In A-League of its Own: Round 3

Melbourne Victory have finally got their first points of the season after coming from behind to beat previously undefeated Adelaide 2-1 at Etihad Stadium on Friday night. Returning international stars Mark Milligan and Marco Rojas were the scorers for the Victory after a Billy Celeski handball gave Dario Vidosic the chance to score from the penalty spot in the first half. Celeski’s brain snap came from chasing a partially cleared ball from a corner when he palmed it away to his advantage in full view of the referee. It was clear that the Victory was playing the best they had all season and soon after the penalty, Mark Milligan converted a powerful header to level the scores. Marco Rojas then won the game for Melbourne after he volleyed from close range after the ball had twice hit the bar. The win gives Ange Postecoglou and the Victory supporters hope that they can do it, and do it well. Marcos Flores was impressive, as was Mark Milligan who added extra control into the midfield.

Sydney’s first ever A-League derby ended in a 1-0 defeat to the newcomers thanks to Alessandro Del Piero’s second goal in as many games. Del Piero was outstanding, controlling the game and laying on some superb passes for teammates. His free-kick from 30+ yards nearly beat Ante Covic and is a sign that, when given another opportunity, he may bury one from that kind of distance. It was Del Piero who scored though after winning a penalty and converting. He was made to retake it though because of an infringement on the area, and Covic managed to get both hands on the shot the second time round, however Del Piero’s composure saw him slot it past Covic in front of a vocal Wanderers home end. Western Sydney’s defence again held up well, but they still haven’t scored at competitive level making for a game plan which won’t exactly be a magnet for the big crowds.

Melbourne Heart bravely fought for their 2-0 loss away to Perth Glory, who sits cosily in the top 4 where they look set to stay for the season. Heart were never really able to hit their stride as Perth controlled the game from the word go. Dean Heffernan made up for his two golden opportunities missed earlier in the game to put his new club ahead before Billy Mehmet also redeemed himself with a well guided header in stoppage time. It seems as though the ‘failure to deal with set-pieces’ disease has moved from the Victory to the Heart this season, and if Heart want to make their second finals series in a row then they must learn how to deal with corners and dangerous balls into the penalty area.

The F3 derby between Central Coast and Newcastle rarely fails to produce a fantastic contest, and Saturday’s 2-1 win to Newcastle was no exception. Newcastle opened the scoring early on after Emile Heskey won a penalty after he was, incredibly but illegally, outmuscled by Mike McGlinchey for the ball inside the penalty box. Ryan Griffiths converted and Heskey double the Jets’ lead in the second half when he stuck out a left leg to convert James Virgili’s brilliantly crafted low cross. Bernie Ibini pulled one back for the visitors who thought they’d got themselves an equaliser in the 97th minute when Patrick Zwaanswijk’s accurate header was ruled to be just offside. Graham Arnold was predictably disgruntled after the game and directed his frustration at the penalty and offside calls which went against his Mariners.

Wellington Phoenix has also continued their positive start to the season by taking 1 point away from their home game against defending champions Brisbane Roar. Stein Huysegems opened the scoring 16 minutes in before Besart Berisha levelled the scoring to keep Brisbane in the top 6. Wellington face Adelaide at Hindmarsh Stadium this weekend and if Wellington manage to grab 3 points then their season will be set up perfectly for a good shot at the finals.

Get down to AAMI Park this Sunday at 3 pm to see Melbourne Heart take on Central Coast. New signing Vince Grella is likely to be unveiled in front of his new crowd while on the pitch both teams will be desperate for a win to keep in touch with the top 6. It’s fair to say that the A-League is at its all time peak as far as interest is concerned, and is definitely reaching a global audience with Shinji Ono, Emile Heskey and Alessandro Del Piero attracting fans to the A-League from around the world. Crowds and ratings are also at record highs and if these trends continue, then we may see the A-League quickly rise to a competition of a very respectable standard.

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.

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