After a blistering start to the 2012-13 season, the A-League slowed almost to a halt at the weekend with just 6 goals scored in 5 games. Half of those came in the top of the table clash which saw Central Coast beat Adelaide United 2-1 at a sweltering Bluetongue Stadium to go top after 9 rounds. With both the Mariners and Adelaide’s keepers away with the Socceroos for their East Asia Cup adventure, youngster Paul Izzo made his first professional experience and made important saves throughout the game. Bruce Djite managed to fire the Reds into the lead early in the encounter with a well-placed strike beating Justin Pasfield low to his left. After wayward attempts on goal from both sides, Mariners left back Josh Rose managed to finally get the job done when he blasted his shot through Izzo. The heat was clearly effecting the players’ concentration with mistakes and poor decision making common all over the park, until Nick Montgomery volleyed home the winner with 15 minutes left.
Many are calling for a major review of the referees’ performances after incidents at both Sydney and Brisbane’s games were poorly handled by the men in charge. The standard of refs in Australia isn’t near as good as they should be for a competition of our size, and the hesitations and blatantly incorrect calls are becoming more obvious week by week. There were far too many occasions on the weekend where balls clearly had or hadn’t crossed the line and neither one of the officials could make the simple call. It detracts from the game when you have these incidents which may not have a major outcome on the end result but definitely affect the fluency and quality of the game being played. Teams are now starting to take advantage of that by being able to do things off the ball which may otherwise get them a foul. This was shown in the lead-up to and during the fiery Brisbane versus Newcastle game on the weekend after comments were made during the week that the Jets would physically target Besart Berisha in an attempt to exploit his fragile personality. Brisbane took the lead 40 minutes in when Berisha converted a penalty given to the Roar for a professional foul by Jets youngster Josh Mitchell, who picked up a yellow card in the process. Just before halftime, Mitchell hit the turf when Tomas Broich appeared to lightly bodycheck him after competing for the ball. Mitchell reacted angrily by shoving Broich, sparking scenes that saw Erik Paartalu bundle Mitchell over as players from all over the field came in for the push and shove. The referee reacted by handing Mitchell his second yellow and showing Broich a straight red, while Paartalu escaped with a yellow card for the most violent act of the encounter. Ben Halloran had claims for a penalty in the second half while the score line stayed the same, handing Brisbane a much needed victory.
The Frank Farina era at Sydney FC has begun with a stalemate with Melbourne Heart at the SFS that saw more referee controversy. After conceding 16 goals in 4 weeks, Ivan Necevski was given a spell in favour of debutant Vedran Janjetovic who kept the club’s first clean sheet of the season. Alessandro Del Piero was typically dangerous before removing himself from the pitch with hamstring soreness. Heart youngster Ben Garuccio was crudely hacked down by Fabio late in the game, but didn’t even see a card for what was one of the worst tackles of the year. Launching a rightfully scathing attack after the game, Heart manager john Aloisi made a point of mentioning how no action gets taken when errors like this are made by the referee and that it is “not good” that he is now left with one less player for the next game while the other one goes unpunished.
Melbourne Victory has beaten Perth on its return to AAMI Park 1-0 without national starts Archie Thompson and Mark Milligan. In a game that shows just how far the Victory has come since their 5-0 shellacking at the hands of Brisbane when missing similar players, Marco Rojas split the deadlock with a fabulous first time hit which dipped perfectly over Glory stopper Danny Vukovic. Shane Smeltz avoided any cautioning for his clearly intentional elbow to the head of Billy Celeski, who was rightfully unhappy after the incident just brushed off by both Smeltz and the officials. Smeltz, returning from injury, had another shocking game and had to resort to disgraceful acts like that to keep him occupied for the game. For most of the night he looked like a heckler who happened to be out on the field wearing a Glory shirt, and was about as useless as a radio to a deaf man. Perth manager Ian Ferguson could have used his missing stars Liam Miller, Michael Thwaite and Jacob Burns as excuses for the loss after the game, instead choosing to make the point that his whole squad just isn’t quite up to scratch.
One of the windiest games in recent years has seen Jeremy Brockie net his 6th goal of the last 5 games to elevate Wellington back into the 6 with a 1-0 win over the Western Sydney Wanderers. Brockie played an early cross high into the area, but what would otherwise be an easy claim for Wanderers keeper Ante Covic was made far more difficult by the wind making the ball dip and bounce past Covic and into the net. Western Sydney had 2 good shouts for penalties turned down in another game partially marred by poor refereeing.