A-League 1,000: The Concussion Edition

1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on the A-League’s third round which commences in Newcastle on Friday.


Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Victory, Friday – Hunter Stadium

With injured Jets keeper Mark Birighitti watching on eating mango and custard through a straw his side have an immediate chance to respond after a crushing home lose. Outplayed in most facets by Sydney the Jets at least clung on to a hope of a late goal, a vast improvement on last season. The Birighitti injury clearly shook his teammates and subsequent to the game they have also lost Labinot Haliti to a season-ending ACL tear. With a new defensive combination in action last weekend before meeting Melbourne Victory Newcastle’s coach Scott Miller looks set to have to shuffle his starting line-up again which isn’t ideal. After Melbourne had an emotional win coach Kevin Muscat will have to guard against complacency, and his team having an eye on their coming FFA Cup semi-final. Melbourne’s set pieces could be problematic for Ben Kennedy who plays his first full game for some time.


Big game for: Last week we asked for Berisha goal shenanigans and the Albanian delivered with a derby winner. Do we get another late winner here?


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Scott Miller has requested since we displayed clairvoyant powers last weekend re Berisha that none of his players cop an injury or suspension in this game.


Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers, Saturday – Allianz Stadium

Shane Smeltz is very lucky to be available for the #sydneyderby. His intent was not to injury Birighitti but his tackle was reckless and deserved further sanctioning. The injury to Birighitti took the focus off Seb Ryall’s shenanigans and if we are going to lambast teams for similar, as we did last week with Adelaide, it’s only fair we say ‘Seb we are watching’ The Wanderers Andreu had an up-and-down game but as he beds in with Mitch Nichols and fellow Spaniard Dimas in the Western Sydney midfield he will continue to improve as the team does, at least that would be what coach Tony Popovic hopes for.


Big game for: Federico Piovaccari, The marquee needs a big game, and to score. With capable players on the bench how much leeway does the Italian get?


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Sydney’s braggadocio might be somewhat crushed with the news a third Sydney side could join the league in place of Wellington (obviously both are stupid ideas – getting rid of the Phoenix and adding a third Sydney side now.) But to retain their fans they need to keep winning, third Sydney team or not.


Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar, Saturday – Westpac Stadium

A dramatic late winner to Vince Lia has got Ernie Merrick’s side off the mark in season 2015/16 but they face an in-form Brisbane side who have two strikers on song Jamie Maclaren and Brandon Borello have both netted twice in each of the last two games respectively but Wellington’s game will make it hard for Brisbane to get possession for sustained periods of time so Thomas Broich and Corona will need to be clinical in delivery when they get the ball. With international games coming up next month both sides need to bank points now before they lose key players.


Big game for: With Michael Theo out Brisbane’s defence doesn’t look at solid so this is a perfect game for Jeffrey Sarpong to open his account in with Jamie Young in goal for the home side.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: The irony of Wellington having a home game against a side with shaky ownership given the story from Wednesday isn’t lost on anyone. Yellow Fever go your hardest! 


Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships v Central Coast Mariners, Sunday – AAMI Park

A big week for both sides for different reasons with the home side returning from their FFA Cup semi-final defeat in Perth on Wednesday and the Mariners facing accusations of standing down their keeper Liam Reddy without following due process. John van’t Schip will be able to call upon some rested troops but the Mariners will need to be clinical in finishing with Dane Thomas Sorenson in goal, although he was shaky as a substitute against the Glory. Mitch Austin and Fabio Ferreria’s ability to deliver in dangerous crosses or strikes might deliver the one or two chances they need for an upset.


Big game for: City’s fringe brigade. With Michael Zullo and Robert Koren out joining some long-term absentees the home side will delve deep into their squad. They still need to name a replacement for Tando Velaphi as back-up keeper after his concussion sustained in the FFA Cup tie ruled him out of the game.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: The drama surrounding the axing of Reddy from the match-day squad aside, Aurelio Vidmar will be happy Olyroos keeper Paul Izzo now gets more games of significance before the qualifying tournament in January. After several games for Adelaide last season the 20 year-old showed the ability to be a first choice keeper if given a chance.


Perth Glory v Adelaide United, Sunday – nib Stadium

Staying at home after their FFA Cup semi-final triumph which ended up a routine 3-1 triumph is a chance for Perth to go on a winning streak. Kenny Lowe’s side were really only troubled when City defender Matt Millar scored in the first half and a few times late in the second half. They now have a nice fillip after a muddling start to the A-League season with two defeats. Adelaide haven’t really fired a shot under Guillermo Amor and are yet to post a win but will be benefitted if Perth spent all their pennies on Wednesday. Interestingly, despite his head clash with Velaphi on Wednesday Guyon Fernandez is available for Perth in this game


Big game for: Gyorgy Sandor. Sandor is showing the benefits of arriving early in pre-season with the Hungarian scoring in the FFA Cup during the week. A lot of imports, marquee or otherwise, arrive late in the piece of pre-season but not in the case of the 31 year-old and this commitment is bearing fruit already. A chance for another big game here.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Some initiative from Adelaide. Their opening two games have yielded only 17 shots on goal and that’s not great. Shots aren’t everything but it’s been a pedestrian start for the men from South Australia.



The betting bit – One serious one not:


We don’t often get off a winner to back a side that lost their last league game but we are doing so here. Perth ($2.45) into a Tifo of a prominent Sydney FC fan at the #sydneyderby.


Profit: -.5 units


Record: 1/2


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.

Leave a Comment