Team of the Week, presented by Bunnings Warehouse - Matchweek 9
Matchweek 9 served up action aplenty as five wins and two draws were registered over the entertaining seven-game stretch.
The league-leading Central Coast Mariners began the Matchweek with a loss to Adelaide United but the four teams below them on the table failed to register a win, leaving Alen Stajcic's side four points clear at the top of the table.
Macarthur FC were one of the Mariners' closest challengers to drop points, falling to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Western United. Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar played out a 0-0 draw in a top-four battle before Newcastle Jets climbed into the top six after a 1-0 win over Melbourne Victory on the road.
Wellington Phoenix and Western Sydney Wanderers engaged in an entertaining 2-2 draw on Sunday evening, and Melbourne City clung onto three points against the Sky Blues - who mounted a late charge before falling to a 3-2 defeat in the Grand Final rematch.
The two bottom then sides met in the final fixture of Matchweek 9 when Victory hosted the Phoenix, and the visitors were left planted to the foot of the A-League table after two Rudy Gestede goals handed Victory a much-needed win at AAMI Park.
Read on to see who made the Team of the Week, presented by Bunnings Warehouse, in a 3-5-2 formation in Matchweek 9.
Jamie Young - Brisbane Roar
The Brisbane number one showed why he remains such a crucial part of Roar's A-League assault in Saturday's clean sheet against Sydney FC.
Young made five saves in total to repel the Sky Blues, and notably pulled off a phenomenal stop to deny Bobô a goal on his A-League return.
Jack Clisby - Central Coast Mariners
The league's top crosser was at his dangerous best all game against Adelaide United.
Clisby leads the league in crossing (68) and trails just Ulises Dávila and Jake Brimmer in chances created this season as the defender continues to prove himself as a genuine attacking outlet for Alen Stajcic's side.
Clisby's inventive through ball led to Daniel De Silva's first-half opener against the Reds, and the Mariners full-back kept busy throughout the remainder of the contest.
Clisby led all-comers in chances created (four) and crosses (nine), won four of six duels, four clearances and one interception in a dogged defensive play complimented by his increasingly potent impetus in attack.
Tom Aldred - Brisbane Roar
The Brisbane skipper soldiered on with a hamstring injury and epitomised the spirit Roar needed to hold Sydney on Saturday.
Commanding his side with usual authority, Aldred made some excellent last-ditch interventions to preserve back to back clean sheets for Warren Moon's men.
SATURDAY REPORT: Bobo draws blank on return as Roar frustrate Sydney FC in stalemate
Leigh Broxham - Melbourne Victory
In desperate need of a turnaround in the final game of Matchweek 9, Melbourne Victory stalwart and club captain Leigh Broxham put on a sterling effort in defence to help his side claim a second win of the season, defeating Wellington Phoenix and climbing off the bottom of the table.
Broxham led a makeshift Victory backline to a clean sheet, completing the game with a 100% tackle rate with four of seven duels won, five clearances and an impressive last-ditch block to deny Reno Piscopo in the first half.
Iker Guarrotxena - Western United
The Spanish attacker announced himself to the A-League in style during Western United's 4-1 thrashing of Macarthur on Saturday.
Guarrotxena commenced his side's rout by capping a slaloming run with a deadly long range finish, and played a gorgeous ball for Alessandro Diamanti to set up Besart Berisha's first.
He came within inches of capping the display with a glorious lobbed effort that came back off the crossbar, only for Berisha to bury the rebound and underline a brilliant performance from the Spaniard.
Alex Rufer - Wellington Phoenix
An astute midfield performance capped off by an assist for the all-important equalising goal made Wellington Phoenix midfielder Alex Rufer's impact truly felt against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Rufer led his side in touches (74) and passes (58), distributing the ball at an accuracy of 86.2% as he provided a stable base to Wellington's performance, allowing the likes of Ulises Dávila and Reno Piscopo to take the ball forward in efforts to win the contest. His reliable showing in midfield also produced 10/14 successful duels, two created chances and one assist for Louis Fenton's second-half goal.
Steven Ugarkovic - Newcastle Jets
The Jets continued to defy expectations in Matchweek 9, extending their unbeaten run to five games with a 1-0 win over Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park.
Ugarkovic's contribution was typically understated but incredibly important to his side's cause. The midfield general had more touches (87) and passes (72) than any player throughout the game, winning five of nine duels and creating the only goal of the game with a neat turn which left Birkan Kirdar for dead and broke Victory's midfield open, allowing the Jets to pierce the back of the net.
Jake Brimmer - Melbourne Victory
Through the negativity surrounding Melbourne Victory throughout the opening weeks of the 2020/21 A-League campaign Jake Brimmer has emerged as a bright light for Grant Brebner's side.
He played a key part in a vital win for Victory against Wellington on Wednesday night - just as he did when his brace helped Victory seal their only other win of the season to date against Perth. Brimmer assisted both of Rudy Gestede's headed goals in the 2-0 triumph, rewarding Brimmer for his incessant attacking attempts which garnered four created chances and seven crosses throughout the night.
Brimmer's performance against Phoenix followed a similar showing earlier in Matchweek 9, when the midfielder laid 12 crosses and created three chances in a losing side.
Alessandro Diamanti - Western United
The Italian maestro produced two assists in United's 4-1 rout of Macarthur FC, displaying an unrivalled passing range as he helped the Green and Black dismantle the travelling Bulls.
Diamanti's first assist came minutes before half-time, sliding a pass to Berisha to tap into an empty net. At 2-0 United were cruising, but Diamanti's second assist of the game ensured Macarthur's afternoon descended into the gloom as a heavy defeat developed.
Diamanti picked out Dylan Pierias with a ball from within his defensive half which cut through Macarthur's defensive line and sent the full-back galloping toward goal. The finish put United 3-0 ahead, while the assist reminded on-lookers of the immense quality possessed by Diamanti's wand of a left boot.
Jamie Maclaren - Melbourne City
Melbourne City returned to winning ways against Sydney FC in Matchweek 9, and it was a star-studded City attack led by spearhead Jamie Maclaren which proved the difference at AAMI Park.
Maclaren, Craig Noone, Adrián Luna and Andrew Nabbout teamed up in City's final third to great effect throughout the first hour of play as Patrick Kisnorbo's side built a 3-0 lead over the Champions in the Grand Final rematch. Maclaren scored two goals and assisted the third, however fortunate the assist may have been after his failed header on goal fell into Luna's path at the back post.
The Socceroos striker raced back into Golden Boot contention scoring his fourth and fifth goals of the campaign, showing a dangerous connection particularly with Nabbout operating on the right flank which could produce goals aplenty in the games to come.
Rudy Gestede - Melbourne Victory
The towering 32-year-old showcased his aerial prowess against Wellington Phoenix, coming close twice from Callum McManaman crosses before netting his first A-League goals by thundering in a pair of Jake Brimmer corners.
Gestede was unplayable at times at AAMI Park, winning eight of his 11 duels, and delivered a warning to the rest of the competition that the Benin international will be a handful for any team to contend with.
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