In A League Of Its Own – Issue 8

Tom’s weekly outlook on the A-League

As a Victorian, it is always nice to see any New South Wales team fail. In the A-League, NSW have three teams: Newcastle Jets, Sydney FC and Central Coast Mariners. Newcastle are most likely going to fold by the season’s end or before next season because of a lack of money that has resulted in players not getting their wages in past weeks. They also haven’t been performing on the field. Sydney FC, last season’s champions, are last and without a win this season, making it the worst start to a defending champion’s campaign in the A-League’s history. Central Coast aren’t going too bad, although they have a very shallow list and will be lucky to make the finals. Will this be the end of NSW’s representation in the finals come season’s end? Or can all three turn it around to give themselves a shot at the title?

Sydney FC travelled to Wellington for Friday night’s clash, where Wellington were looking to continue their dominance at home, having been undefeated in the last 22 games in front of the home fans. The first half was mainly controlled by Wellington, but remained scoreless despite the two English forwards Chris Greenacre and Paul Ifill getting a few good shots off for the Phoenix. Sydney’s Brazilian import Bruno Cazarine seemed to have pushed Tim Brown to the ground before a corner, and Paul Ifill converted the subsequent penalty. Cazarine soon made up for his foul, tidily finishing a one-on-one situation to level things up. Wellington were pressing hard, and it paid off in the 72nd minute, when Nick Ward, yes that’s right, scored a cracker from 25 yards out to hand the three points to the locals and make their home streak 23 games.

At Bluetongue stadium on Saturday, Central Coast hosted Melbourne Heart for what was an intriguing match-up. In their round 1 fixture, the Mariners scraped it 1-0 with their only goal coming early on in the match. The same happened again. Daniel McBreen made it 2 goals in two weeks, nodding home Pedj Bojic’s cross 20 minutes in for thwe only goal of the encounter. Michael Beauchamp got sent off for an early bath 38 minutes from time, when he appeared to headbutt Matt Simon in a confrontation off the ball.

Goalscoring Adelaide United hosted Newcastle Jets on a chilly Saturday night in front of a very quiet crowd early on. Future Socceroo Matthew Leckie headed home a great cross 23 minutes in to put the Reds 1-0 up. Adam D’Apuzzo hammered the upright just before half-time, but then smashed the rebound straight at Reds stopper Eugene Galekovic. Marcos Flores took on about five Newcastle defenders to make it 2-0 65 minutes in. Flores just ran and ran until he hit the postage stamp from a tight angle for a serious contender for goal of the season. Cassio stuffed up in his own 18 yard box, passing it to the only Jets player in that half of the field Sean Rooney, who made no mistake, slotting it home to make the final score 2-1.

The Perth Glory home fans had been treated to some great games this season before Sunday’s one, and they again saw a classic game. An upset was on the cards early, when Jason Culina netted a volley from close range to cap off a half dominated by Gold Coast. Culina could’ve had 3 for the game, as he skied a brilliant opportunity after the ball came out from a corner, he also had a goal disallowed as it was ruled offside, when replays showed that it was nearly too close to call. They didn’t come back to haunt him though, as United held on for a vital 1-0 win if they want to be contenders come March 2011.

I made it 4 weeks in a row at AAMI Park when I saw my Victory take on the new-look Brisbane Roar. In the worst first half I have ever seen, it was clear that Melbourne could take advantage in the second half, as Henrique was subbed early with an injury and forward Reinaldo clearly terribly out of form. The game and crowd burst into life 50 minutes in, when half-time substitute Tommy Pondeljak put a slow but placed shot past former Victory keeper Michael Theoklitos. Ricardinho embarrassed Brisbane defender Luke DeVere, as the international marquee signing stuck his foot between DeVere’s legs to make it 2-0 for the home side. Our first ever AAMI Park win was wrapped up on 71 minutes, when Scotsman Grant Brebner put a powerful drive past poor Theo, who had no chance, allowing a third goal into his onion bag.

This week there are two games at AAMI Park, the first comes tonight at 7.30pm, with Wellington making the trip to Melbourne to face the in form Victory. It should be a close match; two teams with their tail up looking to launch a big finals campaign later on in the season. Then on Sunday, Melbourne Heart take on in town Wellington at 3pm. Get down there, as the tickets are really cheap ($10 for adults in general admission) and are great value.

About Tom Riordan

Tom Riordan is in his second year of a Bachelor of Journalism at Swinburne University. He loves all sports, and plays for Brunswick Cricket Club. He supports the Western Bulldogs and can be found on weekends among half a dozen others in Q38 on the top level of the MCC.

Comments

  1. Nice wrap Tom.

    Do you give Wellington any chance of taking all six points from their two games in Melbourne ?

    Would like to get your opinion on Mike Cockerill’s piece from SMH

    http://www.smh.com.au/sport/a-league/the-enemy-within-no-third-chance-if-the-aleague-takes-a-dive-20100914-15ayp.html

  2. I don’t think Wellington can take the chocolates in tonight’s clash, although may be able to take some momentum into Sunday’s game with a point. Against the Heart, they are a very good chance to win, although the only thing stopping them in my eyes is a 4-day turn around from what is sure to be a gruelling encounter tonight.
    As for Cockerill’s article, well written and all that, but it’s abit obvious all of it, isn’t it? Clearly the A-League’s in strife; indications of this are low crowds, misusage of the main crowd attractor: the Marquee Player syatem and reports of clubs folding. As for his last statement, I do believe that we deserve a professional league. If we’re ranked in the top 25 countries in the world, then we need a top league happening.

  3. Rocket Rod Gillett says:

    Report in yesterday’s SMH by Mick Cockerill of another NSW club folding before it even plays a game…

    Apparently the Sydney Rovers are unable to galvanise funding for the debut season in 2011-2012.

    Looks like you can only go to the well so many times.

  4. Rod, would that be the well that’s supplying the MCG upgrade?

    Tom, you mention nothing about Muscat’s antics. Do you reckon he’s starting to become even more despicable than he ever was. Whilst the Brisbane player did fall awkwardly, the breaking of his arm was aided by Muscat’s needless follow through. There was a tackle in the second half that should have been a straight red. And the way he talks to referees . . . I just don’t get it.

  5. Rocket Rod Gillett says:

    On ya Ian, that gave me a good laugh! Good retort.

    But I’d put it to you that it will be the AFL that sustains the crowds for the upgrades to stadiums for the World Cup – and that the funding will come from us punters that pay tax.

  6. Ian,
    I reckon Muscy is just um… passionate about his football.I’m a fan of him, but then if I wasn’t a fan of my club’s captain I’d be nuts. He gets involved in the game, he’s always “in the zone” and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of physicality on the pitch

  7. Rocket — I’m not sure that the 750,000 people who play soccer are all taxpayers but I reckon those of them that do pay tax and the parents of some others might be happy for some of their money to go to building adequate soccer stadiums.

    Tom — despite ideas to the contrary, soccer is a contact sport in which physical presence and bravery are important. Muscat has a lot of the first but little of the second. When he got Akoto sent off that did it for me. He stood on Akoto’s mouth guard and then fell over like a weakling when Akoto tried to push him out of the way to retrieve it. There are two factions in the soccer community: those who think that’s clever and those who think it’s an act of canine proportions. I’m with the latter

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