How your team fared and who made the headlines from the weekend’s round of Hyundai A-League football.
Ernie Merrick’s side are now ensconced in the top six with a hard-earned 1-0 win over the champions of Asia. Phoenix rode their luck at times but pounced when it mattered, with Nathan Burns continuing to push for a Socceroos re-call with the goal, tapping in after great lead-up play from substitute Roy Krishna. The victory will spare the blushes of Louis Fenton who had one of the misses of the season in the first half, heading wide from barely a metre out from an open goal.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC
What a difference a week makes for the Wanderers. Just a few days ago the club was celebrating becoming the kings of Asia but it’s now three defeats from three matches in the Hyundai A-League. With a horror schedule ahead – including another stint away at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocoo – it’s already looking like an uphill battle to save their season. The debuts of Seyi Adeleke and Nikita Rukavytsya is a plus for Tony Popovic with a few more options at his disposal in the busy weeks and months ahead.
It’s hard to believe a thoroughly entertaining and action-packed match between two of the best sides finished 0-0 at Coopers Stadium. The Reds had the better of the chances and only some wasteful finishing stopped them from claiming all three points. The result extends Adelaide’s unbeaten home record to 12 games and almost 12 months but was a blow with in-form striker Bruce Djite expected to miss up to a month of action after picking up a thigh injury.
The Sky Blues will be delighted to have maintained their unbeaten start to the season, grinding out a goalless draw despite not being at their best. And it could have been even better for Graham Arnold’s side had Nikola Petkovic’s clever quickly-taken free-kick not been controversially disallowed. It’s now three consecutive clean-sheets for Sydney FC ahead of another top-of-the-table clash against Melbourne Victory this weekend (though both sides will be severely depleted due to international duty).
The Jets will be kicking themselves for not registering their first win of the season. In their first home match of the campaign on the re-laid Hunter Stadium surface, Phil Stubbins’ side surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Melbourne Victory. Skipper Kew Jaliens and Joel Griffiths with the goals that snapped a two-game losing streak. After a couple of lacklustre performances, the Jets turned a corner and took it to the title favourites from the outset. It’s something to build on with a desperate Brisbane Roar heading to Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
Victory’s struggles in the Hunter continued, extending their winless run at the venue to eight matches dating back to October 2009. But there were plenty of positives for Kevin Muscat to take out of a gruelling 90 minutes. Despite going 2-0 down inside 33 minutes, Victory showed all their resilience and character to fight back thanks to goals from Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Besart Berisha. The result keeps Victory at the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder ahead of this weekend’s clash with second-placed Sydney FC.
Brisbane Roar FC
After slumping to a 3-1 home defeat to Melbourne City, Roar became the first team in Hyundai A-League history to lose their first four matches of the season. While the club has denied any talk of dressing-room unrest, there’s no doubt the defending champions are in a crisis even at this early stage of the season. The very public on-field spat between Shane Stefanutto and goal-keeper Jamie Young post-game is a clear indication Mike Mulvey has plenty of work to do to turn the club’s fortunes around. Youngster Brandon Borrello’s goal was a positive on an otherwise disappointing night for the Roar.
Melbourne City FC
No David Villa, no worries for City. In their first game since the Spanish superstar went back to New York, John van’t Schip’s side produced their most complete performance of the season to secure their first win. It was another David – Williams – who stepped up to the plate, scoring the opening goal while Mate Dugandzic and Marc Marino also found the back of the net. Midfielder Aaron Mooy capped his Socceroos re-call with a man-of-the-match display. The club has a chance to build on their break-through win with a home clash against Central Coast Mariners next Sunday.
Central Coast Mariners
The Mariners fell to their third straight defeat, going down at home 1-0 to Perth Glory. Phil Moss’ side had the better of the early exchanges but failed to make the most of their opportunities while on top. In the end it was only a couple of fine saves from returning keeper Liam Reddy that kept the scoreline down. They can’t afford to get too down on themselves though with a Westfield FFA Cup semi-final in Adelaide against the Reds on Wednesday night before heading to Melbourne to face a resurgent City on Sunday.
Perth ended their horror hoodoo on the Central Coast, registering their first regular season win at the home of the Mariners. Nebojsa Marinkovic was the hero for the visitors, hitting a scorching free-kick into the corner of the net from 35 yards out. The win sees Kenny Lowe’s troops leapfrog Adelaide United, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory into top spot on the ladder. Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic deserves some credit for pulling off a huge double-save from Anthony Caceres and Mitchell Duke while scores were still level. Will be interesting to see how the side pulls up for their Westfield FFA Cup semi-final against Bentleigh Greens just 48 hours after Sunday’s match.
*Tributes for the late Johnny Warren on the ten-year anniversary of his passing
*Mulvey tight-lipped on Roar in-fighting