We take a look at the star performers in Round 14 of the Hyundai A-League.
Player of the Week:
Youssouf Hersi: The Wanderers livewire winger put in a man-of-the-match performance in the derby and provided the assist for the game-s solitary goal. Hersi has been hampered by injuries this season but his display on Saturday night suggests he is returning to levels that confounded opposition defences in the Wanderers' inaugural campaign. The Dutchman is off-contract at season-s end and will be one of the most sought after signatures.
Mark Birighitti:The Jets custodian has been on fire this term, coming to his side-s rescue throughout what has been an inconsistent season from Newcastle to date. Birighitti saved his side another point when he produced a fantastic reflex save from the boot of Archie Thompson. The 22-year-old dived full length to push the ball around the post and earn his side a share of the points late-on against Victory.
Daniel Alessi: Young Wanderers defender Daniel Alessi was thrown into the cauldron of a Sydney derby to make his debut and was certainly not overawed by the occasion. The 16-year-old became the third youngest player to appear in the A-League and fitted in seamlessly to Western Sydney-s backline. Alessi did a fine job on in form Sydney FC utilty Ali Abbas and is certainly a player of the future.
Nikola Petkovic: In what has been a turbulent season for the Sky Blues the Serbian defender has been one of their most consistent performers. Petkovic again stood tall at the back for Sydney FC in the derby, making a number of critical interventions to repel the Wanderers attack. Only a fortuitous cross and Santalab finish late on prevented his side coming away from Pirtek Stadium with a cleansheet.
Manny Muscat: The versatile Phoenix defender has been in vintage form of late and put in another fine display at the back in blustery conditions against the Mariners. Since signing a contract extension mid-season Muscat has been a key contributor behind Wellington-s resurgence. The 29-year-old helped restrict the Mariners to two shots on target in their draw on Sunday.
Tarek Elrich: Elrich has been one of the key architects behind Adelaide-s change in style this year. His confidence on the ball and astute passing game has helped allow the Reds to play out from the back. The defender put in a fine display as the Reds upset the Roar at Suncorp Stadium. The Roar have been scoring for fun in recent times but Elrich helped ensure the likes of Berisha, Broich and Petratos had a relatively quiet day at the office.
Terry McFlynn: Club legend Terry McFlynn was a standout in midfield in his first start of the season. The former Sydney FC captain is part of the club-s fabric, having played every season in Sky Blue since the induction of the Hyundai A-League. McFlynn filled his role with aplomb, thwarting the space the likes of Ono and Mooy usually thrive in. We have surely not seen the last of the Northern-Irishman this campaign.
Jordan Elsey: It-s been a whirlwind fortnight for Adelaide United defender Jordan Elsey. After travelling to Hong Kong in the hope of securing a loan with Kitchee FC, the 19-year-old returned to the Reds last Tuesday when the deal failed to materialise. Elsey, a central defender came off the bench to score the winner against the Roar when deployed in midfield. His brave header across goal proving the difference against the league leaders. The youngster backed up for the Youth Team on the weekend unfortunately picking up a red card which will see him miss one match.
Kenny Cunningham: The Costa Rican is starting to hit his straps for Wellington in recent weeks, delivering on the potential that was promised by compatriot Carlos Hernandez. Cunningham scored his second goal for the club when he netted an equaliser a minute before the break against the Mariners. The Phoenix speedster latched onto a half-chance and poked home to give the hosts a share of the points.
Kosta Barbarouses: The Kiwi international has been an unheralded contributor since joining the Victory on a three-year deal this season. The attacker made a break down the right flank before providing a pinpoint cross for Andrew Nabbout to equalise shortly after the Jets had opened the scoring. Barbarouses has been a constant threat this season and one Victory will be relying on in the run-in to the finals.
Shane Smeltz: Perth Glory-s marquee striker and the A-League-s highest ever goal scorer made his eagerly anticipated return from injury in Round 14. The Kiwi international added to his career goal tally grabbing a brace off the bench to extend Heart-s winless run. Smeltz did it all himself in netting the Glory-s second goal and applied a clinical finish to add a third and secure the points. The Glory are back in the top six and things are looking on the up in the west.