A-League 1,000: The Shin Edition

Hamish Neal looks at the second round of the A-League which is highlighted by the first Melbourne Derby of for the season


1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on the A-League’s second weekend for season eleven which commences on Friday in Adelaide.


Adelaide United v Western Sydney Wanderers, Friday – Beer Sauce Burger Stadium


After an opening round goalless draw against the champs Adelaide had bad news on Wednesday they will be missing goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic until December. The skipper had seven clean sheets in 26 games last season so this is a significant loss for Adelaide but given John Hall started with a clean sheet and they are playing the Wanderers who didn’t look great in round one the Reds do have an advantage here. As for Tony Popovic’s team between some disastrous defending and profligate attack, particularly from Federico Piovaccari, the Asian club champs really struggled in their home opener against Brisbane. Midfielder Mitch Nichols (92% pass accuracy and a goal) was doing his best on attack so that was a bright spot for the Parramatta-based side to build on.


Big game for: Tarek Elrich. The former Wanderer admitted he was sub-par in Amman and with only one game for the Socceroos in the latest international window the coming weeks will be key if the 28 year-old wants to retain his spot in the national team.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Now ordinarily I think fans overreact. Things are never normally as bad, or as good, as you think they are is my motto. However regarding cynical play, yeah, Adelaide. Consider this your first and final warning. We are watching you.


Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC, Saturday – Hunter Stadium


When Newcastle have played Sydney in recent years it has been the Harbour City side normally coming in with the winning form but this time the Jets are flying (sorry couldn’t help myself.) After an upset win in Wellington Newcastle comes into the game with key players in-form after new forward Milos Trifunovic and former Socceroo David Carney scored against the Phoenix whilst Sydney FC endured a frustrating night as they were repelled by the Melbourne City defence, chiefly goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen. Sydney will start to convert more of their chances so Newcastle, with skipper Nigel Boogaard suspended, will need to fall back a bit more in defence to support the defensive combination coach Scott Miller elects to use. Marquee Filip Holosko will have noted how often the Jets did let the Phoenix stride forward last Sunday and Sydney will also be looking to exploit the absence of Boogaard and Lee Ki-je.


Big game for: Trifunovic has a chance to shine in his home debut and we saw on Saturday night Sydney can be beaten but you must make the most of what is likely to be limited opportunities.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: At the moment the Australian Ice Hockey League champs the Newcastle North Stars are the steel city’s only winning sports team. History shows nine more victories is enough for an A-League finals spot. Is it too early to dream for a toilet seat to join the Goodall Cup in town?


Melbourne Victory v Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships, Saturday – Etihad Stadium


#melbderby is upon us early in the season again and both sides started the season with a draw. However John van’t Schip’s side have big injury worries with international Ivan Franjic’s quad injury expected to keep him out for an extended period but Aaron Mooy is expected to play a larger part this weekend which should help the ‘away’ team in this game. Van’t Schip will need to weigh up his squad changes with an eye to the FFA Cup fixture in Perth whilst Kevin Muscat’s still has a week and a half until their Cup last four game.


Big game for: Erik Paartalu and Paulo Retre. The ‘visitors’ right flank will be in for a torrid night but if they come out on top it will stand them in good form for future weeks.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Berisha goal shenanigans. A derby-winning goal for his first league goal this season would signal a big Saturday night on the tiles for the navy blue faithful.


Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners, Sunday – Suncorp Stadium


Two last-start winners meet on Sunday afternoon in Brisbane and it shapes as match of the round stuff with both sides enterprising in the opening round. Brisbane benefitted from some poor Western Sydney defending but were good value, as they say, for their win with La Liga veteran Corona slotting in well whilst Tony Walmsley kept up the promise of a fun Mariners in beating Perth. Walmsley wasn’t afraid to play so many A-League rookies or inexperienced players to start the season, the prime example was veteran defender Eddy Bosnar was on the bench on Sunday, and it paid immediate dividends.

The Mariners defence will do well to see themselves getting past Michael Theo in the Brisbane goal, with the multiple title-winning keeper now injury-free and after a frantic start last weekend he looked assured as the game wore on. Brisbane also get Matt McKay back from international duty.


Big game for: Roy O’Donovan. Again it’s about strikers but this time we offer some friendly advice to the Irishman. Roy, buddy, pal, like a penalty it’s not cool to celebrate a goal in such boisterous fashion as you did on Saturday when you have no idea about it. I was once in a club whose’ fourth grade side won a grand final after someone scored off their shin. The goal-scorer was roundly (comically) harangued for celebrating the ‘strike’ and this was by his own club-mates.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Before the A-League fixture the televised W-League action gets underway for the season. These double-headers are a good idea in October. But the game aligned to A-League fixtures and kicking off at 2pm in December and January are a terrible idea. There is still time to fix this. Maybe push the A-League game back an hour and start both fixtures later?


Perth Glory v Wellington Phoenix, Sunday – nib Stadium


The more things change the more they stay the same. The Phoenix lost 2-1 to start the season at home. This sentence could also have been used 12 months ago to describe the Phoenix’s defeat to Perth who they meet on Sunday after falling to Newcastle last weekend. The Glory were beaten by the Mariners in an exciting contest but one that flattered the visitors. Andrew Durante’s injury was costly for Wellington at home (and he will be out this weekend) but they had sufficient chances to draw the game even allowing for Roy Krishna’s penalty miss so that is a positive for the visitors. Perth will be disappointed they didn’t make more of a chance to grab a win against one of last season’s also-rans particularly as the Mariners haven’t played a meaningful game since August. Foreign recruits for Sydney and Newcastle netted in week one and Diego Castro needs to put away his chances here whilst Perth’s midfield could be torn to shreds if they don’t work better together.


Big game for: Krishna. Ernie Merrick has reiterated the Fijian is the side’s primary penalty-taker with Michael McGlinchey his number two. So what better way for Krishna to get back on the horse with a spot kick here. As a 91st minute winner just for fun.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Perth have a few big weeks at home coming up including hosting the second Melbourne side in an FFA Cup final so this game could be easy to overlook (or were they already doing that last weekend?) Two league defeats and a Cup exit could easily turn things sour in the West if they weren’t already given the fallout from last season’s rampant cheating.


The betting bit – One serious one not:


No one troubled the scorers in Adelaide so we started the season with a defeat but are backing up with the Victory ($1.95) to win the Mexican derby followed by a ceremonial paddling (ala the Simpsons) for the vanquished light blue fans.


Profit: -10 units


Record: 0/1

More is on the blog including our season preview: https://hamishneal.wordpress.com/


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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.


  1. cowshedend says

    Nice work Hamish, fair prediction re the derby too!
    Berisha slots the winner in the 90th…great stuff!

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