Heroic Moments: the unsung hero behind Wellington's Hyundai A-League charge
Wellington Phoenix attacker David Williams was long overdue a moment in the Hyundai A-League spotlight.
While a consistently outstanding performer for Mark Rudan, the 31-year-old has at times been kept in the shadows amid the relentless form of Roy Krishna this season.
That was until the forward emerged from the supporting cast to register a brilliant hat-trick against Newcastle Jets in Phoenix’s 4-1 win on Saturday.
With Phoenix star Krishna sidelined through suspension, Williams was handed the leading role in Wellington’s attack for the visit of Newcastle.
It was a part the former Liverpool trainee, now on 11 goals for the season, executed to perfection.
“Some people could say there was a lot of pressure on the front line with Roy out and question how is the team going to go without Roy, but the best way to do it is by actions and we did it,” Williams told stuff.nz after the match.
Once labelled the best young Australian talent since Harry Kewell by ex-Queensland Roar stalwart Miron Bleiberg, Williams gradually disappeared off the radar of football fans down under following his move to Hungarian outfit Haladas in 2016.
But the Brisbane-born striker has played with a point to prove since his one-year signature for Mark Rudan’s side back in July 2018 and is now just one goal shy of equalling his previous best Hyundai A-League tally of 12, registered for Melbourne City in the 2013/14 campaign.
He is a true reflection of the team spirit and hunger to defy critics that has underpinned Wellington’s charge to Championship contention.
"He's a terrific individual and a terrific human being," Rudan purred after the match, "and I'm really proud, I think we all are, with what Willo has been able to achieve this season."
"There's more to come too, and that's the scary thing about it."
Toivonen's landmark strike
Ola Toivonen has enjoyed a record-breaking debut campaign in Australian football, and, with the Hyundai A-League's 5000th goal up for grabs, the stage was delicately poised for him when Melbourne Victory kicked off against Perth Glory on Saturday night.
Toivonen duly obliged, snatching the new competition milestone with a gorgeously struck free kick to send Kevin Muscat's side on their way to a 2-0 win.
That's the second delightful free kick Toivonen's scored this season, following his effort against Sydney FC in January.
What better time to issue a message of warning to Victory's interstate enemies with the Big Blue on the horizon next weekend. No doubt Muscat's towering Swedish battering ram will have a big influence on affairs once more.
Sydney FC's wildcard
Sydney FC boss Steve Corica admits we still haven't seen the best of Siem de Jong. A fit and firing marquee attacker could well throw a spanner in the works in the Hyundai A-League Championship fight.
Prior to Sydney's 3-1 victory over Brisbane Roar, the 30-year-old had not featured for Corica's men since he injuring his knee against Wellington Phoenix back in Round 15.
However, a late cameo off the bench for the Sky Blues on Friday showed the glimpses of quality which could turn his side into a title threat.
First, the Dutchman’s precision shot off the post rebounded into the path of Adam Le Fondre who re-established the lead, before scoring a classy match-sealer in the final minute.
“We see him at training so we see the best of him,” Corica hailed post-match.
“You probably haven’t seen the best of Siem yet other than a couple of the fantastic goals he has scored so far.
“But it’s vital for us to keep him fit and everyone else because we haven’t really had that option this year.”
Oriol Riera was approaching a maligned figure at Western Sydney Wanderers earlier this season.
Badly out of form and low on confidence, the Spanish striker became an outlet for Wanderers' fans frustrations. And it told too, with the 32-year-old going Rounds 10-18 without finding the net.
The Wanderers won just one game during that period, but with the former La Liga predator firmly back to his best, Markus Babbel's side are finding their groove at the end of the campaign - as shown in a 3-0 win over Melbourne City, in which Riera hit a double.
He’s scored four goals and assisted another in March – only Sarpreet Singh of Wellington Phoenix (six) had more direct goal involvements that month.