Almanac Soccer – War and Peace (and A-League): Round 18

A free kick worthy of Billy Bragg lyrics, Sydney FC back in charge and the Roar bounceback from their midweek horror show. A lot of great stuff in this round of the A-League.

MELBOURNE CITY 2 (Arzani 43 Vidosic 82) NEWCASTLE JETS 2 (Topor Stanley 3 Hoffman 70)

The two teams chasing runaway leaders Sydney FC played out a pulsating draw at AAMI Park to kick off the round.

The Jets were looking like they were still angry over dropping points at home to the Phoenix the week before going ahead in this game after only 3 minutes through veteran Nikolai Topor-Stanley who met a pinpoint cross from Rodriguez.

City took a while to get in to the groove but had a goal chalked off thanks to VAR on 25 minutes. In the shadows of half time they had their goal to keep their small band of supporters happy when a penalty was given after Mauk was hacked down. Georgevski with the spot kick converted by wonderkid Daniel Arzani.

City were on the attack in the second half and were denied by the crossbar twice. City were made to pay though when the young star Riley McGree sent a pinpoint pass through the City for Nabbout who had his shot saved but Hoffman was there to put in the rebound. McGree was now showing the abundant talent he had when at Adelaide United and will be off overseas soon enough.

The Jets were on track for a big win in Melbourne to further themselves from third but a Jack Duncan error would deny them for a second week in a row. Duncan lost the flight of a ball that was crossed in and Dario Vidosic made him pay.

There was late drama though when Mars Bars McCormack (in possibly his last game for City) tried to expertly chip Duncan but Ugarkovic somehow cleared the ball off the line in what was a remarkable piece of defending. Great match for the neutral and the Jets keep that gap ahead of City steady and stay in the important top 2.

 

MELBOURNE VICTORY 1 (Berisha 58) SYDNEY FC 3 (Bobo 60, 78 Carney 84)

Things can be guaranteed in the ‘big blue’. One is that it’ll get testy. Two is that the ref will make some mega blunder somewhere during the game and, thirdly, Sydney FC were going to end up on top and so it happened on Australia Day.

In front of 20,000 or so at AAMI Park the game was end to end in the first half as both teams had periods of domination. Late in the first half Thomas denied Mierzejewski to keep it 0-0 at half time. Again both teams nipped at each others heels in the second half with Mierzejewski perhaps being lucky to stay on the pitch when striking Rhys Williams in the head going for a header. Still, indiscipline would cost the champions when the hot-headed Josh Brilliante took down Jai Ingham who was awarded with a penalty. Besart Berisha, the king of the spot kick, made no mistake to put Victory ahead.

The home side were hoping that they could end the losing run against their arch rivals but this only lasted a few minutes when Luke Wilkshire got behind the Victory defence and sent in a cross to Bobo who headed past Thomas to equalise. With the game heading towards full time and both managers trying to catch the other out with some subs the tipping point came in the match and it was again down to masterful play from Mierzejewski.

The big Pole sent in a pass that bamboozled the Victory defence. Bobo received the ball and a slightly bewildered Jason Geria clattered in to the big Brazilian that resulted in a penalty and a second yellow for Geria meaning Victory were down to 10 men. Bobo converted the penalty to put Sydney ahead and on their way to 3 points. Mierzejewski wasn’t done with the Victory though. Another world class pass put veteran Dave Carney through and the former Socceroo made it 3-1 to complete yet another win Sydney FC.

After two draws in a row for Sydney FC in the previous tales of their demise had been greatly exaggerated.

 

WELLINGTON PHOENIX 0 ADELAIDE UNITED 1 (Blackwood 32)

After two wonderful games there had to be a dud and this was it with Adelaide United getting the better of the Phoenix in Wellington.

With United looking to bounceback after being trounced the week and with Phoenix in some rare decent form an intriguing clash was expected but the only highlight really came from the young striker George Blackwood who scored through the legs of the Phoenix keeper Italiano.

With star man Roy Krishna missing for Phoenix for what could be a contract dispute the Nix lacked and edge and with United happy to sit back the second half was more than forgettable. Phoenix remained anchored to the bottom of the table while United consolidate their spot moving ahead of Victory.

 

CENTRAL COAST MARINERS 1 (Powell 63) BRISBANE ROAR 2 (Holman 23 McKay 54)

The Mariners’ season continued to unravel with a poor loss at home to a slightly improving Brisbane Roar in Gosford on Saturday Night.

After knocking off the champs Sydney FC and other notable achievements earlier in the season the Mariners are now not being able to string results together as they fall down the ladder. Roar had been humiliated during the week (more on that later) and wanted a win to wash the stink off and they got it in the first half.

2010 World Cup star Brett Holman scored for Roar first to put early pressure on the Mariners who melted. Around the hour mark captain Matt McKay finished well to make it 2-0 Roar – adding to his initial assist for the first goal.

In very humid conditions the Mariners got one back in the final 20 minutes when Blake Powell scored at the Sauce bottle end but any hope of a result went when the powerful Dutch midfielder Wout Brama put in a horrible tackle on Corey Gamiero resulting a red card and no doubt a hefty suspension. Initial fears were for Gamiero to again be out of the game for a long period of time but luckily it has only ended up being bruising on the bone rather than a leg break. An emotional Brama after the game also apologised to Gamiero in the sheds.

 

PERTH GLORY 3 (Castro 7, 40 Keogh 44) WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS 1 (Riera 17)

“How shit must you be you’re losing 3-1” was the chant from the shed at the Wanderers fans as the woefully out of form Perth Glory broke their five win losing streak against another awful team in the Wanderers in front of a decent crowd considering what was going on at the new place across the river.

The game was slanted towards Glory after only a few minutes the speedy winger Joel Chianese was brought down softly by the Wanderers defender Baccus. Initially there wasn’t a card but VAR (of course) intervened and a red card was given. Diego Castro converted the resulting penalty kick.

This is Perth Glory though and they conceded only minutes later when Liam Reddy had one of his brainsnaps and went off the reservation taking down Riera in the box and conceded a penalty along with somehow staying on the pitch after being only yellow carded. The Spaniard converted the penalty.

With the away team down to 10 men and Glory fielding a strong line up for once they were all over the former Asian Champions. Keogh managed to miss a free header to continue his poor form but another goal wasn’t far away and when it came it was beautiful.

With 5 minutes to go in the first half Castro a curling free kick worthy of any league in the world beating Janjetovic in goal and smashing in to the back of the net. As Billy Bragg once said:

“There is no real substitute for a ball struck squarely and firmly.”

Minutes later Glory had it at 3-1 when Keogh finally found the back of the net smashing the ball past Janjetovic with a vicious volley after Castro had been masterful in the lead up.

In the second half the heat went out of the game with Glory looking to add to the total as tempers frayed with the Wanderers player. Former Glory star Josh Risdon didn’t take being substituted very well ending a dirty day in his first return to Perth.

A much needed win for Glory who started both controversial new signings Dino Djulbic and Neil Kilkenny who both starred showing that perhaps they weren’t over the hill and were what the Glory were missing. The Wanderers are having the season from hell after being touted as a title chance at the start of the season.

 

TABLE

 

Sydney FC                                                   +28       43 pts

Newcastle Jets                                            +17      34 pts

Melbourne City                                          +9         30 pts

Adelaide United                                          -2          25 pts

Melbourne Victory                                     +3           23 pts

Western Sydney Wanderers                   -10           19 pts

Brisbane Roar                                            -7           19 pts

Perth Glory                                                 -11         19 pts

Central Coast Mariners                            -6          16 pts

Wellington Phoenix                                 -10           14 pts

 

The West Australia newspaper not preying to people’s prejudices on the front page for once.

SACRED COW OF THE ROUND – Sam Kerr

Okay she doesn’t play in the A-League and wasn’t that much of a standout in the latest round of the W-League. I’ve also waxed lyrical about Sam on this site for years it seems but Sam Kerr deserves more kudos and there were chants sung about her brilliant yesterday so that counts as A-League related.

Both men’s and women’s Glory teams played in a double header at NIB Stadium/Perth Oval yesterday. With the boys playing first a healthy crowd was in attendance but during the second half more came in, many sporting Kerr’s name and number on the back. While a majority of the crowd left the ground after full time in the men’s game others came in just to see the girls, just to see Sam Kerr showing how box office she and the Matildas are at the moment.

Normally I’m anti sports stars getting Australian of the Year. For a while there it seemed to the Australian Cricket Captain always got one with their baggy green cap and pay increase. Yet I’m so proud of Sam for getting young Australian of the year with the mitigating factor against my usual point of view being she has been the prime example of how much of a leap women’s sport has made in the past 12 months in the minds eye of the greater Australian sporting public.

She has also rejected signing for big bucks for PSG in the European season as it would clash with commitments in Australia with Glory and the Matildas. What a legend! Anyone who now still only sees her as former Eagle Daniel Kerr’s youngster sister rather than a superstar should be fired in to the sun. Hell, even the normally very conservative West Australian newspaper had her on the cover.

Roar fans making fun of a dark night for the club and league the previous Tuesday.

CLOWN OF THE ROUND – Brisbane Roar’s pathetic Asian Champions League loss. 

 

The Roar have struggled all season after finishing third the season before so the last thing they needed at the moment was a clash with Asian competition to see if they could qualify for the money spinning champions league.

The loss was awful against Pilipino side Ceres who were only two weeks in to their pre-season training as opposed to the Roar who were half way through their season. There was also only some 1500 in the crowd.

This wasn’t really the embarrassing thing about the game though. It was when the numbers fell off the back of Frenchman Eric Bauthec’s shirt during the game. No problem, just swap shirts with a different like when someone spills blood a shirt. Nope, not allowed to do that. So what did the Roar do? They managed to try and make numbers on the shirt with sticky tape making it look like a 5 a side competition down at your local rec centre. Numbers also fell off the back of other shirts in the end. Maybe if they just wore old footy jumpers with the iron transfer numbers.

An utter embarrassment for the league for not only the loss but the fact a club from the league could look so amateur with basic things such as uniforms. The club did apologise and didn’t blame it supplier Umbro.

At least the Roar fans could make fun of the humiliation in their game on the weekend.

 

TOTAL GOALS FOR THE ROUND – 16 (Season Total 233. Av 2.61 goals per game)

 

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT WEEK – If Victory want to do anything in the finals they really need to have a crack at the Jets in Newcastle. Should be an excellent game and expect Jets toecutter Georgevski to not be so nice to his ex-teammates. The W-League finals also kick off so check that out in the usual places.

 

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Comments

  1. Jennifer Muirden says:

    Brilliantly comprehensive wrap of Round 18 of the A-League 2017/2018. A thoroughly enjoyable read, Dennis. Where do you sit at the games at the Rectangular Stadium?

  2. Thanks Jennifer. I’m actually based in Perth unfortunately suffering through the Glory ever summer but I have been to AAMI Park a couple of times. Last season it was in the finals to watch Glory knock off City in the finals. Came straight from the Geelong v St Kilda game for it. Great Sunday arvo spent has to be said.

  3. Peter Fuller says:

    Dennis,
    I read your review each week and invariably find it illuminating, certainly deserving of comment(s).
    I’m intrigued by Newcastle’s dramatic improvement this season – certainly on display against (my) City last week – and again when hosting Victory yesterday. What do you see as the most important explanations for their progress?

  4. Hi Peter, thanks for the kind words

    I talked about this with someone on the weekend regarding the Jets and it all seems to point to Ernie Merrick.

    The club now has the backing of Chinese ownership but they haven’t splurged on marquee players so it’s not that. They got in a proven goal scorer in Roy O’Donovan who banged them away early in the season and then got injured but they’ve still kept scoring in every single game so it’s not that. Their star midfielder broke his leg weeks in to the season but they’ve still marched on. Journeyman players like Petratos and Nabboutt et al have stood up but it must be Ernie’s coaching and the culture he’s created and good on him. I, like many others, thought he was done after not being able to turn the Wellington Phoenix around.

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