How your team fared and who made the headlines from this weekend’s Hyundai A-League.
Kevin Muscat’s side remains unbeaten and made it back-to-back clean-sheets, doing just enough to beat defending champions Brisbane Roar FC 1-0. In a stop-start match, Jade North’s own goal gave Victory all three points in front of more than 23,000 fans at Etihad Stadium. It wasn’t vintage Victory but only strengthened their title credentials, clear proof they can do what all successful sides can, win ugly and when not at their best. A good thing to know with rivals Adelaide United heading to town next Friday night for a blockbuster.
Brisbane Roar FC
The narrow defeat was the last straw for the club’s board, opting to sack coach Mike Mulvey for their slow start to the season. The Roar have won just one of the opening six matches. While the players put a huge amount of work in against Victory, especially defensively, they left Melbourne with nothing to show for it. It really has been the story of their season so far. In a further blow to the side, experienced defender Shane Stefanutto looks like being sidelined for six weeks with a groin problem. Youngster Corey Brown might finally get his chance in top company. It doesn’t get any easier for the champions with league-leaders Perth Glory coming to Suncorp next weekend.
Glory made it six wins from seven games, holding off a fast-finishing Wellington to win 2-1 at nib Stadium. Goals to Daniel De Silva – his first Hyundai A-League goal – and a fifth of the campaign to Andy Keogh had Kenny Lowe’s side cruising midway through the second half. But the introduction of Ruben Zadkovich – and red card to him just 17 seconds later – turned the game forcing the Glory to hold on to the points in the dying stages after Roy Krishna’s late penalty. But as has been the case for most of the season, Glory’s defence held firm and is another indication to any lingering doubters that Perth are the real deal.
It’s been a rough week for the Phoenix, following on last weekend’s injury-time loss to Adelaide with another narrow defeat in Perth. Despite spending the week in the west to prepare for the contest, Ernie Merrick’s side really couldn’t get going and it was only Zadkovich’s dismissal that gave them a lifeline and made it a closer scoreline. Phoenix clearly missed playmaker Michael McGlinchey, who had returned home for the birth of his daughter. They will enjoy getting back home for the visit of Melbourne City next Sunday.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC
Wanderers are still searching for their first win of the campaign after a frustrating 1-1 draw with Newcastle Jets at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday. Tony Popovic’s side wasted a number of great opportunities and hit the woodwork twice but had to settle for a point. The positive for the Wanderers is their front four of Tomi Juric, Romeo Castelen, Nikita Rukavytsya and Vitor Saba looks like they have plenty of goals in them moving forward but they are leaving themselves plenty of work to do with a heavy schedule at the back end of the season just to make the finals.
The Jets produced a spirited response to their 4-0 capitulation last week to fight out a credible draw with the Asian champions. Phil Stubbins swung the selection axe and it had the desired effect with the recalled Marcos Flores scoring the goal, while goal-keeper Ben Kennedy and debutant right-back Nick Cowburn performing superbly. The challenge for the Jets now – which has been a problem all season – will be backing up a good display with another next weekend, in the F3 derby against Central Coast Mariners.
Melbourne City FC
City’s home struggles continued after they went down 2-1 to Sydney FC at AAMI Park on Saturday night. Despite enjoying most of the possession, they struggled to break down the well-organised Sky Blues defence and were eventually made to pay for a couple of sloppy defensive errors. Erik Paartalu made it two goals in as many games with a late header but it was too little, too late for John van’t Schip’s troops who need to regroup for a tough trip to Wellington next weekend.
The Sky Blues kept pace with the Hyundai A-League big guns, with marquee man Marc Janko grabbing a brace in the well-deserved road win. The Austrian skipper made the sacrifice to forgo playing for his national team against Brazil at the start of the week to return to Sydney early and that decision paid off big-time for Graham Arnold’s side. The only downside for Sydney FC was the late red card shown to key midfielder Milos Dimitrijevic, who will now miss next weekend’s derby against the Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium.
Central Coast Mariners
Central Coast’s winless run has stretched to six games after they were humbled 2-0 by the in-form Adelaide United on Sunday. After a couple of encouraging draws in the last week, Phil Moss’ side could never get into their groove and appeared tired in what was their fifth match in 15 days. Substitutes Isaka Cernak and Richard Vernes did add some spark when introduced in the second half but Nick Montgomery’s silly dismissal for two bookable offences summed up their day.
The Reds stayed in second spot after a workmanlike showing to dispose of the disappointing Mariners in the heat of Gosford. Spaniard Pablo Sanchez kicked things off with his first goal for the club not long before the break, then backing it up with his second just minutes later after a fine run by Tarek Elrich. It wasn’t Adelaide’s most fluent performance of the season but an indication they can win in a few different ways, and also impressive they did it without playmaker Marcelo Carrusca through injury. Sets up a cracking contest against the Victory in Melbourne on Friday night.
*Bombshell: Mulvey and Roar part company