A hugely entertaining weekend which ended with Perth Glory still on top. Just. Here’s your Monday morning wrap of the Hyundai A-League
Melbourne City FC
City are back! I think. After going in at the break 0-1 down to the Reds last Friday night, John van’t Schip’s men powered back with three, quickfire unanswered goals. United blown away by the pace and width of the home side’s attack in the second stanza. City’s 3-1 victory showing the club’s City Football Group bosses – in town to help launch their fabulous upgraded training base – that when their A-League outfit get it right tactically, they can hurt anyone. Goals to Baharudin, Kennedy and birthday boy Iain Ramsay. Aaron Mooy was again outstanding.
A 3-1 loss to City in Melbourne temporarily stalling the Reds’ push for the top two. A first half goal to Sanchez had them in the box seat but they were rolled by a spirited City in the second half. Awer Mabil’s petulant reaction to being subbed off adding to the Reds’ disappointing night at AAMI despite edging the possession stats (58%).
Another draw, this time 0-0 in a lacklustre F3 derby at Hunter Stadium. The big talking point being Mitch Cooper’s shot that hit the bar and rebounded off the line and out. Was it a goal? Who knows. The Jets have steadied the ship in recent weeks and Korean import Lee Ki-je looks an inspired signing, though they’ll need to develop a cutting edge with only six shots on target from 18 attempts. Ben Kennedy was a standout in goal for the home side. They face the rampant Sky Blues this Friday night at home, offering coach Phil Stubbins a clearer idea of where his team is right now.
Central Coast Mariners
With John Hutchinson left on the bench, this may’ve contributed to the lack of mongrel on the pitch in this dour 0-0 draw, albeit in humid conditions in Newcastle. The result not doing much for the Mariners’ chances to make the six, now sitting in eighth and eight points off City in sixth spot, though in Fabio Ferreira they have a star winger they can build an exciting team around. His battle with Lee Ki-je was fascinating. They face City at home this week with three points an absolute must.
The Sky Blues are the hottest side in the league right now. By far. That’s 19 goals in five games including this enthralling 4-3 derby win over the Wanderers in Parramatta. After smashing the red and black in the opening half an hour thanks to two goals from top scorers Marc Janko and an OG, Sydney conceded three times before a late twist with a winning goal from Socceroo Terry Antonis in front of the traveling fans. Arnie’s boys are peaking at the right time for a tilt at the top two. The only cloud on what was otherwise a special evening was the red card to Mikael Tavares. But what a night to be Sky Blue....
Western Sydney Wanderers FC
After a smashing win in Japan midweek, they still can’t get it right in the Hyundai A-League losing 3-4 in the Sydney derby. A spirited three-goal comeback (with two goals to debutant Kerum Bulut, his second a long-range shot that flew past Janjetovic) was spoiled by more poor defending in central defence to help gift the Sky Blues a winner. But coming back from three goals down in the first half hour to 3-3 was one positive for the side still anchored to the bottom of the table. Suspended central defender Matthew Spiranovic was sorely missed.
Glory now winless in six though with Victory’s loss, Kenny Lowe’s men remain top of the heap three points ahead of their Victorian rivals who they play this weekend in a blockbuster clash. On Saturday night they took advantage of a 10-man Roar to snatch a 2-2 draw. Djulbic with the late equaliser after Roar defender Brown was sent off eight minutes earlier for denying Jamie Maclaren a goal-scoring opportunity. Roma-bound Daniel De Silva had given the home side the lead in the first half in front of just over 10,000 fans at nib.
Brisbane Roar FC
After a heart-breaking midweek loss on the Gold Coast in the ACL, it looked like Roar’s Hyundai A-League revival was set to continue, leading 2-1 in the West late on but a red to Brown helped Glory drag this fierce contest back to 2-2. Solorzano and McKay with the goals – the Socceroo’s effort an eye-catching burst through and shot from the indefatigable midfielder. Roar with 12 shots but only three on target. Still a draw away from home against the league leaders isn't a bad result.
How did they lose this one? Profligate finishing cost Victory in Archie Thompson’s 200th match, losing at home for the first time to Phoenix 3-2. Besart Berisha’s missed penalty cost them in the end, but the stats tell the story – 33.3% shot accuracy for the home side. Goals came courtesy of Galloway and Barbarouses with Archie a late substitute. Now they must prepare for Glory at home in a top-two blockbuster this weekend.
A brilliant away win at Victory featuring a world-class set-piece from Roly Bonevacia. Goals to Boxall and Burns rounding out a wonderful effort Ernie Merrick’s men who are fourth on 33 points, equal points with third-placed Adelaide and Victory in second. Following the Asian Cup, the form of Phoenix plateaued but this shows they are back to their best. They now face the Reds in Wellington in a huge clash for both clubs' top two aspirations.