Team of the Week | Round 11

It was a long Round 11, with fixtures spanning Friday to Monday, but as Wanderers closed to the gap to Brisbane Roar at the top, here’s our pick for Team of the Week.

It was a long Round 11, with fixtures spanning Friday to Monday, but as Wanderers closed to the gap to Brisbane Roar at the top, here-s our pick for Team of the Week.

Player of the Week: Tomi Juric (Western Sydney Wanderers) How Wanderers have missed Tomi Juric. The young striker had been out of action for well over a month, but made his return with a start against Central Coast Mariners in their Monday night fixture. Juric marked his return with a spectacularly taken scissor kick at the back post to open the scoring in the first half and was a constant menace, outmuscling and outpacing Trent Sainsbury, who struggled with the threat all night. Juric departed to a standing ovation from the faithful at Pirtek Stadium.

Goalkeeper:

Mark Birighitti (Newcastle Jets)

Mark Birighitti has been a model of consistency for Newcastle Jets and the young keeper was at his unflappable best, as his side claimed the sizeable scalp of Brisbane Roar on Friday night. Birighitti did what many keepers fail to do, keeping a clean sheet at Suncorp Stadium and making a number of important saves throughout. His quality between the sticks allowed the Jets to counter attack with venom and they nicked the points thanks to an own goal and a late finish from Joe Gibbs.

Defenders:

Jerome Polenz (Western Sydney Wanderers)

Polenz was a dominant force at right back as Wanderers rolled Central Coast Mariners. Polenz coped admirably with the threat of Michael McGlinchey, Marcos Flores and the onrushing Josh Rose, engaging in a ding-dong battle with the latter. Attacked and defender in equal measure and showed his quality with a spectacular volley that whistled inches wide of the post. Had it gone in, it would have been a contender for one of the all-time great A-League goals.

Kew Jaliens (Newcastle Jets) Jaliens has adjusted superbly to the A-League after a shaky first few weeks in Australian football. His strength and composure has been the cornerstone of Newcastle-s rise up the table and he was superb as his side absorbed waves of Brisbane Roar pressure at Suncorp Stadium. Despite conceding over 60% possession, Jaliens and his defence showed great determination to keep a clean sheet and take the three points.

Michael Thwaite (Perth Glory) After a week of turmoil at Perth Glory, the distraction of a match was much needed. Although the 0-0 draw with Adelaide United won-t go down as a classic, it served the purpose of getting Glory-s season back on track, under new coach Kenny Lowe. Key to this was the experienced Thwaite, who was joined in defence by youngsters Riley Woodcock, Jack Clisby and Matthew Davies. Thwaite-s experience and leadership guided the youngsters through and Glory was able to keep a well-earned clean sheet.

Josh Rose (Central Coast Mariners) Rose emerged from the Mariners chastening defeat by Wanderers with his reputation intact. The left-back was in a tireless battle with Wanderers defender Jerome Polenz, as Rose looked to get forward and support the attack, whilst also marshalling the Wanderers attacking threat. Unfortunate to end up on the losing side.

Midfielders:

Mitch Nichols (Melbourne Victory)

Nichols is going from strength to strength as Melbourne Victory-s midfield talisman. Scored twice in the emphatic derby win over Heart and once the match became 11v10, he pulled the string with purpose and authority, before scoring his first A-League brace. He is one of the competition-s shining lights and he has developed into a player of wonderfully deft touch and vision.

Carlos Hernandez (Wellington Phoenix) Flew home before the make-up match at North Sydney Oval last week, but was back in the team for match against Sydney FC. When fit and motivated, Hernandez is worth his weight in gold, and he was in superb form as Wellington finally claimed their first win of the season. Hernandez pulled the strings behind Stein Huysegems and Paul Ifill and looked a class above anyone else on the pitch. He created so much time and space that sometimes it looked as if everyone else was playing in slow-motion. A class act.

Shinji Ono (Western Sydney Wanderers) It was a good weekend for the playmakers as Shinji Ono put on a masterclass at Pirtek Stadium. The Japanese midfielder was all class as he threaded the eye of the needle time and time again to create opportunities for those in front of him. His cross from the right for Youssef Hersi to score was inch perfect, whilst his ability to switch play in a touch or two allows the Wanderers to play an expansive attacking game when they are in the mood.

Forwards:

Stein Huysegems (Wellington Phoenix)

Huysegems movement and pace make him a handful for any defence, but his profligacy in front of goal has let a lot of teams off. This was particularly evident on Thursday at North Sydney Oval, when he missed from the spot to level the scores. To his great credit though, he bounced back for the match against Sydney FC and was outstanding. Huysegems didn-t give Nikola Petkovic or Sebastian Ryall a moment to rest as he buzzed around, feeding off the creativity of Hernandez. Indeed, it was Hernandez who created Huysegem-s goal, but the striker had plenty to do, rounding Vedran Janjetovic before sliding home a cool finish.

Kosta Barbarouses (Melbourne Victory) Barbarouses is a vital component of Victory-s attacking machine and he was in full flight in the derby win against Heart. Albeit afford space by a Heart team playing a man down, Barbarouses ran at Aziz Behich all night and was a constant attacking threat as Victory scored thrice and threatened to add even more.