How your team fared and who made the headlines from the weekend’s #PlayFootball round in the Hyundai A-League.
A tumultuous fortnight for the Jets ended with a heart-breaking 2-1 defeat to Brisbane Roar at Hunter Stadium on Friday night. It was a much improved performance by Phil Stubbins’ new-look and underfire squad but a late own goal by Allan Welsh – who had been on the pitch a matter of seconds meant they came away with nothing. But they should take some confidence out of the way many of their youngsters played, in particular 19-year-old substitute Radovan Pavicevic who scored a nice goal, his first in the Hyundai A-League. The Jets are at home again next Saturday with the visit of the Wanderers.
For the second week in a row Roar left it until stoppage time to claim all three points. While it was nowhere near their most fluent performance of the campaign, it’s all about the three points for Frans Thijssen’s men who stayed within touching distance of the top six with victory. Costa Rican striker Jean Carlos Solorzano scored again while Thomas Broich had two assists, making it four altogether in his two matches since returning from injury. Goal-keeper Michael Theo became the first player in the Hyundai A-League to get to 100 wins. They are away to the Mariners next Friday night.
Central Coast Mariners
The Mariners showed great resilience to come from behind to snatch a 2-1 win over high-flying Adelaide United in Gosford on Saturday. Despite trailing for much of the contest, the home side scored twice in the last 11 minutes – through Nick Fitzgerald and Josh Rose just four minutes apart – to snatch an unlikely victory. It was just their third win in front of their home fans this season and also enabled them to keep their slim finals hopes alive. Coach Phil Moss will also be pleased to have seen teenagers Anthony Kalik (17) and Liam Rose (16) come off the bench to make their debuts and help turn the result around.
Reds boss Josep Gombau will be scratching his head trying to figure out how his side threw all three points away at Central Coast Stadium. Adelaide appeared to be cruising thanks to Awer Mabil’s 29th minute goal but a brain explosion from Michael Marrone – who handled in the penalty area – gave the Mariners a lifeline and they made the most of it. New signing Miguel Palanca showed glimpses of his potential with a cameo off the bench but Gombau will be praying Marcelo Carrusca and Nigel Boogaard will be right to return for Sunday’s huge clash with league-leaders Perth Glory at Coopers Stadium.
Victory claimed local bragging rights in the derby, beating cross-town rivals City 3-0 in front of more than 40,000 fans at Etihad Stadium. It was a clinical performance from Kevin Muscat’s side, who swooped on every defensive mistake City made and cantered to a win thanks to goals from Besart Berisha, Kosta Barbarouses and Fahid Ben Khalfallah. Kevin Muscat’s side have moved to within one point of first-placed Perth Glory with that win ahead of a huge trip to Sydney FC next Saturday night.
City’s recent resurgence took a hit as they were totally out-played by their fierce neighbours. John van ‘t Schip’s side simply had no answer’s to Victory’s slick passing, speed in attack and movement contributed to their own downfall at times with some sloppy errors in the defensive third. Key midfielder Erik Paartalu was a late withdrawal due to injury which obviously disrupted City’s cohesion but the debut of Socceroos striker Josh Kennedy – who looked lively in a 30-minute cameo – is a huge plus for the rest of the campaign. City is now just one-point ahead of seventh placed Brisbane ahead of a tough trip to Wellington next Saturday.
Perth stayed on top of the ladder despite now going three games without a win at home after a 3-1 loss to Sydney FC at nib Stadium on Saturday night. In an eventful encounter, Glory were their own worst enemy and gave away two penalties by new signings Dragan Paljic and Denis Kramer. The latter made amends by pulling a goal back late in the second half but it wasn’t enough for Kenny Lowe’s outfit. The sending off of defender Dino Djulbic didn’t help and he will miss next weekend’s trip to Adelaide, although Rostyn Griffiths will return from suspension.
The Sky Blues had to call on all their reserves of character and spirit to come away from the west with all three points. Reduced to nine men midway through the second half following red cards to centre-backs Jacques Faty and Nikola Petkovic, Sydney had to withstand a late barrage from the hosts to hold on for a vital win. Bernie Ibini continued his strong season with a sublime individual goal in the dying minutes to seal the result while the return of Terry Antonis from Socceroos Asian Cup duty was a boost. But they could be short on troops in the heart of defence for next week’s blockbuster against the free-scoring Victory.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC
Finally, the Wanderers picked up their first win of the campaign thanks to a 2-0 victory over Wellington Phoenix in Penrith on Sunday. The club’s first Hyundai A-League win in 288 days came thanks to goals in either half from Nikita Rukavytsya – his first for the club – and Brendon Santalab. Socceroos defender Matthew Spiranovic was superb in a midfield role for Tony Popovic’s side but the Wanderers boss will be hoping Rukavytsya’s calf injury isn’t too serious ahead of a trip to Newcastle to face fellow cellar-dwellers the Jets next Saturday afternoon.
Ernie Merrick’s side slumped to back-to-back defeats in the scorching heat in Sydney’s west. Despite dominating possession and chances on goal, Phoenix lacked a real cutting edge which saw them lose to the Wanderers for the first time in their last six meetings. Socceroos attacker Nathan Burns was exceptional for the visitors but for the second game in a row they were made to pay for a couple of poor defensive lapses. Phoenix remains in the top four – although Sydney FC are closing in – with Melbourne City next up for them at the ‘Cake Tin’ on Saturday.
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