Talking Points: Are Melbourne Victory becoming Big Blue supremos?
When James Troisi doubled Melbourne Victory’s lead on Saturday night, he helped them make a huge statement: Victory are formidable in the Big Blue, having won their last three against Sydney FC.
That streak began in the Hyundai A-League 2018 Semi-Final, when Terry Antonis ran half the length of the field to bury his old side in the 117th minute.
Fast forward to November 25: Again the navy blue outfit triumphed over their Sky Blue nemesis, this time on their own turf. Goals to Keisuke Honda cancelled out Adam Le Fondre’s equaliser after Ola Toivonen had opened the scoring.
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ROUND 16: Keogh and Kilkenny on target as Glory rediscover mojo against Newcastle
ROUND 16: Blackwood hits stoppage-time winner to break Central Coast hearts
ROUND 16: Toivonen’s sublime free-kick sparks Victory to claim Big Blue bragging rights
Psychologically, Saturday night’s win will have massive ramifications for Melbourne Victory. Both sides insist they only ever focus on one game at a time, but Melbourne’s hot-streak would no doubt play on the minds of both sets of players.
What’s more, Victory leapfrogged their rivals, putting the pressure on Sydney FC to keep up pace or risk falling out of touch with their neighbours.
With the AFC Asian Champions League 2019 upon us in just over a month’s time, both sides will get stretched as they negotiate a busy schedule with long away trips.
So the advantage is with Melbourne Victory as we approach the two-thirds mark of the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Season.
Kilkenny driving Perth's charge
33 appears to be the new 23-years-old as Neil Kilkenny winds back the clock for Perth Glory and helps them consolidate their spot at the top of the ladder.
The former Birmingham City, Leeds United and Melbourne City midfielder has had a sensational Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Season, highlighted yesterday with his sublime shot to double Perth's lead on 47 minutes.
With seemingly no options in front of him, Kilkenny danced around a defender at the edge of the box before bending his shot into the top-right corner.
That brings Kilkenny's stats this season to four goals and four assists, proving he is a capable maestro in the heartbeat of Perth's midfield.
His ability to read the game is second to none, making Kilkenny one of the unsung heroes of this campaign.
Williams takes over from Singh
A month ago, we waxed lyrical about Sarpreet Singh’s exploits for Wellington Phoenix.
The 19-year-old grabbed two goals and three assists in December, leading the charge as Wellington began their nine-game unbeaten run in the league.
Well, he is now in good company with teammate David Williams bagging five goals in his last eight games.
Williams’s first-time strike on Saturday night led the Phoenix to a 1-0 win over Melbourne City in a must-win game. Had Wellington lost, they would have fallen seven points behind Warren Joyce’s men.
However, the win now puts them within a point of Melbourne City and in with a real chance of nabbing a home semi-final.
A remarkable achievement from a side that many had pipped to dwell in the doldrums.
First goals get the job done in Adelaide
It was a day of celebrations for three reasons in Adelaide: George Blackwood and Isaias got their first goals of the campaign, and the club got a crucial three points in their 2-1 win over the Central Coast Mariners.
Things were looking promising for Mike Mulvey's men after Andrew Hoole had opened the scoring with a screamer.
But you should never count your chickens for the eggs hatch as Isaias neatly tucked away his first goal of the season, before George Blackwood popped up in injury time to give Adelaide all three points.
With Adelaide besieged by injuries up front, can Blackwood be the man to lead Adelaide's line and end their woes upfront?
Taggart takes control
The moment leading up to Adam Taggart’s equaliser against Western Sydney Wanderers will be talked about for years to come.
The Wanderers were on the verge of snapping their eight-game winless streak, when Vedran Janjetovic conceded a corner after playing at a ball destined for a goal-kick.
But, rather than focussing on that meltdown, we decided Taggart’s effort deserves many a plaudit.
Leading into the game against the Wanderers, Brisbane Roar had been going through a rough patch of their own, having not won since November 24 — what is now 12 games ago.
So when Taggart rose highest during the last-gasp corner and headed home, he so mightily deserved to celebrate with unbridled enthusiasm.
That strike typified the 25-year-old’s importance to Brisbane during a campaign where the side have leaked goals for fun and appeared bereft of attacking cohesion.
Taggart now has 10 goals and one assist in 16 games, directly contributing to 61% of Brisbane’s goals.
An amazing effort.