Stats review: Marinovic hits his peak to keep ‘Nix in the hunt
Stefan Marinovic’s six saves in Wellington Phoenix’s 2-1 win against Newcastle Jets was not only a game-winning performance; it was his equal-best of his increasingly stellar season.
The New Zealand shot-stopper has been a revelation for the Phoenix this season, who had the unenviable task of filling the gloves of departed custodian Filip Kurto leading into the 2019/20 Hyundai A-League campaign.
But he’s done so with aplomb, and his most recent performance – in which he notched a his Hyundai A-League record of six saves against the Jets – was perhaps his best of the bunch, and boy did his side need him to rise to the occasion.
Through Rounds 7-14 the Phoenix went on an eight-game unbeaten run, playing a swashbuckling style of football defined by their tempo controlling, creative style spearheaded by attacking gem Ulises Davila.
But after the Roar put a stop to their momentum in Round 15 the Phoenix needed to bounce back fast, and if it wasn’t for Marinovic’s goalkeeping master-class they would have had no chance of doing so.
Newcastle lashed 28 shots toward goal in the Friday night clash – the second most in any game this season behind their own effort of 31 against Adelaide United in December – but could only find the back of the net once, largely thanks to the heroics of Wellington’s gloveman.
The result showed that along with the sleek, stylish attacking football Wellington have become renowned for under Ufuk Talay, they are equally capable of winning ugly – a trait that could take them far in finals crunch time.
Melbourne Victory approach four-year low
After their crushing 3-0 loss at home to bitter rivals Sydney FC on Friday night, Melbourne Victory have many reasons for concern.
New boss Carlos Salvachua has overseen two losses since taking the reins from sacked coach Marco Kurz, and another loss in Round 17 will ensure the Victory slump to a fourth-consecutive loss; their equal-worst Hyundai A-League run since December, 2015.
If Salvachua’s side are to avoid continuing their slump they will have to do so on the road against Perth Glory, one of the form sides of the competition.
Glory have flown into third position on the table; they’re undefeated in seven matches and have kept clean sheets in their last four.
If they can shut out the Victory on Saturday night (9:45pm AEDT) then they’ll eclipse their best-ever run of clean sheets in Hyundai A-League history.
Roar unbeaten in five as they eye a finals berth
Just five games ago it seemed improbable that Robbie Fowler’s Brisbane Roar would have a say in the outcome of the 2019/20 Hyundai A-League season.
But, five games on the bounce without a loss (W3, D2) have the Roar in seventh place and nipping at the heels Western United in sixth, trailing the new boys by just one point with a game in hand.
The last time Brisbane enjoyed such a rich vein of form dates back to 2016 where the Queenslanders went through October to December unbeaten, winning five games and drawing five on a 10-game stretch.
If the Roar get anywhere near that mark on this run they’ll be well within the mix for a place in the top six and beyond, with a five-game run against teams above them on the table standing before them.
With Sydney FC, Adelaide, Western United, Perth Glory and Melbourne City all to come in the next five rounds, Fowler has his side full of confidence and ready to take some scalps leading into what could be a surprise journey into the 2019/20 finals campaign.