War & Peace (and A-League) – Round 1

 

MELBOURNE CITY 2 (Kamau 45, 74) BRISBANE ROAR 0

The 12th season of the A-League kicked off with a match that had atmosphere and crowd numbers to match the damp squib that had been the build up to the season.

Melbourne City hosted the Dad’s Army that is Brisbane Roar and the hosts who are under a new coach seemed to have a new purpose. The former Adelaide winger Bruce Kamau was a standout all night charging at the Roar defence and scoring a brace in a 2-0 win for City. His first goal was a lovely finish from the edge of the box while he was in the right place at the right time for the second. Not bad for a player who only scored once last season. Scottish International Ross McCormack also made his debut. The loanee from Aston Villa had the face of someone who didn’t want to be there initially (much like one David Silva) but put in a very decent shift.

Roar offered nothing in return and may be in for a long season replacing old stars with similar players ready for the ‘long yard’ so to speak. The new City and former Man United ressies coach Warren Joyce implored that consistency would be the key for his team this season, something that blighted their underachieving individualistic season in 2016/17.

 

CENTRAL MARINERS 1 (Asdrobal 5) NEWCASTLE JETS 5 (O’Donovan 9, 28, 38 Champness 81 Petratos 90)

If the season opener was a little bit of a fizzer then the F3 Derby more than made up for it.

A huge crowd, stunning weather, packed away end and those big inflatable sauce bottles in HD. With such an electric atmosphere the game did not disappoint. The Mariners went ahead after only a 5 minutes thanks to a quick thinking sidefoot from the new import Asdrubal. The celebration by the Spaniard was similar to if he had scored the winner in a World Cup Final and not five minutes in to a new season in the A-League. With that kind of celebration you knew they would be made to pay and they were by the man Asdrubal replaced in the off season.

It is the norm more often than not to not celebrate when you score against your old teamin this sport. Larsson didn’t celebrate when scoring for Barca against his beloved Celtic. As did Denis Law against Man United and Jamie Maclaren against Glory. Our man Roy though? Nah. After nine minutes the Jets were awarded a dubious penalty that was put away by O’Donovan who gestured to the Mariners fans who had mocked him with a banner before the game. Roy then had his second on 27 minutes to make it 2-1 thanks to lovely lead up work from Vargas, Petratos and Nabbout. Roy’s celebration again not reserved in any way.

On 38 minutes he had his hattrick. Nabbout was again the provider with Roy heading past the hapless keeper. Quite the effort. In the latter parts of the game in front of the 1500 or so Jets fans at the Sauce Bottle End of the ground the Jets finished off the Mariners with two more junk time goals to start the season in style. So much for my bagging of Ernie Merrick in the season preview. Seems the canny Victory old boy still has some powder dry tactically.

After the game O’Donovan said that he had seen the banner with the snake cartoon and remarked that that was one good looking snake. A hatrick hero, a bad guy to the Mariners and most important of all an original character in the league.

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F3 Derby Bants. Roy ‘The Snake’ O’Donovan being held aloft by another Gosford escapee Lawrie McKinna. (Note the wooden spoon..)

MELBOURNE VICTORY 0 SYDNEY FC 1 (Deng OG 54)

With such a wonderful game beforehand it was hoped the Grand Final re-match would offer some entertainment too, specially being live on Ten. It really didn’t.

Victory were always going to be struggling against the champs with three players missing due to international commitments and FFA ineptness not having the league start a week later. It also didn’t help this was one of the games contracted to Etihad meaning a half full stadium as opposed to a packed AAMI Park generating better atmosphere and bigger home ground advantage for the Victory. Still, the home side were on top in the first 30 minutes in a game that turned in to a tense arm wrestle much like many games between the two last season.

In the second half though Sydney FC started their usual boa constrictor move slowly suffocating the undermanned Victory and forcing mistakes. After 53 minutes the former Socceroo and 2006 hero Luke Wilkshire darted down the left and put in a lovely cross on his wrong foot to Alex Brosque who fluffed his lines. The ball ricoched in to Victory’s Thomas Deng though wrongfooting Lawrence in goals with the ball trundling in to the back of the net. An Own Goal. Sydney FC always seem to somehow find a way under Graham Arnold.

Sydney had a couple of more chances before sitting back and letting Victory come at them. The only chance being an audacious attempt by the carthorse Leigh Broxham that was tipped over by Andrew Redmayne in goal. A typically Sydney FC victory under Arnold with the grouchy ex-striker and Muscat not shaking hands at the end and passively having a go at each other at their respective press conferences. The spat had started after Muscat’s complaints about the international weekend robbing him of key players. Arnold’s curt answer was to suck it up. Expect this little squabble between the two to continue during the season with both sides expected to be there at season’s end for honours.

 

WELLINGTON PHOENIX 1 (Vidosic 5) ADELAIDE UNITED 1 (Absalonsen 9)

Wellington turned on some stereotype Kiwi Spring weather keeping many away as an understrength Phoenix battled to a 1-1 draw with United.

It seemed that the game would be much like the Mariners v Jets goalfest the day before with early goals. New signing and part time Socceroo Dario Vidosic scored for the Phoenix with a nice reader thanks to great work from the flying Fijian Roy Krishna. It didn’t take long with United to peg it back when on 11 minutes when SA native Nikola Mleusnic set up the new Danish signing Johan Absalonsen who headed home.

Unfortunately the game then settled down in a game that was dross at times although Paul Izzo did some fine work in the United goal to deny Phoenix. Ersen Gulum has spent his time in Turkey honing his craft if the craft is to kick the faster more skillful players at every opportunity. Krishna was on the end of a few nasty challenges from the Melbourne born defender resulting in a booking.

Both sides are still adjusting to new coaches, players and systems so a draw may be a decent result for both as they settle. Phoenix will be grateful to get a majority of their players back next week.

 

 Image result for Hayden Foxe pizza boy

WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS 2 (Riera 43, Kusukami 46) PERTH GLORY 1 (Hamill 82 OG)

Another season for two teams yet to win the coveted Toilet Seat and have fans chomping at the bit and showing complete and utter impatience for some success.

The Wanderers were back at Spotless Stadium in front of a poor crowd obviously not impressed having to play at an oval while Parramatta Stadium is rebuilt. The pressure was on the former kings of Asia who had lost their inaugural coach a week before the start of the season and hoping that their new recruits would gel. Added to this was the fact that they had never won an opening round game and their interim coach Hayden Foxe looked like he should have been delivering pizzas in his cap and jacket much like his time at Melbourne Heart. It looked bleak for Wanderers so it was a good thing they were playing Perth Glory then. Glory turns in to a team with the defending prowess , pressure and work effort of an Under 8s side whenever they play in Sydney.

The first half was quite even with the exception with a couple of defensive brainfarts from Glory bringing in two new members to their back four. Still, the Glory again looked unfit and like they didn’t even have a pre-season so it was no surprise then that just near half time Glory collapsed twice. On 42 minutes two of the three new Spaniards for Wanderers combined for the opener. Alvaro Cejudo slid the ball to Riera to put it past Liam Reddy. Then with moments to go until half time came the killer goal when from a cleared Glory corner the Wanderers counterattacked with two neat passes up the field finding the Japanese winger Jumpei Kusukami who showed sizzling pace and scored.

In the second half it was only when Glory made some changes that they got back the control of the game. In the final 25 minutes Adam Taggart had two chances with one hitting the post then the bar. With 8 minutes left Wanderers defender was in the wrong place to put the ball in to the back of his own net after Keogh headed to make it a nervy final 10 minutes but Wanderers held out. Glory again with a poor start to the season but it’s okay they’ll find form and fitness….in March like every season.

 

SACRED COW OF THE ROUND – Roy O’Donovan

The Irishman made a hell of an impact on the league last year scoring a heap of goals with the odd bit of cynical thuggery using his elbow for good instead of the evil. He then crossed to the Mariners’ arch rivals the Jets in the offseason and proceeded to not only score a hatrick in his first game back in Gosford but also made sure the fans knew it. Bit of a prick’s trick? Maybe. Something the F3 Derby and the league needs to bring something back to a rivalry that has been luke warm for a few years? Absolutely.

 

ARSE CLOWN OF THE ROUND – The FFA.

Expect these suits to feature a lot as the worst thing about a round of A-League this season. Bowing down to Fox and not having international breaks for the league when the Socceroos and All Whites are playing robs the league of dignity and teams like the Phoenix and Victory of key players. Delaying a week putting everything  promotion wise in to the vital qualifiers for the underperforming Socceroos would have been nice.

 

TOTAL GOALS FOR THE ROUND – 14 (Av. 2.8 goals a game for the season)

 

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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