A-League 1,000: The Cup Iseth Over Edition


1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on the A-League’s sixth round which after missing two sides last weekend misses a swathe of international players this weekend.


Wellington Phoenix v Adelaide United, Friday – Westpac Stadium

Out of form Adelaide strike Wellington at a good time with five players away on All Whites duty, the most significant of those being diminutive midfielder Michael McGlinchey. After sitting back to a degree when they grabbed the lead against the Central Coast, Wellington conceded via a corner with Roy O’Donovan netting for the hosts, so the Phoenix enter the game looking for their first win in three weeks. Adelaide has been disappointing but the return of Bruce Djite last weekend would have been a boost for Guillermo Amor’s side. The Reds have looked abject from open play and need to step up or Amor could struggle to get Christmas on Glenelg Beach.


Big game for: Roly Bonevacia. The former Ajax product hobbled off late in Gosford, but with McGlinchey away his role becomes more important for the Nix. Hopefully he plays. But he might by sleepy after his baby son Ty was born on Wednesday.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Bruce Kamau provided some spark for Adelaide when he came on against Melbourne City, drawing the penalty late on in the game. The 20 year-old winger could be used more to Adelaide’s benefit.


Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships v Western Sydney Wanderers, Friday – AAMI Park

When they had all rights to feel the affects of playing in poor conditions two weeks running, the Wanderers swung in action late in Newcastle to grab a win and this will give them plenty of confidence playing a light blue Melbourne side coming off the bye, otherwise known as Adelaide. With no players on Socceroos duty, Tony Popovic can focus his opponent plans on Melbourne’s second team without having to worry about the threat of Aaron Mooy, who featured prominently for the Socceroos in their 3-0 triumph over Kyrgyzstan in Canberra on Thursday evening. Wanderers must grab this chance after a morale-boosting win. They have bench impact but will meet a Melbourne side that can put teams to the sword even though they are inconsistent.


Big game for: It’s another big weekend for the Wanderers back-line and after an impressive effort in Newcastle, Jonathan Aspropotamitis will be challenged facing up against the likes of Bruno Fornaroli, Stefan Mauk, and David Williams.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Melbourne’s wide backs Ben Garuccio and Paulo Retre will need to be clinical in transition to attack with the absence of Mooy possibly slowing this for John van ’t Schip’s team.


Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners, Saturday – Hunter Stadium

After a heart-breaking defeat on Saturday, Newcastle get a chance to atone when they host the first F3 Derby of the season. Newcastle had nearly 50 per cent possession in a game for the first time all season when they beat Melbourne City the week prior but dropped back to 45 per cent last week, and playing from deep with a focus on defence. If the Mariners can replicate the 55 per cent possession and 19 attempts on goal they got against Wellington, they are a decent chance here however the absence of Fabio Ferreira is hugely significant. And with over a month of film on the new Mariners defensive set-up, Newcastle coach Scott Miller will have pinpointed where the Jets break them down. However Miller will have his own defensive changes with Daniel Mullen set to be out for indefinitely due to a knee injury with Lachlan Jackson to play in the centre of defence with skipper Nigel Boogaard


Big game for: Lee Ki-Je. Setting aside the controversy related to Newcastle’s goal before the Wanderers’ own lucky penalty, the South Korean’s free kick which led to the Jets goal proves giving away free kicks in the final third is a risk prospect when facing Newcastle.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: As they chased an equaliser, the Mariners bench caused trouble for Wellington last weekend and coach Tony Walmsley will be hoping for a similar impact in Newcastle. Josh Bingham put in a good shift when he came on for Mitch Austin and Walmsley will continue to ask for more from his substitutes.



Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory, Saturday – Allianz Stadium

Another fixture heavily impacted by the international fixtures in the next week or so or at least it should be. Shane Smeltz was ruled out by the All Whites but is available for selection here for Sydney (work that out), while Melbourne miss the FFA Cup Mark Viduka Medallist Kosta Barbarouses, who is in Oman with the All Whites (playing early Friday morning Aus/NZ time). Kevin Muscat will also be without the services of Jason Geria and three other players on international duty. Much was made of Sydney’s scrappy game against Brisbane, with Graham Arnold hitting out at Brisbane but also saying his side had been impacted by illness leading up to the game. However Alex Gersbach, who was reportedly part of the sick brigade having battled glandular fever, did feature the following day for Sydney’s NYL side, so I wonder how much of that was Arnold protecting his players after a poor performance.


Big game for: Sydney scoring early. Four of Sydney’s six goals this year have come late in games this season (some in dubious circumstances) so it will be interesting to see if they can score in the first stanza.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Faced with the unique scenario of a crowd likely at least twice the size of what they hosted for Cup final the week prior, Melbourne will be looking to avoid the post FFA Cup hangover. Our sample size of one tells us they will lose with Adelaide falling 2-1 in Newcastle when they won the Cup last year. However, that game was played three days after knockout pinnacle so it’s a slightly different scenario here.



Brisbane Roar v Perth Glory, Sunday – Suncorp Stadium

Perth are on a plane again for the third week running and they face a Brisbane side who will be keen to atone for the disappointing game in Sydney, plus accusations of ‘spoiling’ the fixture. Hungarian Gyorgy Sandor’s absence was telling for Perth in the FFA Cup Final. Kenny Lowe’s men didn’t die wondering and kept pressing in attack, but the Victory were always going to be hard to beat once they got a lead. If Brisbane can’t pressure in the final third (they had no shots on target against Sydney) then Perth are a sneaky chance here if they are at full fitness. Brisbane did good job closing down the likes of Milos Ninkovic for Sydney last weekend but the absence of Matt McKay will make shutting down Perth’s forwards trickier. Remember, Brisbane will also be without striker Jamie McLaren whilst Perth miss emerging back Josh Risdon.


Big game for: Perth’s bench. Lowe has not been ashamed to rotate his squad given cup commitments this season so hopefully the experience some younger players have gotten recently will benefit them here.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Hopefully a good game. Roar have a strong defence but Perth are an exciting team to watch when they hit their straps. Despite the fact both sides miss key players it’s still a good encounter.


The betting bit – One serious one not:


Hitherto un-trustable Melbourne City won but Wellington couldn’t hang onto its second defeat for TBB this season. A tough weekend given the key players missing but Western Sydney at $3.10 seems enticing into a comedy ‘Our beaches are better than yours’ banner at the #F3 Derby.


Profit: 14.95 units (ten units per investment)


Record: 3/5

This preview first appeared on ‘From the sideline of sport’ https://hamishneal.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/a-league-1000-the-cup-iseth-over-edition/

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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