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



1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on round eight of the A-League which starts on Thursday night in Gosford and concludes on Sunday evening in the Victorian capital.


Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory, Thursday – Central Coast Stadium
Perth’s margin of victory was somewhat inflated last weekend with their final goal coming as Adelaide pushed for an equaliser. The Central Coast were dominant at times in Newcastle so there are reasons for believing this game might not been a walkover. However the Mariners have Liam Rose suspended following his two yellow cards in the F3 Derby and are still looking for that elusive clean sheet under Paul Okon. Nebosja Marinkovic and Chris Harold roamed well down the channels to provide good ball into Andy Keogh and Diego Castro in the middle so it would seem the Mariners’ best hope might be to pack the midfield.


Big game for: Harry Ascroft. With Rose suspended Ascroft, who was elevated to the match-day squad last weekend, could feature here.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: The Mariners don’t feature much on free-to-air television at all this season – in fact only twice. That would be fine if kick-off times were sensible for home games but how does a family with young children get people to a Thursday night game kicking off near 8pm. FYI: CCM feature on SBS TV for the first time this year in round 23.


Western Sydney Wanderers v Brisbane Roar, Friday – Spotless Stadium
Staying in Sydney this week the Wanderers will have some recent confidence after nabbing a late draw against Melbourne’s light blues. The fact Brisbane have only scored seven goals (despite sitting third) will be a statistic that has not gone unnoticed by Wanderers boss Tony Popovic whose side themselves have only managed eight goals in this campaign. With Jamie Maclaren likely to play more minutes in this game after he was used off the pine on his return from Bangkok John Aloisi can go back to his preferred starting line-up in a game that could pitch Brisbane up to second spot on the ladder.


Big game for: Reminiscing. Two years ago the Wanderers fans were celebrating an Asian Champions League triumph and if it wasn’t for the club’s twitter account reminding us of this feat one could be forgiven for remembering the tournament still exists such is the strong jingoism that exists in some sections of the media once A-League teams exit the tournament. Hardly a good thing for a nation still struggling to confirm their identity in the boardrooms of other Asian Football Confederation nations. South Korean side Jeonbuk Hyundai have a 2-1 lead after the first leg of this year’s final.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Seeing the maroon kit again. As much as establishing identity is important (and as much as I despise the merry-go-round of new kits each season in football) I’ll express an unpopular opinion that I like the Roar’s ‘State of Origin-inspired’ kit. Maybe the club could use it in the away games against New South Wales teams as a common theme from now on?


Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets, Saturday – AAMI Park
Kevin Muscat’s side has had plenty of time to game plan for this fixture after their game in Wellington was delayed to a later date following the North Canterbury earthquakes. The Victory were comprehensive in their triumph over the Wanderers in round six and with an additional time to focus on training with his new teammates German recruit Max Beister should have benefitted further from this and it might be a struggle for Newcastle. Despite rallying to get a point on Sunday Mark Jones’ side face more injury worries with Aleksandr Kokko fracturing his jaw in the draw against the Mariners and Melbourne have scored 14 goals in six games. Jones will need to ensure his side shut down Melbourne’s crosses and turn Kosta Barbarouses away from goal where possible on Saturday evening.


Big game for: Leigh Broxham. After we had subtle dig at his free kicks/headers recently it should be noted Broxham was excellent deployed at left back in round six and the versatile player proved his worth. He will be hoping for a start and a chance to cause havoc on the flanks.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Bubble wrap. Someone order some and send it to Jets HQ. In all seriousness their injuries, now up to six players out for a month or more, is starting to mean they will struggle until early 2017.


Sydney FC v Adelaide United, Saturday – Allianz Stadium
First plays last in a disparity not many would have predicted two months ago. Even allowing for their turnover of players Adelaide’s meagre two draws and seven goals for the season is hugely disappointing. Jordan O’Doherty’s send-off was the first of two ‘second-booking’ red cards over the weekend which, despite the challenges, does show some inexperience coach Guillermo Amor will want to ensure Doherty tempers his game when required again.


Big game for: Tarek Elrich. If Adelaide is to break their win-less run the former Socceroo will need to continue his sharp runs on attack, and have more of them. His work which eventuated in Adelaide’s only goal in Perth last weekend was well done.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: It was Perth’s Andrew Ord a few weeks ago and this time it’s the turn of Adelaide’s assistants Jacobo Ramallo and Pau Marti to be in the sideline spotlight after Amor was sanctioned for his actions in the defeat to Perth.


Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships v Wellington Phoenix, Sunday – AAMI Park
This game represents the first of three fixtures in seven days the home side will play at the venue which will be headlined by next Wednesday’s FFA Cup final against Sydney FC so this match (cliché alert) represents the ‘trap game’ of the week. With Wellington having won their last two games and John van’t Schip’s team throwing away a win in Sydney but playing well at home this could be the match of the round.


Big game for: Rotation. If van’t Schip wanted to give his Danish gloveman Thomas Sorensen a run this might be the game. If something happened to Dean Bouzanis in the fixture have Sorensen come in for a final after no first team games for a while wouldn’t be ideal.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: A fresh and focused Wellington team. With the postponement of their game last weekend the Phoenix All Whites’ brigade got a rest after travelling back from Kone in New Caledonia and their fringe players, instead of sitting on the bench, got the benefit of playing a full game in the New Zealand domestic competition.


The betting bit – One serious one not
For not the first time this campaign we were done in by a late goal. So with no thanks to Neil Kilkenny here we go for this weekend. Melbourne Victory ($1.47) to see off an injury-ravaged Jets into a comedy set of arrows from the away fans pointing at the goal on Saturday night in Sydney.


Record: 1/7
Profit: -$49 (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.

Leave a Comment