Almanac Soccer: A-League 1,000 – The Craft Edition


1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on round six of the A-League which commences on Thursday this week and includes a game in Canberra with the Phoenix jetting into the Australian Cosmos Territory.


Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships v Newcastle Jets, Thursday – AAMI Park
Each beaten last start third hosts seventh in this game but the gap between the two sides isn’t actually that great on the park as they have both lost twice. This is the second game in a week that the Jets face outside of New South Wales after they didn’t leave the premier state for the first month of the competition so hopefully the travel doesn’t impact them too much. John van’t Schip likely gave his team a rocket after their defeat and they will be happy to get home were they won last time out.


Big game for: Substitutes. Andrew Nabbout should some dynamism when he came on with 25 minutes to go against Wellington and the former Victory attacker is pushing for a starting berth.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Having star forwards is fine but the light blues’ failure to get a shot on target was a lowlight for them in Brisbane. You can make all the excuses about the opposition parking the bus but there is little excuse for such a feeble return in that stat at this level when money isn’t an object compared to the rest for the league.


Adelaide United v Brisbane Roar, Friday – Beer Sauce Burger Stadium
The reigning champs are in a funk and host Brisbane looking for their first win of the campaign. Adelaide’s five-game winless run is the first such streak to open an A-League season from the defending champs since 2010 winners Sydney FC in 2010/2011 (Sydney finished ninth in the 11-team competition that season.) Brisbane’s only defeat this campaign came in Newcastle but otherwise the second-place side have been clinical. However they will miss Jamie Maclaren here (Socceroos duty)


Big game for: Marcelo Carrusca coming off the bench must have given Adelaide fans hope as they chased an equaliser after Connor Pain’s goal on Sunday but it didn’t end up changing the result.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Seeing Danny Choi somewhere in the A-League down the track. Added to Adelaide as an injury replacement fo Carrusca, Choi was no longer eligible to stay with the club upon the Argentinian’s return but sadly for the former Blacktown City winger he picked up a stress fracture and will miss three months of action as well as leaving the club.


Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix, Saturday – GIO Stadium
Paul Okon’s Mariners turned over the champs in Adelaide for the club’s first win since January and they should go into this game in Canberra with confidence as they face a less then half-strength Phoenix outfit. Mariner Storm Roux, who has played for the All Whites, was caught out a few times in defence by Adelaide on Sunday and Ernie Merrick may have looked at that in his game-plan for his inexperienced side. With three goals in five games for the campaign for Ro O’Donovan Okon will be hoping his team can continue to create goal-scoring chances for the Irishman.


Big game for: Debut goals. Adam Berry opened his A-League account for the Mariners recently and with Wellington set to feature a host of their second-stringers one of two debut goals could be on the cards.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Craft beer. The tourism and transport links are not the only aspects which has drawn the Mariners to Canberra there will also be Garage Project craft beer on sale which is usually available at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium. Craft Responsibly.


Melbourne Victory v Western Sydney Wanderers, Saturday – Southern Cross Station Arena
Fifth plays sixth on Saturday night with both sides having conceded 19 goals combined in the opening five weeks of the competition so each of Melbourne mentor Kevin Muscat and Wanderers boss Tony Popovic would be happy to walk away with at least a clean sheet in this game. Carl Valeri’s return for the hosts will be important but the absence of Marco Rojas is significant. Whether Kerem Bulut appears for the Wanderers will be interesting. The forward was one of their key off-season recruits and he was missing from the match-day squad in Perth last weekend.


Big game for: Controversial decisions. Muscat was rightly aggrieved after David Carney’s handball lead to Sydney FC’s equaliser. This week Muscat affirmed his support for the video trial the FFA is implementing down the track, but you just know something will happen this weekend.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: More focus on. Despite the fact “head injuries are serious” according to the new A-League boss Greg O’Rourke two players Michael Zullo and Andrew Redmayne collided with items (a table and the ground, respectively) but undertook no Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) test in round five. Zullo’s injury was bizzare and has gained headlines for the use of the fourth officials table at games and Redmayne’s incident was very late in his game but both deserved looking at.


Sydney FC v Perth Glory, Sunday – Allianz Stadium
Unstoppable at the top Sydney FC have won five on the spin and only former Mariner Mitch Austin has scored against them this season. Despite their spot on the table Sydney FC has no Socceroos squad members with Perth’s Josh Risdon in Thailand missing for the west Australian’s so both sides are relatively free of changes. Perth travelled to Sydney twice last season and picked up a win and a loss – but the defeat was a 4-0 humbling in the final round of the season as they limped into the finals.


Big game for: Alex Brosque’s discipline. The Sydney FC forward has found the net three times this campaign but he’s also collected three yellow cards. He’s on pace to face suspension for accumulated cards by sometime later this month which isn’t ideal for a captain, or striker.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Melbourne was somewhat successful in trying to catch Sydney on the counter-attack last Saturday night, but it was just their finishing that often let them down. I wonder what Perth learnt from seeing that game.


The betting bit – One serious one not
This column is turning into a disaster, much like the Perth defence, which has now conceded four second half goals at home in three games to open the season. Melbourne Victory ($2.10) to edge the Wanderers into a nice array of retro Canberra Cosmos, Canberra City et al jerseys on Saturday.


Record: 0/5
Profit: -50 (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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