A-League 1000: The Thursday Edition


1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on the A-League’s fifth round which is sans two sides due to Saturday night’s FFA Cup decider.


Adelaide United v Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships, Thursday – Beer Sauce Burger Stadium

Adelaide head back home still winless after a limp effort in Brisbane when South Australian Brandon Borello played a huge part in their 3-0 demise. The Reds are yet to score a goal themselves in the A-League this year with two own goals to their credit. In September Carrusca netted a penalty in the FFA Cup for the Reds but their last open play goals in a game of significance was a round of 16 Cup game in August with Pablo Sanchez and Dylan McGowan scoring in an extra-time win over Sydney FC. Melbourne have had injuries, sure, but considering they are operating with marquees which some teams (Newcastle, Wellington and Central Coast) don’t have it’s not as if the competitive disadvantage is that great. Jacob Melling has come of age in one of the few bright sparks this season and Stefan Mauk is proving that time in the National Youth League spent well can develop and his play for one of the City goals was glorious. But the fact this early in the season they were so poor in the second half and caught off the ball so often what happens when they go behind to a better side in the middle of a hot January day? It will be past the point of no return I fear.


Big game for: Isaias. Everything is going through the play-maker for Adelaide but nothing seems to be coming off for the Reds. At what point does Guillermo Amor change it up?


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: A game of lead changes. With both sides displaying inconsistency this could be a game for the highlight reel if not on to cause the coaches a heart attack.


Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar, Friday – Allianz Stadium

I’m honestly disappointed Graham Arnold didn’t wave Matt Simon around in the post-match press conference on Saturday a la the Arnie dollars of last season. Arnold’s Sydney again got lucky goals to seal points, this time three points, late in a game but one wonders if they can continue to ride that luck against a side like Brisbane. Filip Holosko’s experience has meant he isn’t afraid to get forward on the flank and that caused trouble for the Mariners’ defence last weekend and Brisbane can expect similar attack this Friday. Corona’s contest in the middle with Milos Dimitrijevic will be a great individual match-up.


Big game for: John AloisiLost in the season to date between the off-field dramas around Wellington and the now standard refereeing controversies has been the coaching renaissance of John Aloisi. The former Heart mentor faces one of his biggest tests here to date.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Brandon O’Neill is showing good signs in his role in the Sydney midfield screening the centre-backs but it’s a challenging few weeks for the 21 year-old as Sydney host Melbourne Victory after this game and are then away in Perth.


Newcastle Jets v Western Sydney Wanderers, Saturday – Hunter Stadium

It’s the match-up of Newcastle’s bargain buy import Milos Trifunovic versus the Wanderers’ Federico Piovacarri who is squatting on a marquee spot getting paid a rumoured $750,000 a season. Yes the Wanderers, like Newcastle, won last weekend but their triumph from Sunday needs perspective. Perth have flown across the country again after a big win late last week and squad rotation was eventually going to take its toll on consistency. I’m not potting Perth for not being ‘up for it’ on a wet muggy day in western Sydney the week before a Cup final. In a salary cap league everyone wins eventually.

The fact Tony Popovic’s side played Sunday in wet conditions and Newcastle have had an extra two days to freshen up after playing Friday is also significant.


Big game for: The injection of Cameron Watson off the bench, and shifting Ben Kantarovski (one of the two goal-scorers) was crucial for Newcastle’s turnaround. Watson, discarded by Adelaide at the end of last season, is on a one-year deal and more efforts like last weekend will see him a Jet long-term.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Whilst plenty of discussion has been about the Wanderers’ forwards including in this column it’s worth noting their rookies are showing promise, as they did at times during the poor league results last season. Having debuted last season 19 year-old Jonathan Aspropotamitis got a run off the bench last weekend and showed why he was a given a chance last year. He can’t be too far off a start this season, especially if Alberto doesn’t come up this weekend due to injury.


Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix, Sunday – Central Coast Stadium

Both sides come off losses but it’s the Mariners that could feel the most aggrieved. Despite the fact Wellington copped deflected goals Melbourne was on top in their game on Monday but the Mariners were unlucky to be down to 10 men against Sydney when Nick Fitzgerald was marched. For the first time in a while Wellington only had one shot on goal in the game in the loss to Victory however facing a porous Mariners defence (who have conceded a league worst 10 goals in four games) who the Phoenix have already beaten in the FFA Cup this season will be the sort of fixture Ernie Merrick should relish after a defeat. Tom Doyle will be after a better game in defence for the visitors.


Big game for: Home accuracy. There is something to be said for entertaining the crowds but at some point you need to improve the quality of service when you get in the final third. The crossing of the Mariners really needs work after the last few weeks. Roy O’Donovan also hit the cross bar with a penalty against Wellington in the Cup so they are not having much luck with penalties at home this season.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Last week we said Fitzgerald needed to do more for the Mariners. He got involved against Sydney but he was booked for diving and his final note was a send-off for the second booking. This time we would like consistent calls from referees regarding diving.


The betting bit – One serious one not:


Last year we had success following teams on streaks or going against teams struggling. Adelaide can’t be trusted but I’m not tipping Melbourne light blues until they win again. Wellington to win ($2.65) into a casual ‘Corona in Sydney’ banner.

Profit: 24.95 units (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.

Leave a Comment