In A League of Its Own- 26

Tom’s weekly outlook on the A-League

The horrendous Kevin Muscat tackle from the 3rd derby last Saturday night is still clear in my mind; Heart youngster Adrian Zahra advancing forward on the right with the ball, but, just as he skips past Grant Brebner, Kevin Muscat literally jumps studs up in the air at Zahra. Zahra does a mid air flip, and the referee sends off Muscat, who then begins to yell at the ref, presumably for his correct decision. The tackle was sickening, and the injury to Zahra has ended his season, whether his team make the finals or not. It does bring up the question of the worst ever tackles or acts on the football field and, to be honest, I rate this one pretty high.

Aside from that incident, the 3rd Melbourne derby was a very good match. It finished 2-2, and it was a high intensity game. Melbourne Heart were the dominant team for most of the night, but the Victory got on the board first, when Matthew Kemp was played through by Carlos Hernandez on the left. Kemp then centred the ball nicely for Danny Allsopp, who headed the ball in for the opener. Carlos Hernandez continued his fine recent form, when he dispatched a free-kick around the wall and into the onion bag to make it a 2-0 scoreline. Melbourne Heart then began to play their possession game, and soon enough their dominance paid off. Alex Terra flicked the ball up to himself just inside the area on the goal line, and bicycle kicked it to the head of Aloisi, who nodded it in. Aloisi got his second after the break, when Melbourne Victory failed to clear a bouncing ball inside their area, and Michael Beauchamp squared it to a vacant Aloisi, who again headed home from close range. Although the Heart played the last 20 minutes against 10 men, they failed to capitalize on numerous chances, and the game finished all square at 2-2.

North Queensland continued their spiral towards non-existence in the A-league, after Adelaide United beat them in the most comprehensive fashion imaginable. Adelaide won the game 8-1, and despite playing extremely well, the Fury team rightly hung their heads in shame after the match. Marcos Flores and Sergio Van Dijk got hat-tricks, while Travis Dodd and Iain Ramsay also made it on the scoresheet. In a game that saw the return of Matthew Leckie, Manager Rini Coolen seemed disappointed after the game that his team did not keep a clean sheet. That was because Pana Nikas scored a cracker in the 71st minute to make the score at that stage 6-1. North Queensland’s position as a club will be reviewed at the end of this month, and while it is unlikely that they will be given the flick then and there, the franchise is in serious doubt to be around next year.

Gold Coast opened the gates to fans on Saturday night, and got a healthy crowd of just under 15,000 to see Newcastle take on the Coasters. Adama Traore got the home side off to a perfect start, volleying the ball home from 25 yards just 10 minutes in. Bruce Djite got the first of three goals for the night for himself 10 minutes from half-time, to make it 2-0 at the break. Clive Palmers initiative rubbed off on the players as well, as the flood gates opened in the second half. Djite bagged 2 goals, along with Shane Smeltz, while Newcastle’s lone scorer was Zhang Shou. Gold Coast can now take some scoring form into the finals, with front pairing Djite and Smeltz hitting their straps at the right time of the season.

The Wellington Phoenix kept their finals hopes alive, by demolishing Perth Glory at home last Sunday. Nick Ward had the only goal by half-time, but soon after the teams returned from the rooms, Dylan Macallister made it 2-0. Vince Lia made sure of the win an hour in, and Chris Greenacre got back on the scoresheet with a goal of his own at the death. Glory keeper Tando Velaphi had a shocker, and in the first half watched in horror as a long goal kick from opposite number Danny Vukovic went bouncing over his head, but bounced off the crossbar to safety.

Sydney FC managed a draw against Central Coast on Sunday, after they let a 2-0 lead slip, and held on at the death for a 2-2 draw at BlueTongue. Young star Dimitri Petratos scored twice in the first half for the visitors, with two quality goals. The second half was a different story though, as the Mariners managed a point from the game to stay in the top 2 through goals by Matt Simon and Patricio Perez.

The Melbourne game this weekend comes to us from AAMI Park, and has the Victory in action against the Gold Coast. The Victory must win this to feel comfortable about their place in the finals, so get down there for the convenient 5pm kick-off.

About Tom Riordan

Tom Riordan is in his second year of a Bachelor of Journalism at Swinburne University. He loves all sports, and plays for Brunswick Cricket Club. He supports the Western Bulldogs and can be found on weekends among half a dozen others in Q38 on the top level of the MCC.


  1. Interesting point about worst tackles… maybe other fans of your column have comments on that one.
    Great verbs Tom ;)

  2. John Butler says

    Tom, Carmel, I think Musky would unfortunately feature too frequently on that particular list.

    As a non-regular follower of the round ball code, I’m interested in how the aficionados would rate that ugly effort in the scale of offences. It certainly seems to have prompted an irate response, but are there comparable offences?

  3. Tom, I reckon the air went out of the game after the tackle. A draw seemed inevitable from then despite Heart’s numerical advantage. I thought before the send-off that Heart would get it though.

    The tackle was awful but it would have a long way to go before being the top ten worst. If Muscat hadn’t collided with Zahra just as Zahra’s leg was locked there would have been much less damage and I don’t think Muscat has the ability to time his tackles that deliberately. That said, it was still despicably reckless and the surest sign of all that Muscat’s career is over.

  4. John, you want ugly deliberate tackles, you need go no further than Keane on Haaland

    This one is awful as well

  5. Despite the absence of captain Kevin Muscat, Melbourne Victory travelled to North Queensland and scored 3 goals for 3 points, keeping a clean sheet in the process. Mate Duganzic scored a double while Danny Allsopp continued his run of form, scoring early on. In thew other midweek game, Brisbane comfortably beat Wellington at home 2-0.

  6. John Butler says

    Ian, I remember that Schumacher effort, now that you mention it.

    The worst part was that Germany ended up benefiting from it.

    That sort of thing isn’t even condoned in AFL nowadays.

  7. “That sort of thing isn’t even condoned in AFL nowadays.”

    Was it ever?

  8. John Butler says

    I believe that would have been classed as a “good old fashioned shirt-front” back in the 30’s. The type upon which legends were made. They were more brutal times then. Hopefully we have moved on, in sport at least.

  9. Martin Reeves says

    Tom – my take on Muscat’s tackle is that it proves he is past it. Kevin has had the ability to take out the ball and the man simultaneously in tackles. Normally it provides a giggle when no damage is done, but can sometimes cause injury. Against Zahra, Muscat’s timing was so off, that the ball was nowhere in sight, yet he went through with the challenge regardless. And it was horrendous.

    He embarrassed himself and the club, and gave the moral high ground to the Heart as both clubs try to establish themselves in the Melbourne sporting landscape.

    Kevin has been pivotal in building the Victory, and in turn, the A-League, early on providing it with some credibility through Melbourne’s success and big crowds. And his effort in his last Melbourne derby will make the rivalry even stronger, which will be the only good thing to come from his tackle.

  10. Unfortunately I think that Kevin Muscat’s career has too many of these incidents. Wasn’t he sued for damages (and lost) over a damaging tackle in England? I note that Merrick was reported not to have seen the incident – perhaps he was watching tennis on TV.

  11. Chris Weaver says

    I try to attend games and support both sides through sheer love of the sport, but Saturday night’s game left a bitter taste in my mouth.

    Appalling Kevin Muscat tackles have happened far too often for this to be passed off as an accident or simply a sign that the game has ‘passed him’. He is finished (note his culpability on the Heart’s second goal), but I refuse to believe there was nothing malicious about the tackle. It looked like the bitter actions of a man who has always dished it out but been the first to complain when he’s been on the receiving end of fouls.

    As for the game itself – I disagree about it being either a good game or played at ‘high intensity’. Two brilliant individual acts aside (Hernandez’s free-kick, Terra’s overhead kick), it was a slow game marred by niggling tackles and sloppy finishing. The closed Etihad Stadium roof meant that it felt stiffling and suffocating as a spectator, so I would suspect that it was a huge reason for much of the second half being played at walking pace.

    It was a pity too – the first two derbies were brilliant games and reflected very positively on the rising standards we’ve seen in the A-League this season.

  12. JB, the ‘shirtfront’ was also OK in soccer. Back in the day keepers could be charged into the goal with a legit hip and shoulder. But Schumacher’s tackle came with an elbow to the head — surely something never sanctioned in footy.

    Chris, Hernandez’s free kick may well have cannoned off Srhoj’s head if not for Muscat’s actions.

    I enjoyed the game — but that was because Heart dominated I suppose. They look like a team ready to have a good second year.

  13. A positive spin for the a-League has been the p[erformances by players in the Asian Cup. Matt McKay has been otstanding. Robbie Kruse was scintillating off the bench the other night – note, though, that even “Snail” Neill was running the ball out, so perhaps the Uzbeks were seriously slow/otclassed. But those two players have represented domestic soccer exceptionally well. Sasa’s meteoric rise is also a reminder that there are many different pathways to the top.

  14. Chris Weaver says

    The ‘shoulder barge’ had already been outlawed though by 1982. Regardless of whether it was a hip or elbow (I’ve always thought it looked like both), a competent referee would have sent Schumacher off.

    I take your point about Muscat barging the wall away, but from my vantage point it looked superbly placed. Maybe my view is coloured by having seen him hit several superb free-kicks this season.

  15. Chris Weaver says

    Crio – “Robbie Kruse was scintillating off the bench the other night”

    Yep. It was his absence too which I reckon reduced the standard of the derby; moreso than any other player, Archie Thompson included.

    I know Fox Sports and the written media try to overstate the standard of our national competition, but I hated the complete disgust shown to it by Pim Verbeek. Holger Osieck has recognised the competency and talent of some A-League players, and selected the side accordingly. More power to him.

  16. Chris Weaver says

    Btw I’m new to the website, so just want to say how much I appreciate Tom’s round-ups. They’re a really good read.

  17. Martin Reeves says

    It’s been great to see the A-League players more than hold their own in the national team. Kruse looked at home when he came on and I hope we see him during the final at some stage.

    Big Sasa was an inspired choice for this tournament, has barely put a foot wrong and continually improved with each game.

    I’ve backed a draw after 90mins of the final as I can’t split them. Could go down to penalties I think. Australia and Japan are slowly building an epio rivalry.

    Hopefully the final gets some decent coverage in the local press as the tournament has been very entertaining and the Socceroos have represented us extremely well. Lucas Neill publicly supported the Qatar win to host the 2022 WC which would have gone a long way to endearing us with the AFC.

  18. Chris Weaver says

    “Big Sasa was an inspired choice for this tournament, has barely put a foot wrong and continually improved with each game.”

    He was superb last year in the ACL for Seongnam Ilhwa against the Victory. He seemed to have really benefitted from the speed and technique training used in Korea – looked lean and strong.

  19. 18 weeks for Muscy. Sound right? Loophole is that it does not carry over to the Asian Comp – that will be his swansong.

  20. Correction…8 weeks!

  21. And Jedinak, of course, was a CC Mariner pre-Turkey!

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