War and Peace (and A-League) – Round 3

ADELAIDE UNITED 2 (Lia 23, 62) MELBOURNE VICTORY 2(Berisha 13 Austin 82)

Title fancies Melbourne Victory got out of jail avoiding a third straight loss in their 2-2 draw against United.

The some would say traditional rivals both scored early with Berisha off the mark for the season heading home from a George free kick. His celebration was his usual reserved unprovocative style.

The star striker’s goal was cancelled out by a spectacular finish from Vince Lia from the edge of the box on 23 minutes; his left foot finish after a lay off hit with as much gusto and venom as when he has gone in on a tackle on someone. Vince isn’t a player who will be part of many highlight reels unless it’s a compilation of card generating tackles. The robust midfielder then had United in front on 62 minutes with another great finish, the first time effort connecting so sweetly. Lia will never score goals like that again.

Victory persisted though and Mitch Austin was brought on to give the away team a bit more bite. With 8 minutes to go Berisha collected the ball in the area with his back to the goal. He then tried to spin around to shoot but the shot was blocked. Never mind though, the loose ball fell to Austin who slotted it home. Victory then searched for a winner as United surprisingly went back in to their shell after finishing so well in their first two games.

Impressive again from United who are going from the more tikki takka crab like sideways passing Spanish way to a more direct German style of football under their new boss Marco Kurz.

Victory still seem a little off. Rash tackles, soft goals and a general lack of discipline all apparent. Perhaps Rhys Williams should have seen red (and not for the first time this season) with his scrapping that was Crowley-like at times. Berisha is likely to have a stint on the sidelines for manhandling an assistant referee also. Kurz was quoted after the match to be saying that the game ‘waz more like ze footee’ such was Victory’s inability to cope with United’s pressure.

A high pressure game that delivered. A pity that the crowd wasn’t up to scratch in such a great venue.

 

MELBOURNE CITY 1 (McCormack 69) WELLINGTON PHOENIX 0

City kept their 100% record intact with another grinding victory. A rather decent free kick from Scottish international Ross McCormack was the different between City and Phoenix with the kiwis unlucky to not get something out of the game playing better football for large periods of the game and fluffing their lines with offered great chances to score.

Serbian striker Andrija Kaluderovic missed one particularly decent chance. The energetic Fijian Roy Krishna also smashed a shot against the post and Dario Vidosic again showed how much of an asset he is for Australian football when he gets consistent games like he is for Phoenix at the moment.

Like what was said last week City would have dropped points in a game like this but under Warren Joyce they seem to have a bit more spine and grit but then again it’s very early in the season.

 

For after winning the title he was known as Arnold the Arrogant.

SYDNEY FC 2 (Bobo 38, Brilliante 61) WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS 2 (Riera 2 Hamill 30)

The first Sydney derby of the season has been run but no one won following a 2-2 draw. Wanderers are still under the temporary care of Hadyn Foxe but were the better team in the first half bending the champions out of shape tactically and dangerous from dead ball situations. Only after a few minutes it was 1-0 to Wanderers when the prolific Spaniard Oriol Riera scored third goal in three games following a delicate glancing header.

Then on 30 minutes it was 2-0 when Brendan Hamill scored from a free kick, the defender being used in a bevvy of different roles at Wanderers and giving the team some much needed flexibility. With the red and black masses from West of 33°51?54?S 151°12?34?E very happy at one end Sydney FC would need to show something and did through experience and craft.

With half time approaching David Carney, the strawberry blonde former Socceroo drew a penalty from a bumbling Chris Herd by cleverly hovering over the ball waiting for the tackle. The resulting spot kick to a chorus of boos and abuse in front of the away end was put away by Bobo. 2-1 at half time that could have easily been 2-2 if a shot by Bobo right on half time hadn’t squirmed inches wide. Graham Arnold smelt blood.

Sydney FC then began their usual press on the hapless opposition in the second half. On the hour Ninkovic created something out of nothing getting a pass away despite being crunched with the ball ending up with Josh Brilliante after a string of passes at the edge of the penalty area. Brilliante finished brilliantly in front of The Cove to make the comeback complete. Both sides did have their chances after this with the coupe de grace coming from Matt Simon. The veteran striker, sledger and toe cutter somehow managed to head wide with the goal at his mercy right on full time after some more magic from Ninkovic.

Sydney FC survived and showed why they are such a great team coming back like that. Bobo increasingly shows his worth as possibly the most important striker in the league. Wanderers should have made some subs like Santalab to perhaps get the initiative back but a great effort none the less still remaining undefeated.

A very decent game. Shame that it was first derby at the SFS to not sell out since Wanderers joined the comp and the tv ratings weren’t too flash.

 

 

 

BRISBANE ROAR 1 (Boogard OG 42) NEWCASTLE JETS 2 (O’Donovan 12 Petratos 44)

Brisbane Roar’s abject season continued with another loss but the controversial game will be remembered for Ronald Vargas’ horror leg injury and VAR once again sticking its nose in. The Venezuelan international has lit up the league since signing for Newcastle but following a tackle from Matt McKay his foot dug in to the turf getting caught under the weight of his body resulting in a compound fracture of the leg and dislocated ankle. McKay and other players were visibly upset by the injury, casting a shroud on the game that was depressing enough already with Roar struggling and the crowd again half of what it should be.

Thankfully there was some comical play to maybe give people some happy memories. The Jets were ahead early when the in form Irishman Roy O’Donovan scored again peeling off the defence to finish easily at the far post. Then closer to half time ex Roar midfielder Dimitri Petratos scored a stunner, why Roar players stood off him knowing his ability to score from way out was baffling.

A comical own goal by Nigel Boogard gave Roar hope and pushed for an equaliser after the Vargas injury, the Jets obviously flat after what had happened to their teammate who had been signed by the Jets to show they were to be taken seriously this season. With 10 minutes to go the Italian veteran Massimo Maccarone positioned himself between two Jets defenders to score. Huge celebrations and vindication for under fire John Aloisi.

Unfortunately the ref didn’t see it this way. Calling for the VAR the official in some little studio up in the stands reviewed the play as the players set up to kick off again following the goal. It was deemed Maccarone had been offside in the set up of the goal and the equaliser was reversed. Much gnashing of teeth from Aloisi, the scorer and the other players but it was the correct decision and perhaps the reason why this stupid technology is introduced.

The Jets survived to take the win but like was said by players and fans alike after the game they would have easily taken a loss if it meant Vargas hadn’t suffered that horrific injury. Jets coach and stereotype dour Scot Ernie Merrick, so often showing the emotion of an Easter Island statue, broke down in the press conference over the Vargas incident gutted that such a magnificent player could be cut down like that.

Still, the team from the Hunter remain undefeated and look very decent this year. The Roar continue to struggle with more pressure heaped on Aloisi who put out the oldest team on average in the history of both the NSL and A-League for this match. The team looked as flexible as a steal beam with their transitional play as slow as the second coming of Christ.

The odds on Aloisi being the first to get the chop this season grow ever shorter.

Get well soon Ronny.

 

 

PERTH GLORY 2 (Keogh 72 Taggart 89) CENTRAL COAST MARINERS 1 (Brama 12)

Glory got the win but only just in an uninspiring performance out west against a gallant Mariners. In front of a huge crowd in lovely spring warmth the home side looked far from convincing in the first half against the Mariners. Okon’s team from Gosford were set up well again playing a high line and chasing down every ball forcing the Glory in to unforced errors.

After missing a sitter only a minute in to the match the Mariners were ahead on 12 minutes when a run down the left saw the ball squared to the unmarked big Dutchman Wout Brama who finished off brilliantly. The Mariners still attacked in waves every time Glory coughed the ball up when the home side either did a stray pass or a hopeful long ball to Castro or Harold going out for a goal kick or thrown in. Ex Glory starlet Danny DaSilva was especially dangerous in the middle even with Glory players giving him a kick in the ankle every chance they got.

Eventually the Glory started to get some foothold in the game and on 34 minutes should have been even when Andy Keogh’s cross to an unmarked Adam Taggart was somehow put wide. This was followed with a looping header from a corner by Shane Lowry almost being put away by Taggart again.

In the second half though Glory gave the 12,000 or so something to cheer about. After peppering the goal with Taggart again guilty of wasting chances he set up Keogh with a magnificent cross, the Irishman heading past the keeper with 20 minutes to go. This was after the most of the time maligned coach Kenny Lowe making changes. It was also down to the fact that even with tiring players going down with cramp the Mariners still kept a highline defensively and attacked leaving them vulnerable for balls being over the defence coming the other way. That was how Glory equalised and that was how they would eventually steal the win.

A ball over the top of the defence from Lowry found Taggart who beat the offside trap and finished well to win the game for Glory and satisfy the very vocal crowd. The Glory off and running, the Mariners ruing their inability to see the game out. They have heart but still find themselves switching off at times costing goals conceding 9 in 3 games so far. Lowe said after the game that was how they would set up the team to take advantage of how the Mariners played defensively and it won them the game…eventually.

Glory players celebrate in front of ‘The Shed’ following their last minute win. Toddler held by Joey Mills looks nonplussed about the whole thing.  

 

SACRED COW OF THE WEEK-Ernie Merrick and Newcastle.

The Hunter region of New South Wales has been a hub of football in this country since day one when miners in the region recently arriving from the UK et al put together teams and starting playing in organised leagues in Victorian times. This has extended through to being one of the original teams in the NSL in 1977 and part of the national league ever since.

Despite a title win in 2008 it’s been slim pickings for the Jets but this season they seem to be getting it together again after the disastrous Tinkler years. Merrick seemed to be a forgotten relic at Wellington but has the Jets undefeated so far. His emotion and that of his team following the injury on Sunday was also a sign of the close bond this team seems to have.

A strong team from Newcastle is good for the league and well overdue.

 

ARSECLOWN OF THE ROUND-V.A.R.

Not sure if an electronic video replay system can be seen as an arse clown but anyway.

The league’s much maligned replay system was correct on Sunday but again drew the ire or many saying it interferes with the flow of the game and ruins some of the more human elements of refereeing. The fact the offside was a couple of passes before the goal also confuses the more casual observer of the sport with the VAR able to pull back a goal anytime in the flow leading up to goal if something was wrong 3, 6 even 12 passes ago. Many fans around me at the Glory game on Sunday were bemused by the V.A.R. instructional video shown on the big screens before the match.

A vast majority of journos and fans want it gone and to accept that every now and then mistakes get made. An unnecessary part of the league.

 

TOTAL GOALS FOR THE ROUND-15 (Season Total 48. Av 3.2 goals a game)

 

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO NEW WEEK-United are back at Hindmarsh on Saturday and will take on fellow undefeated side City. A good test to see where they are both at. Great that game will also be on Free to Air.

The two other undefeated teams in Newcastle and the Wanderers also take each other on on Sunday.

 

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM presenter and Glory Guerrillas pod co-host. Cat, Cardie, Glory Bhoy and Socceroo by pain of death. Seen too many Geelong and Socceroos disasters to mention and worships the holy trinity of Larsson, Mifka and Senna.

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