A-League 1,000: The Reality Edition

@hamishneal

1,000-ish words, thoughts, and musings on Round 24 of the A-League which starts and finishes in Melbourne with games in between in both New South Wales and New Zealand.

Melbourne Sheep Cow Whales Ships v Brisbane Roar, Friday – AAMI Park

Strange one this Brisbane outfit, they have won their last two games scoring eight goals but they have lost their way in their last two away games, falling to defeat in each of those fixtures by a margin of three goals. A win for the home side here would see them join Brisbane on 41 points and John van’t Schip’s side would be top on goal difference. However Brisbane have star recruit Tommy Oar available which is a huge boost away from home.

Big game for: More clean sheets? After Melbourne defenders Patrick Kisnorbo and Alex Wilkinson celebrated a clean sheet they may have been somewhat deflated to read they were next playing a side that scored five goals in their last game.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: In pre-season I was effusive about the prospects of Wade Dekker but the young Melbourne striker is now out for the rest of the year with an ankle injury after a fleeting appearance off the bench last weekend. Good luck in the rehabilitation Wade.

Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC, Saturday – Central Coast Stadium

The Mariners have conceded 11 goals in their last four games, only scored once and were humbled 4-0 last weekend. That’s not the worst of it though. Having seen a teammate marched for two bookable offences marquee Luis Garcia copped two yellow cards in quick succession and will join Mitch Austin in watching this game from the sidelines. Last weekend was a huge display of indiscipline from Garcia. Is the reality of the playing situation the Spaniard finds himself in finally hitting home? Sydney have a huge chance to go two games with a clean sheet and this should be top of their aims in Gosford.

Big game for: Backing up. Graham Arnold’s side put in a top shift in Korea on Wednesday evening and the former Mariners boss may as well start Chris Naumoff given the confidence he would have got from scoring against Pohang.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Arnold wasn’t shy to swing the axe at the break in the Wellington game with Aaron Calver and Milos Dimitrijevic hooked with Jacques Faty and Mickael Tavares playing the second half. Will it be Mariners coach Tony Walmsley having to do the same during this game?

Western Sydney Wanderers v Adelaide United, Saturday –-Pirtek Stadium

In a surprise for these two sides in recent weeks they come into the game off 1-0 results after the home side won in Newcastle but the Reds lost at home. The Wanderers 4-2-3-1 formation broke down Newcastle once but should have done better whereas Adelaide’s progress, mainly down the middle of the park, wasn’t enough to break down the second Victorian franchise.

Big game for: Guillermo Amor’s side might be looking to hold their own here given they face a swathe of absences due to injury including creative outlets such as Pablo Sanchez and Marcelo Carrusca.  

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Jaushua Sotirio’s composure and tenacity to score the decisive goal on Sunday evening highlighted the enthusiasm required to win a title. The Marconi junior could have easily loitered at the top of the box but kept making the run even when, after the Mark Bridge cut back, it looked like Mitch Nichols would bundle the ball home. Sotirio kept venturing into the area and was duly rewarded.

Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory, Sunday – Westpac Stadium 

Given Perth beat Wellington at the Ring of Fire as recently as February, Kenny Lowe’s side will be looking for something here and will see no reason why they can’t do so. Except Wellington are themselves in scoring touch now having beaten Sydney 3-1 in the Harbour City last weekend. Vince Lia, who scored in Round 2 against Perth, is available again for the home side.

Big game for: Midfield fluidity. Missing Nebojsa Marinkovic doesn’t matter so much against the Mariners when you are playing at home but when you are away in Wellington it’s a different matter. Perth’s transitions will be key.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: In a great initiative linking the tiers in Australian domestic football, Bayswater City won WA’s Night Series grand final in a game played after Perth’s home fixture last weekend at nib Stadium. With FFA Cup early stage rounds well underway there is no reason some of those fixtures shouldn’t be played around A-League games. For instance the Edgeworth versus Broadmeadow fixture in the Northern NSW section of the FFA Cup could have been after the Jets/Wanderers match last Sunday. Featuring players like 2012/13 A-League Golden Boot Daniel McBreen it would have been an attractive game for fans to stay around for.

Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets, Sunday – AAMI Park

With a better draw post ACL this round, compared to Sydney FC, the Victory have had longer to return from Korea after getting a point against Suwon even if the result puts them in a tricky spot with two games away from home to come in the ACL. Newcastle fell to a second defeat in as many games but, for the first time in a while, will get players back and don’t have anyone new missing to suspension or injury. Melbourne have issues with a calf concern for Nick Ansell, who has only returned to the line-up in recent months, plus they will be missing Daniel Georgievski and Rashid Mahazi to suspension.

Big game for: Wingers Lachlan Jackson and Nick Cowburn did their best to try to scout out chances down the wing and Newcastle did well late in the game but need to get more attempts ‘in the mixer’ as they say. Newcastle’s defence will change this weekend with the return of Daniel Mullen and Jason Hoffman but they will do well to learn the lessons of their teammates last weekend.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Potential pitch issues have been averted mostly this season in the A-League but there is genuine concern for the quality of this game. This will be the fourth top level sporting fixture in seven days on the surface, one of which was a rugby league game, so it might be more sand than grass.

The betting bit – One serious one not:

Changing it up we go for the Wanderers here ($2.10) into a ‘Tommy is Oar-some’ banner from the travelling Roar fans on Friday.

Record: 14/23

Profit: 57.55 (ten units per investment)

 

 

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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