War and Peace (and A-League) – Round 6

With the Socceroos and All Whites both in big World Cup Qualifiers over the weekend the attention wasn’t really on the A-League but there were still some cracking results along the way, with a new and unexpected leader. 

 

CENTRAL COAST MARINERS 2 (Hoole 19 McGing 55) SYDNEY FC 0 

 

The Sky Blues have been a little off despite wiping the floor with the rest of the league so far this season, but they were well beaten by an inspired Central Coast Mariners on Friday night. It was the usual Sydney shutting everything down during a cagey opening, before former Sky Blue Andrew Hoole finished off a fantastic counter attack very calmly on 18 minutes at the Sauce Bottle end of Bluetongue Stadium.

 

The Mariners killed Sydney in the midfield, the place where the champions normally rule with an iron fist. The high tempo of the Mariners shutting down any space when Sydney had the ball worked a treat with Dutch duo Wout Brama and Tom Hiariej the standouts. The second goal early in the second half again featured Hoole, after his well struck corner was headed in by Mariners youth team product Jake McGing.

 

A red card to captain Alan Baro didn’t seem to harm the Mariners chances as they grabbed a deserved first win of the season, after just not having enough for the three points despite impressive early-season performances. The celebrations and camaraderie shown by the team at the end may have a little over the top but it was a big night for the Mariners and the league, showing Sydney might just not be so invincible after all.

 

Arnie would not have been impressed with the Sydney FC efforts, especially against his old side.

 

Andrew Hoole again scoring against a big wig in Gosford.

 

ADELAIDE UNITED 1 (Mileusnic 24) NEWCASTLE JETS 2 (Kantarovski 45 Nabbout 47)

 

With Sydney FC being done over up in Gosford, the Jets took advantage the next day with a strong 2-1 victory in Adelaide in what was a scrappy game at times.

 

The injury hit Reds were the better team in the first half, beating the offside trap to go ahead on 25 minutes through Nikola Mileusnic.  They also had further chances but their misfiring strikeforce couldn’t get the important second goal. The Jets saw what was happening and made some changes, wresting back control and equalising right on half time thanks to a Kartarovski finish from close range at the near post.

 

United may have felt that they had paid the price for their inability to finish chances when the Jets were ahead a minute into the second half, thanks to (again) Andrew Nabboutt. A defensive error from United saw the former Victory player sweep the ball past the stranded United keeper and score. The Jets could even afford to have red hot Irish striker Roy O’Donovan miss a remarkably easy chance.

 

Not a pretty win, but the Jets now sit top of the table and are showing the old cliched sign, that a team is good when it is playing poorly and still winning. Didn’t I say that perhaps the game had passed Ernie Merrick by and he was a relic? Let’s ignore that for now.

 

Three losses on the bounce for the Reds and finally a goal after some 240 minutes without. There are injuries but the bright start to the season is now fading in to shadow such is the depth of their current lull. One positive is the fact that they feature a bevy of local talent in the team currently, with their list of injuries.

Nabbout yet again a stand out for the table topping Jets.

 

MELBOURNE VICTORY 1 (Berisha 80) BRISBANE ROAR 1 (Holman 85)

 

The two winless teams took each other on in Melbourne and drew, meaning they both remain winless. An almost elderly and injury hit Roar side was expected to be beaten by last season’s runners up, the Melbourne Victory, who had endured a horrible and stilted start to the season.

 

The undermanned Victory struggled to put one past the Roar with the game never hitting any real heights in front of 18,000 at Eithad. If anyone looked dangerous, it was the Roar. Papadopolous and D’Agostino went close and the French signing Eric Bautheac is starting to show why he was such a top player in Ligue 1 and the Champions League for Lille, scorching the left wing.

 

The game really sparked in to life when 17 year old Young Socceroo Christian Theohauros came off the bench for Victory. A scintillating run from the teenager down the left and in to box helped set up Beshart Berisha who made no mistake, making it 1-0 in the 80th minute. Victory were set to claim a less than deserved win to finally get their season going but the Roar rallied and had other ideas.

 

Five minutes after the Berisha goal, the defender who had been embarrassed by Theohauros, Jack Hingert, sprinted down the right and crossed to former Socceroo Brett Holman, who finished to make it 1-1 and ensure a deserved point for the visitors.

 

Victory were denied again as the grumblings get louder about a team expected to be up there this season. The Roar are also still winless but would be happy with the result considering no one gave them a chance.

 

WELLINGTON PHOENIX 5 (Vidosic 13 Paracki 34 Finkler 52 Kaluderovic 74, 87) PERTH GLORY 2 (Torrest 9 Lowry 47)

 

The Phoenix got their first win of the season putting a piss poor Perth Glory to the sword in the latest instalment of the ‘Distance Derby’.

 

The Cake Tin in Wellington hosted its second game of the weekend with the All Whites v Peru game the day before a wash of everyone dressed in white, an electric atmosphere and fervent pride from both sets of supporters with a World Cup spot on the line. This A-League game featured a fifth of the crowd and literally two Glory supporters in the away end.

 

With the outs the Phoenix had due to the international games, it was expected that Glory would be the favourite here and it looked to be going that way when from an indirect free kick Xavi Alonso lashed home a thunderous strike to put them ahead early. The free kick came from Phoenix keeper Keegan Smith apparently handling a back pass.

 

This was the point where Glory’s defence decided to pull up stumps for the day. Five minutes after the Glory opener Dario Vidosic made it 1-1 ghosting in to head home a lovely Krishna cross with Glory defence not sure on where the players they were supposed to be marking were. The game seemed to settle after this, Glory having most of the possession but not being able to do anything with it as the home side held firm. Glory’s Scott Neville decided this wouldn’t stand and gave the ball away in a baffling manner which resulted in a second Phoenix goal, Croatian Goran Paracki’s first goal for the club.

 

In the second half it seemed Glory wouldn’t lie down, equalising in the opening minutes of the second half through defender Shane Lowry, who headed home a lethal cross from the right. This wouldn’t last with this Glory defence though, with the Brazilian Gui Finkler putting Phoenix ahead 3-2 minutes after the Glory goal, Krishna again the provider. This seemed to knock the wind out of Glory and they fell in to a heap, like they tend to do away from home.

 

With 16 minutes to go Phoenix were awarded a (some would say) soft penalty for a handball which was dispatched by Kaluderovic. If that wasn’t enough it was finally made 5-2 when with three minutes to go when Kaluderovic headed home to complete the embarrassing rout. A tremendous effort from the home side, but the questions about Kenny Lowe’s tenure as coach of the Glory continue to be asked.

Lincoln and Chris traveled some 5,225 kilometres from Perth to watch Glory concede five goals in a rout AND were the only Glory fans in the away end. Good thing Wellington is a city worth visiting anyway.

 

MELBOURNE CITY 1 (McCormack 52) WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS 1 (Sotorio 19)

 

The final game of the round in the crowd killing 7pm Sunday slot was an entertaining affair which could have ended up 3-3 with the amount of opportunities offered to each side.

 

City were the better side early with a host of corners and chunky Scottish import Ross McCormark had a shot saved by Janjetovic…just. The Wanderers, for the first time under Josip Gombau, got themselves back in to the game and had the lead on 19 minutes. City coughed the ball up in the midfield with the ball in the back of the net two passes later when Jaushua Sotorio slotted home at the second attempt, his first shot saved by the keeper.

 

Fitzgerald was again a key for City as everything positive seemed to come through him, as well as having a shot saved. Sotorio could have had a double but his header was saved by Galekovic. Janjetovic then tipped a McCormack free kick just over right on half time.

 

City coach Warren Joyce might have the personality of a wheel of cheese when interviewed but he was proactive with his team swinging the changes at half time with the Argentine Carrusca coming on and having an early chance. Then, on 52 minutes, the VAR became involved and a foul on Malik saw a penalty awarded to City. This was actually the correct call by the VAR for once. The resulting penalty was put away by McCormack and it was 1-1. Fitzgerald was still dangerous having a chance deflected wide and setting up McCormack for a shot that was saved as the game became very physical and the chances dried up.

 

An entertaining draw between two teams fancying themselves this season, City showing some nous and Wanderers still unbeaten. The Wanderers still have much to change under Gombau and it will be interesting to watch.

 

TABLE AFTER ROUND 6 

# Team MP W D L GF GA GD Pts
1
Newcastle Jets

 

6 4 2 0 15 6 9 14
2
Melbourne City FC

 

6 4 1 1 8 3 5 13
3
Sydney FC

 

6 4 1 1 9 6 3 13
4
Western Sydney Wanderers FC

 

6 1 5 0 9 8 1 8
5
Perth Glory

 

6 2 1 3 8 12 -4 7
6
Central Coast Mariners

 

6 1 3 2 7 10 -3 6
7
Wellington Phoenix

 

6 1 2 3 11 13 -2 5
8
Adelaide United

 

6 1 2 3 6 9 -3 5
9
Melbourne Victory

 

6 0 4 2 6 8 -2 4
10
Brisbane Roar

 

6 0 3 3 6 10 -4 3

 

 

 

SACRED COW OF THE ROUND-Paul Okon 

 

Much like the Postecoglou coached Socceroos, it seems the Mariners under Paul Okon will play a certain way that will have long term benefits come hell or highwater. Sometimes it’s failed, like against Newcastle, and almost come off, like against the Glory and Wanderers.

 

On Friday night though it finally worked, the Mariners heavy pressure and high intensity out Sydney-ing Sydney for a deserved win. The emotion showed by Okon and his players (along with the faithful locals) was also a sign the club, despite its trouble and Gosford hating owner, are bringing back the tight-knit culture that served so well between 2005 and 2013, where they made four grand finals.

 

Paul Okon celebrates a goal by pretending to machine gun the cheering crowd.

 

ARSECLOWNS OF THE ROUND – Perth Glory’s back four.  

 

Last season it was well known that Glory’s defence was a shambles, with easy goals conceded costing them points and eventually a chance to host a home final. Injuries could be blamed but it was something that should have been worked on in the offseason. It doesn’t seem to have been corrected in any way.

 

Even with the likes of Lowry, Grant etc fit again and the much maligned Marc Warren injured, the same problems keep on keeping on, as they say. That seems to be the issue with the Glory under Kenny Lowe. With the exception of the salary cap season they seem to just lay around midtable, the odd big scalp, some awful losses to lower sides and that is the norm. A ‘West Brom’ like existence, basically.

 

TOTAL GOALS FOR THE ROUND-16  (Season Total 85. Av 2.83 goals a game)

 

 

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT WEEK 

 

The Jets are flying mighty high and are top of the table for the first time in the A-League. Their mettle will truly be tested next Saturday night when they travel to the SFS to take on Sydney FC. The Sky Blues pride will be pricked by the loss up in Gosford and will be looking to take it out on someone. The Jets will relish the test. This is a FTA game too so should be a gooden.

 

Glory’s hammering by Phoenix will mean their fans will be on their backs when they host the Victory next Sunday. The Victory are still winless and struggle to win in Perth at the best of times, but a heap of Socceroos and All Whites returning to the side will boost their chances. Neither team can’t afford to trot out another sub-par performance.

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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