A-League 1,000: The Recruit Edition


1,000-ish words, thoughts, and musings on Round 18 of the A-League which offers us a rare double-header of Sunday afternoon games.

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

Staying at home after edging out Newcastle 1-0 the Reds host a Sydney side bought undone by not only Brisbane’s Qualiroos players but also a dynamic Dimi Petratos performance. Former Jet Andrew Hoole looks like he will miss out. Ironically to be replaced by David Carney who has transferred from Newcastle (sorry) added as a free agent after he left the Jets this week. Guillermo Amor’s side will have one eye on their Asian Champions League playoff game scheduled for Tuesday night with Pablo Sanchez and Iacopo La Rocca the visa players not selected for the ACL squad one could expect them to play a prominent role here with some added motivation after their exclusion.


Big game for: Long-range attempts. With Jimmy Jeggo having left Adelaide their goal-scoring from range seems to be less threatening. Against Newcastle they had seven shots from outside the box versus 14 a few weeks ago against Perth. Clearly the value of these shots each time is varied however on occasion when Jeggo ripped one, or didn’t, it had the opposition in two minds opening up space for his teammates. Now and then they also came off.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Seeing further sanctions for off the ball play. Vedran Janjetovic’s grappling of an opponent’s head is out of order. I’m amazed he is available for selection this weekend.


Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners, Saturday – Suncorp Stadium 

The only shame about the Mariners’ third win of the season is that they don’t get any associated performance bump crowd-wise immediately as the Garcia roadshow heads from the South Island of New Zealand to Queensland this weekend. Winning a game as they did was hugely impressive stuff from the Roar even if Sydney FC’s style has been called into question. A 3-1 triumph away from home is nothing to be sneezed at. Central Coast should now be able to start Garcia and given his impact last weekend against Wellington it may be worth Tony Walmsley, who also has Harry Ascroft and Nick Montgomery back from suspension, rolling the dice.


Big game for: James Donachie, the returning Australian representative, was selected ahead of Daniel Bowles against Sydney in an odd move given he hadn’t started all season but it was one that paid dividends for John Aloisi. Donachie is having to renegotiate his contract with the Roar when he thought he had an agreement until mid 2017. It’s a weird story covered by Marco Monteverde.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Liam Rose had one of his best games in a Mariner jersey in Round 17 but the ability to back it up with a repeat performance is the requirement of a professional footballer. How will the 18 year-old go here if given the chance?


Melbourne Victory v Western Sydney Wanderers, Saturday – Etihad Stadium

A Saturday night cracker in Melbourne sees the table-topping Wanderers play the Victory who lost in the west playing off the quick back-up from Round 16. After a normal week schedule-wise Kevin Muscat’s side should be more settled although they will be without Fahid Ben Khalfallah who was sent off against Perth. Piovaccari lotto is back with the some-time footballer named in the Wanderers squad.


Big game for: Sydney goalkeeper Janjetovic wasn’t the only player to take square-ups/face-offs to the extreme on the weekend. The near headbutt in the Wanderers’ win over Melbourne City was over the top. Western Sydney went close to finishing the game with 10 players.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Jaushua Sotirio was somewhat of a surprise selection on Friday night but the Australian Under 23 representative acquitted himself well. It will be intriguing to see how Tony Popovic keeps his table-topping side alert in the coming weeks with more off-piste selections.


Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory, Sunday – Westpac Stadium

Perth come to Wellington having beaten the title-holders and the Phoenix back-up after they were knocked off by the bottom placed-side but will start favourite here. Funny game etc etc. Striker Alex Jones may be available for the home side after he left the UK on Thursday (albeit he was delayed.) Jones, a product of the West Bromwich Albion academy set-up, will be hoping to link up immediately with his new teammates to try to address the Nix’s flagging finals hopes and maybe make himself as popular in the capital as another former football league striker in Paul Ifill.


Big game for: Back at their spiritual home the Phoenix will welcome back Andrew Durante and this will allow Manny Muscat to take up his normal midfield role so this will be helpful as they try to put pressure on the visitors.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Seeing Perth recruit Krisztian Vadocz possibly in action. Capped 39 times for his country the Hungarian midfielder could join Luis Garcia and former Nix player Leo Bertos in that small group of players who have played in both the A-League and Indian Super League. The much-traveled 30 year-old has also spent time in Spain with Osasuna.


Newcastle Jets v Melbourne City, Sunday – Hunter Stadium

Melbourne City had a successful weekend in Round 17 but it wasn’t the men’s side, who lost to the Wanderers, with the second Victorian franchise’s W-League team beating Sydney FC in the grand final. The men lost 4-3 on Friday night. Socceroo Alex Wilkinson has joined the club and this could end up benefiting them even more next season if they have an ACL campaign give his experience in Korea and China. Newcastle played better in Adelaide last weekend but the benchmark was low after the heavy home defeat to Perth the week prior. Leonardo playing more minutes is helping and with Mark Birighitti in goal the Jets are always a chance of staying in a game, as they did against the Reds.


Big game for: Seeing if Melbourne can keep a clean sheet. Recruit Osama Malik was put into the starting line-up but the lack of understanding was highlighted with the last goal in their Friday night loss when substitute Jack Clisby did the classic ‘point and panic’ at the diagonal runner (Romeo Castelen) but failed to track the trailing runner (Brendon Santalab). This makes the addition of Wilkinson hugely significant for John van’t Schip’s defensive group. Interestingly their last clean sheet came when they beat Newcastle 4-0 in December.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Reciprocity… Or not… Maybe not today, maybe not months from now but the next time a potential move for a player from Newcastle to Sydney FC comes up it will be very interesting to see how things play out.


The betting bit – One serious one not:

Lessons learnt, don’t go against your educated thought developed over several days and remember Melbourne City will likely concede at least a goal in any game. Strong home team in form Brisbane ($1.40) into a bag or two with dollar signs on it getting offered to Andy Keogh in Wellington.


Record: 8/17


Profit: -6.95 units (ten units per investment)

This preview first appeared on From the sideline of sport

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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