A-League 1,000: The Cairns Edition


1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on round ten of the A-League which has Adelaide starting the action on Friday before concluding in Newcastle on Sunday.


Adelaide United v Sydney FC, Friday – Beer Sauce Burger Stadium

We have written recently that both sides were threatening to score a few goals but each side got a 1-0 win last weekend. But the threat seems to be more likely for Sydney. After marquee Filip Holosko spurned multiple chances last weekend when the sky blues beat Newcastle he, and his team, were saved by skipper Alex Brosque’s second-half goal. However Brosque is out this weekend due to a hamstring complaint. Adelaide United struck early but never sealed the deal even allowing for far greater possession and only a few late misses from Perth meant the Reds got their first win of the season. Marcelo Carrusca playing well is hugely beneficial for the Reds but they still don’t look like the FFA Cup-winning side of last year.


Big game for: Eugene Galekovic. The Reds shot-stopper is working with an inexperienced centre-half pairing but a clean sheet last weekend is something to build on.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Seeing how clinical Adelaide can be. They won’t get 21 shots on goal in this game so their frontline will need to be more efficient here.


Brisbane Roar v Wellington Phoenix, Saturday – Cazalys Stadium

Coming from the atrocious pitch in Albany to Cairns is a challenge for Wellington coach Ernie Merrick but when he was looking at this block of games away from Wellington having three points from the game against Victory was probably going to be a bonus. Roy Krishna’s game suited the wobbly pitch and the Fijian needs to continue to lift as Jeffrey Sarpong, at the moment, isn’t the new striker Wellington are seeking. Brisbane were the most impressive of the sides that lost last weekend and the fact Jamie Maclaren still managed to net proves despite the fact they haven’t won in a month it’s not quite a slump in the true sporting sense of the word.


Big game for: Rest and rotation. Substitutes will come earlier than normal here given it is expected to hit 32 degrees and the game is kicking off at 4:15pm local time.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: I was surprised to read Cairns hadn’t played host to an A-League game. In the short-lived life of the Fury no dinkum game was taken to the city of 142,000 people which seems odd. Given Brisbane were also the Queensland Roar for a few seasons it’s surprising the city didn’t get at least one game in that intervening period. So I’m looking forward to seeing what big city/town that hasn’t played host to an A-League gets one next.


Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne Victory, Saturday – Pirtek Stadium

The RBB-less Wanderers recorded a sixth straight win but will meet cranky Melbourne after the Victorians failed to score in Auckland. Despite conceding 55% of the possession to Brisbane the Wanderers rattled off more shots on target, three, to the visitors’ one and generally seemed to show more impetus in the final third. Melbourne will look to grab top spot back but there is a chance some players might be rested given the Victory play in Perth on Wednesday next week before returning to Melbourne for a Derby. Melbourne rarely lose back-to-back but this is probably the time it happens if at all. Skipper Carl Valeri for the visitors still has concerns around a virus he has been suffering from but it is better news for the Wanderers who have more striking options available with marquee Federico Piovaccari fit again.


Big game for: Mitch Nichols. The midfielder has turned things around in the last two seasons going from Cerezo in Japan, who on the weekend missed at a chance to return to the top flight, to Perth where the attacking dynamo never found form, until now. In big games back-to-back is how Nichols will continue to improve. The 26 year-old needs a big game here


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Even allowing for the poor pitch in Auckland, Melbourne should have done better. Maybe it’s a post FFA Cup hangover kicking in. I’m interested to see how they respond here.


Perth Glory v Central Coast Mariners, Saturday – nib Stadium

The Glory host the Mariners as the visitors look to collect a season double over the men from the West. Kenny Lowe’s side are the only team the Central Coast have beaten this season and the gloss of that opening round win has well and truly worn off. Perth had chances to net a winner late in the game against Adelaide with Reds ‘keeper Galekovic helping lift the South Australians to their first win this season. Anthony Golec will want to show better direction with any late headers but Gyorgy Sandor’s return last weekend was good news for Lowe. Mariners coach Tony Walmsley will have selection choices to make and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few changes. Jake Adelson, once of the books of Everton, was impressive in his debut and returns to the match-day squad.


Big game for: The little things. The Mariners’ minor errors end up been hugely costly so they need to go back to basics. Jake McGing and Jacob Poscoliero were guilty of that as Melbourne City ran riot over the home side. When you don’t get many chances to score the ‘error value’ of the mistakes you make increases if you are literally passing to the opposition. Perth had six shots on target last weekend so the Mariners must shore things up at the back.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Harry Ascroft will probably look forward to playing a more proactive game this weekend, shuffled into a man-marking assignment the 20 year-old spent the game chasing Mooy and whilst the Melbourne light blue playmaker had a relatively quiet game his side was 3-0 up when Ascroft was removed from that role. I’m not sure if Walmsley will persist with such a move in the future, but Nick Montgomery’s absence made the outcome probable anyway last weekend.


Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships, Sunday – Hunter Stadium

Newcastle might have learnt a lesson of the folly of man-marking Aaron Mooy after the efforts of Ascroft and the Mariners on Thursday in Round 9 so it will be interesting to see the approach Jets coach Scott Miller adopts here. With Leonardo missing he deployed recent recruit Ryan Kitto in the ‘10’ hole but Newcastle struggled to get any traction and it was really only Sydney’s profligacy and a couple of Mark Birighitti stops that kept the Jets in the game. Robi Koren returns here so the Jets arguably meet a ‘better’ Melbourne City side compared to the one that has won their last two games convincingly.


Big game for: It keeps coming up but Newcastle’s inability to field the same team in key positions is making things hard for them. Nigel Boogaard returns here which gives some solidity to their spine.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: 10 goals in two games is unheralded territory for John van’t Schip’s team but I’d be amazed if they get another five here.


The betting bit – One serious one not:

After a Western Sydney win last weekend we switch to the eastern half of the harbour city ($2.50) to win in Adelaide into a commentary reference of ‘Corona in the sun in Cairns’ during the coverage of Brisbane versus Wellington.


Profit: 47.45 units (ten units per investment)


Record: 6/9  


This preview originally appeared on https://hamishneal.wordpress.com/

About Hamish Neal

Born in Lower Hutt New Zealand Hamish is forever wedded to all things All Black, All Whites, Tall Blacks and more. Writing more nowadays in his 'spare time' (what is that anyway?) but still with a passion for broadcasting. Has worked in various sports development roles in England, Northern Ireland and Australia.

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