Hyundai A-League Team of the Week: Round 22

Who stood head and shoulders above the rest in Round 22 of the Hyundai A-League?

We've assessed the contenders and gone with a 4-3-3 formation to accommodate the weekend's best performers.

Agree with our selections? Let us know!

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Mariners

Goalkeeper

Ben Kennedy (Central Coast Mariners)

Central Coast Mariners shot stopper Ben Kennedy stamped his name into F3 Derby folklore in Saturday night's 3-2 victory over rivals Newcastle Jets with one of the most dramatic acts of heroism we've ever seen in the Hyundai A-League.

The harsher critic among us might hold Kennedy at fault for parrying Nigel Boogaard's shot into the legs of Ronny Vargas for Newcastle's second goal.


But just when it seemed the Mariners had thrown away their 3-0 lead, the experienced glove man made amends in the most incredible fashion imaginable, twice denying Newcastle striker Roy O'Donovan from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

Kennedy also made one excellent reflex stop in the first to deny Steven Ugarkovic's lob.

READ: Kennedy heroics help Mariners clinch Hyundai A-League epic

Kennedy
Kennedy was the F3 Derby hero on Saturday evening.

Defenders

Matthew Millar (Central Coast Mariners)

Newcastle's top-six hopes have been put on life support following that 3-2 loss to the Mariners, but Jets fans may take some solace from the fact Matthew Millar will be on their books next season.

Millar was again the catalyst of his side's brightest moments in the Hunter Valley, first slipping a delightful ball in behind the Jets defence for Jordan Murray's opener before displaying incredible athleticism to weave past defenders and tee up Jem Karacan's strike from the by-line.

The former South Melbourne man won't be officially credited for creating Karacan's maiden Hyundai A-League strike, but his pass for Murray was his eighth assist of the campaign. Only Melbourne Victory maestro James Troisi matches the impressive MIllar in that category.

Millar set up two of the Mariners' three goals against the Jets.

Shane Lowry (Perth Glory)

Perth Glory tallied their ninth clean sheet of the season in Friday night's 2-0 win over Adelaide United, and Shane Lowry was crucial in nailing down another shut out for Tony Popovic's side.

Lowry was quietly phenomenal once more in his side's triumph, helping steady the Glory ship amid an encouraging second half rally from Adelaide.

He finished the match with five clearances, two interceptions and four out of six duels won. The 29-year-old has been one of the strongest pillars of Glory's Premiership challenge.

REPORT: Castro and Keogh spur Glory past Adelaide


Georg Niedermeier (Melbourne Victory)

Melbourne Victory are simply a tougher nut to crack with Georg Niedermeier marshalling the defence, and the German’s return from suspension proved critical in helping Kevin Muscat's men defeat Brisbane Roar 2-1 on Saturday.

The 33-year-old won nine of his 10 duels, made two interceptions, and accrued a team high six clearances – including a vital last-ditch block to deny a Dylan Wenzel-Halls header from close range late in the piece.


Jason Davidson (Perth Glory)

Glory needed a display of mettle to overcome Adelaide and while Diego Castro and Christopher Ikonomidis dazzled, it was their ever-reliable wing-back Jason Davidson who flourished to greater effect.

The former West Bromwich Albion man balanced a tigerish defensive performance with consistent attacking thrust from the left, where he enjoyed the most touches of any Glory player (71) and created a joint team-high three chances.

READ: The leadership duo commanding Perth's Premiership assault

Davidson
Jason Davidson has flown under the radar all season for Perth.

Midfielders

Jem Karacan (Central Coast Mariners)

The relentless midfield endeavour of Jem Karacan will understandably be lost among the fallout from Saturday night's mental F3 Derby climax.

But the former Reading man deserves immense plaudits for his role in Central Coast's first away win since November 2017.


Karacan shielded the Mariners defence with all his might during a trying first half.

And, having helped his side gain a foothold through his diligence out of possession, the Central Coast captain cleanly dispatched his side's second to open his Hyundai A-League account.

An experienced performance beyond measure from Alen Stajcic's captain on the day.


Mandi (Wellington Phoenix)

Mark Rudan's Spanish schemer Mandi oozed midfield prowess of the highest calibre in Wellington Phoenix's 3-1 defeat of Western Sydney Wanderers.

Mandi stroked in a gorgeous free kick to double the advantage, a strike which may rank as a contender for goal of the season come the end of the campaign.

Meanwhile, his majestic box-to-box patrol of the midfield saw Mandi win the ball back countless times and propel Phoenix forward with a series of insightful and classy touches.

The 30-year-old, often an unsung performer for the Phoenix this season, was the fulcrum of his side's resounding victory. 


Juande (Perth Glory) 

Rounding out our trio of cultured midfield shuttlers is Perth's Juande, who elevated his unheralded presence for Glory to new heights in Friday's win over Adelaide.

The former Real Betis youth contested a match-high 17 duels, winning 11, and won all three of his tackles completed.

No wonder midfield partner Neil Kilkenny was glowing in his assessment of the Spaniard post-match.

Juande
Juande ensured Glory left Adelaide with their ninth clean sheet of the season on Friday.

Forwards

Jordan Murray (Central Coast Mariners)

This was undoubtedly the former APIA Leichhardt man's finest hour in the Hyundai A-League.

Jordan Murray has battled diligently for the struggling Mariners in his debut top-flight season, often surviving on limited service - evidenced in full in Central Coast's shot-loss first half on Saturday.

But the 23-year-old ignited a rousing second half performance swiftly after the break, sliding a composed finish past Jets goalkeeper Glen Moss to send the Mariners on their way.

He also registered an assist for Connor Pain's crucial third with a smart piece of hold-up play inside the box.


Shayon Harrison (Melbourne City)

Jamie Maclaren has been the main man for Melbourne City since his deadline day arrival, but it was his strike partner Shayon Harrison who stole the show in Sunday's 2-0 win over Sydney FC.

Harrison teed up a big win for the visitors with a smooth finish on the hour mark and sealed the points with an acrobatic volley which hit Sydney man Paulo Retre en route to the back of the net.

The on-loan Tottenham Hotspur product showed just why Warren Joyce was so keen on snaring the 21-year-old's services alongside that of the Caltex Socceroos forward.


Kosta Barbarouses (Melbourne Victory)

Brisbane Roar must be absolutely sick of the sight of one of their former proteges.

Kosta Barbarouses haunted his ex-club with another double to make it five goals in his last two matches against the Roar, following a hat-trick in Melbourne Victory's 5-0 drubbing of the Queenslanders in January.

With two smart first half finishes, the Kiwi has now scored 13 goals this season - his best ever Hyundai A-League return.

REPORT: Victory prevail as Barbarouses haunts Roar again
READ: Muscat hails Barbarouses effect after trying period

Coach

Alen Stajcic (Central Coast Mariners)

Stajcic has only been at the helm of Central Coast Mariners for a matter of days but he and fans of the Gosford club will remember Saturday's F3 Derby for years.

Although the Mariners failed to unleash a single first half shot, the defensive organisation and collective spirit on show throughout the ninety minutes suggests the former Westfield Matildas boss has had a galvanising effect on the lowly Central Coast side.

The 45-year-old will hope the result is a watershed one for the Yellow and Navy.

Stajcic