Hyundai A-League Weekend Wrap
For the second straight year, the final round is set up to be a classic, with three teams in contention for the Premiers Plate and fourth place still very much up for grabs, following a terrific penultimate round.
For the second straight year, the final round is set up to be a classic, with three teams in contention for the Premiers Plate and fourth place still very much up for grabs. That scenario came after another terrific round of action and drama, which saw Melbourne and Queensland record important wins, while in the other crucial match of the weekend, Wellington survived almost the entire second half with 10 men, to force a 1-1 with leaders Adelaide and stay in touch for a place in the finals. The final game of the round saw Newcastle Jets give its suffering fans something to rejoice in their final home game of the season with a well-deserved 2-1 win over Perth Glory.
Results - Round 20 MELBOURNE VICTORY 3 beat Central Coast Mariners 0 QUEENSLAND ROAR 3 beat Sydney FC 1 Wellington Phoenix 1 drew Adelaide United 1 NEWCASTLE JETS 2 beat Perth Glory 1
Melbourne Victory kept its Premiers Plate chances alive with a 3-0 win over Central Coast Mariners at the Telstra Dome. Victory-s three goals came in a blistering 7 minute spell midway through the second half, after the Mariners had slightly dominated the first hour. The Mariners were looking to secure their place in the finals with a win or even a point might have been enough and were certainly not intimidated by the hosts. The first half was a fairly tame affair with Danny Allsopp going closest to scoring after just five minutes, his left foot shot striking the outside of the post. Central Coast Mariners upped the pressure after the break, with Melbourne content to play on the break. Matt Simon should have scored ten minutes into the half, when he set up perfectly by John Hutchinson in front of goal, but he somehow skied his shot over the bar. He was made to pay for that miss in the 67th minute, Archie Thompson brilliantly creating space for himself and driving into the penalty box; shooting at goal only to find Allsopp on hand at the back post to slot home. Three minutes later, Carlos Hernandez doubled the lead when he blasted a low free kick through the wall and through the legs on an unsighted Danny Vukovic. Thompson then added the third after 75 minutes, when he raced onto Allsopp-s flicked on header and easily beat Vukovic from 10 metres. The Mariners night got worse with just two minutes remaining when Dean Heffernan was sent off. Melbourne went back to the top of the table with the win, while the Mariners remain fourth and need a result next week against Adelaide to ensure their place in the finals.
Queensland Roar ended Sydney FC-s faint finals hopes, while also ensuring they remain in the hunt for the Premiers Plate, with a 3-1 win at Suncorp Stadium. Sergio van Dijk was the star of the show, scoring the Roar-s first ever hat-trick and continuing his brilliant goalscoring form in the second half of the season. It was Queensland-s fourth home win on the trot and with a final home game of the season also at home, they will very confident of doing what they have to do to get a top two spot. The attacking intent was noticeable early and after 15 minutes, van Dijk had his first goal, pouncing on the loose ball after Sydney keeper Ivan Necevski could only block Mitch Nichols close range shot. Ten minutes later, it was all square with Sydney youngster Kofi Danning heading home a superb cross from fellow youngster Rhyan Grant. However Queensland didn-t take long to get the lead back, just three minutes, when van Dijk was able to run onto Craig Moore-s long ball over the defence and the Dutchmen squeezed his shot inside the near post. Both sides traded chances in the second half, although it was Queensland that always looked the most likely to score, especially after the dismissal of Zach Cairncross late in the match. The third goal for van Dijk came with almost the last play of the game, when they broke from halfway, the ball going to the returning Charlie Miller and he fed van Dijk on the edge of the box and he made no mistake with his shot. Queensland is now two points behind both Melbourne and Adelaide, who both have tricky games in the final round, while Queensland plays Perth at Suncorp.
Wellington Phoenix maintained its slim finals hopes with a gutsy 1-1 draw against Adelaide United at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. Phoenix had to come from an early goal down and then the dismissal of captain Tim Brown early in the second half to eke out the draw and put them just two points behind fourth place Central Coast Mariners. Adelaide took the early initiative, Paul Reid given too much space inside the penalty area and he had time to place his shot into the top corner. It took a while for Phoenix to get into the game, as they slowly took control against the leg weary Adelaide side that was playing its fourth game in 10 days. It was no surprise then that Wellington got back on level terms, when Shane Smeltz played a nice back heel through ball to Leo Bertos and his cross was superbly headed home by Costa Barbarouses. The 52nd minute dismissal of Brown, for a second yellow card, after hauling down his opposite Travis Dodd, looked to have wiped any chance Wellington may have had, but they dug in and enjoyed the better of play till the end. Both sides had chances, although Wellington will feel they might have deserved the three points after dominating the latter stages and forcing some good saves from Eugene Galekovic. The point lifted Adelaide back onto the top of the table, albeit on goal difference, and they face a difficult away match at the Mariners, while Wellington has an equally tough ask in its final match away to Melbourne.
The weekend-s final match of the round, was a battle for pride, with bottom of the table Newcastle Jets hosting second from bottom Perth Glory at EnergyAustralia Stadium. It-s been a miserable season for the defending champions, but the Jets youngsters responded for their final home game with a 2-1 win. The Jets started strongly and never really let up for the first hour of the match, as Perth struggled without the star striking pair of Eugene Dadi and Nikita Rukavytsya. The Jets had a series of chances with Perth keeper Tando Velaphi forced to make a series of saves, including twice denying Jobe Wheelhouse, with the second save a magnificent reflex save that touched the ball around the post when the Jets midfielder looked set to score after bursting into the box. The breakthrough came just minutes before half time, when Kaz Patafta-s well flighted corner was met by a powerful header from defender Antun Kovacic. The lead was doubled nine minutes after the break, when Glory defender David Tarka was ruled to have brought Matt Thompson down inside the box, with Mark Milligan stepping up to blast the penalty past Velaphi. Glory was stung into action, as Newcastle-s intensity dropped a little and in the 65th minute, they pulled a goal back after terrific work by Victor Sikora on the left, saw him set up Scott Bulloch for his first goal this season. Both sides had chances to score towards the end, with Newcastle deservedly giving their fans something to finally cheer about after a wretched season.
Weekend Goals Tally: 12
Card Count: 17 yellows - 3 reds
Attendances (total): 58,020
Goal of the Week Some good goals this week, with many being debuts goals for the scorer. One players also gets our pick, with young Wellington striker Costa Barbarouses displaying great technique and courage to stretch low and forward to meet Leo Bertos- cross and guide the ball inside the far post, which leveled things up for his side against Adelaide.
Player of the Week Only one player in contention this week and that is Queensland striker Sergio van Dijk. After copping an early season bagging for his ability to not score goals, the Dutchmen has been on fire in the second half of the season and his hat-trick on Saturday night, showed just what he is about and how he could lead Queensland to the title. Each of his goals were different, but all showed his quality and how is a handful for defences when on song.
One to Watch There hasn-t been too many youngsters on the scene for Wellington, but Costa Barbarouses is certainly one for the future if his performance against Adelaide is anything to go by. Scored a superb goal and was a handful for Adelaide defenders throughout the game with his probing runs. Some way to go to step into Smeltz-s shoes when he departs, but his confidence will have lifted considerably after Sunday-s game.
Leading Goalscorers 12 - Shane Smeltz (WP) 11 - Matt Simon (CCM), Danny Allsopp (MV) 10 - Eugene Dadi (PG), Sergio Van Dijk (QR) 9 - Nikita Rukavytsya (PG) 7 - Charlie Miller (QR), Travis Dodd (AU), Cristiano (AU), Mile Jedinak (CCM), Joel Griffiths (NJ), Archie Thompson (MV) 6 - Sasho Petrovski (CCM)