxtel remote there so people can switch between the big blue, City’s home game, Glory and Brisbane, Wanders and the Reds and the F3 Derby.

 

There’s ground availability issues and the almighty Foxtel to bow to but it’s another reason fans of the game that could qualify as purists say thanks but no thanks to Australia’s top domestic competition with this sport.

 

 

TOTAL GOALS FOR THE ROUND – 12 (Season Total 385. Av 2.96 goals per game)

 

 

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT WEEK –

 

With top spot and top four decided there isn’t much to write home about apart from the battle for the final spot in the Top 6. The Top 6 shouldn’t exist in a 10 team comp but hey, Glory host Brisbane on Saturday night with a Glory win meaning they will have the spot if Wanderers can’t win against an Adelaide side with nothing to play for. If Roar win same thing. If it’s a draw Wanderers will only need a point to get in.

 

The Melbourne sides will battle over third place and the money spinning Asian Champions League spot too. City would like their chances hosting Phoenix who are set for a wooden spoon while Victory will have to travel to Sydney FC to play the champs and watch their most hated rivals lift the trophy for finishing top.

 

 

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Comments

  1. Peter Fuller says:

    Thanks again, Dennis for the informative summary. City are visiting the windy city rather than hosting, but we still should be OK. We’re running into form, and I’m dreaming that we might do a Richmond and be the best team for the coming three weeks. It isn’t likely, but City are the form team other than Sydney, and Victory sent them to penalties in the Grand Final last year, when the sky blues were only slightly inferior to this year’s model.
    I agree with you about the proper end of the season (Sydney deserve to be champions without this playoffs palaver and the need for all final round games to be played simultaneously is so obvious that I’m reminded of Brian Matthews’ brilliant observation about Aussie Rules: “it’s a great game, it will take some really first-rate bad management to stuff it up.” Australian soccer has shown a genius for that.

  2. Apologies I though both Melbourne sides were in Melbourne this weekend.

    I agree City will be okay and may well have third place confirmed anyway by kick off time if Sydney FC take out the Victory the night before. City and an in form Bruno Fornaroli are the only ones that can stop the champs I think but that’s swung between the Victory, City and Jets all season.

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