Following the completion of a controversial 4th round of the A-League the 2 Melbourne teams, Heart and Victory, sit 9th and 10th respectively. For both teams the issues lie with the quality of their players all over the park. Heart has been only able to score 3 goals in their 4 games so far this season, pointing to a lack of cohesion up front. Captain Fred has been exceptionally poor in taking opportunities in front of goal, highlighted on the weekend when he failed to round Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Mat Ryan when he could have taken the early shot and scored. The game’s only goal came off the boot of defender Pedj Bojic just after halftime when his free-kick whistled through Clint Bolton’s fingertips and into the net. Heart striker Josip Tadi? did nothing to convince anyone that he’s in the right sport as Richard Garcia and Matt Thompson were again carrying a lacklustre team through 90 minutes.
While Victory hasn’t exactly been filling the onion bag, they have been creating many more opportunities than Heart and have looked more potent in the final third. Victory’s issues are well and truly down back. The Victory has conceded 10 goals in 4 games and has had a different goalkeeper in each of their past 3. Centre-halves Mark Milligan, arguably been Victory’s best player, skipper Adrian Leijer and recently brought in Petar Franjic haven’t been doing a good enough defensive job to hold their head high and haven’t been providing a decent enough platform from which their teammates can build. Marco Rojas and Archie Thompson were both creative in the 2-1 loss away to Newcastle on Friday night however not only were they not on the same page but they weren’t in the same chapter for some of the crosses that went in to the box in the first half. Jets goalkeeper Mark Birighitti still had saves to make, and good ones too, but it appeared that it wasn’t to be Victory’s night. The trend continued in the second half while up the other end Emile Heskey scored his 3rd and 4th goals of the season in quick succession to put Melbourne Victory in an all too familiar place away from home. Archie Thompson got one back 70 minutes in when he timed his header from a miscued clearance to perfection, placing a seed of doubt in the minds of the 14,000 fans at Hunter Stadium. The win gave Newcastle its best points tally after 4 matches in their history and is a possible sign of things to come.
On paper, Adelaide defeated Wellington 3-1 at home and Wellington’s Ben Sigmund was sent off with the score at 2-1. It really isn’t that simple. Stein Huysegems opened the scoring for the Phoenix after he brought the ball down from a lofted through-ball and finished to perfection. Jeronimo Neumann then levelled the scores when he buried a deflected shot 10 minutes after halftime. Then the game saw its first controversy. Jeremy Brockie thought that he had put the Phoenix ahead when he headed past Eugene Galekovic; however the assistant referee ruled it to be incorrectly offside. Then came even more controversy; Cassio’s outstanding run from inside his own half resulted in a one-two with Jeronimo ,who received the initial pass from Cassio in an offside position, and the Brazilian left back buried the goal to put the hosts ahead on his 100th appearance. 77 minutes in, Sigmund saw red after he was adjudged to have tugged at Jeronimo’s shirt as the last man, when really he was hardly touched and dived to sway the referee who was some 40 metres away. The upshot of that incident was Wellington’s Captain Andrew Durante labelling Jeronimo (rightfully) a cheat and also blaming the assistant referee for not involving himself on the issue at the time. Jeronimo of all people went on to score another courtesy of a brilliant through ball from Dario Vidosic and send the Reds top of the league.
Western Sydney has caused the biggest upset in Australian sport in the last 5 years (welcome to debate) by beating champions Brisbane Roar on their home turf for their first ever win, scoring the only goal in their history to win 1-0. The Wanderers completely dominated the first 40 minutes as they had 9 corners to nil in the first half. Mark Bridge was the scorer after a well-directed cross found his head just 20 minutes in. Mitch Nichols hit the upright for the Roar in what was a frustrating night for the Roar.
Alessandro Del Piero has again scored a decisive goal as the Sky Blues beat Perth Glory 2-1. Travis Dodd capitalised on some shy defending by Sydney to waltz in and score 18 minutes into the game. Perth Glory was reduced to 10 men when Steve Pantelidis dragged Del Piero down in the box just before the hour mark. Del Piero calmly slotted the resulting penalty and with the goal it gave Sydney the favouritism and momentum heading into the last half hour. Brett Emerton converted that into a wonderfully well taken winning goal after Rhyan Grant won the ball from Jacob Burns who was stalling on the ball in his own half.
In what is a really good idea by Melbourne Victory, Melbourne Cup eve sees Wellington Phoenix travel to Etihad Stadium for a 7.30pm kick-off with the 2-time champions. Get down there to hopefully see an improved Victory finish their good work and a fired up Wellington look to continue their positive start.