A-League: MW11 Reaction

We’re mixing things up this week, in an attempt to bring you more up-to-date reaction on all the goings on in the A-League!

Instead of reviewing all the week’s action when the dust settles, we’ll be bringing you our reaction to results as they happen.

Keep your eyes open for updates after the final whistle!

Adelaide United v Newcastle Jets

The Reds welcomes the Jets to the City of Churches on Friday to kick things off in MW11.

United have been in fantastic form in recent rounds, grabbing two 3 – 2 wins over impressive opposition, and got off to a perfect start this week, grabbing the opener after just six minutes. Louis D’Arrigo received the ball on the edge of the box, and took advantage of the space he found himself in to unleash a cannon of a shot to give the home side the lead with his first A-League goal.

The Jets got themselves back in to the game with a superb effort of their own after 22 minutes, Connor O’Toole cutting in and unleashing a rocket in to the top corner. Adelaide’s young ‘keeper James Delianov has been in great form so far, making the most saves in the league, but he will be disappointed with his inability to stop this effort, getting to the shot only for it to slip through his hands.

This was surprisingly exciting, open game of football between the two teams, and it looked like it would end all square despite Adelaide’s constant pressure in the second half. Craig Goodwin looked threatening, and had two excellent efforts clatter off the posts, and it was the returning Red that finally broke the deadlock, capitalising on a defensive error from the Jets to find the bottom right corner with an excellent finish.

This was another huge performance from Adelaide, who move up to third on the ladder after securing their third win on the trot.

Brisbane Roar v Sydney FC

Brisbane and Sydney shared the spoils once again in this rematch of their MW9 0 – 0 draw.

Dylan Wenzel-Halls has been in desperate need of something to go his way in recent weeks, and his luck finally changed this week, opening the scoring after 18 minutes as his shot slipped through the hands of Sydney goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne and tumbled in to the net.

It was another tough day at the office for Sydney’s misfiring forwards, Barbarouses again having opportunities (two shots, two on target) but failing to find the back of the net again when through on goal. Head coach Steve Coricca made the decision to replace the forward pairing of Barbarouses and Wood at half time, bringing on veteran Bobô and 21-year old Jordan Swibel to try and get the Sky Blues back in to the game.

Brisbane ‘keeper Jamie Young was in fine form when the two sides last met, and once again put in a Man of the Match performance, pulling off some amazing reflex saves to keep the Premiers at bay, however, the home side were unable to control the game effectively in the second half, and allowed Joel King to whip in a vicious cross that found Bobô at the back post. The Brazilian connected perfectly, nodding the ball back across goal to beat Young and draw his side level with twenty minutes to go.

Melbourne Victory v Melbourne City

This one was tough to watch.

With the form both Melbourne sides had been showing in the last few rounds, this was always going to be a test for the Victory, but no one could have expected the performance we witnessed at the MARVEL Stadium.

City has the opportunity to take the lead after 17 minutes, with referee Alireza Fagahani pointing to the spot after Markovic cut down Atkinson as he rampaged in to the box. In-form Jamie Maclaren duly stepped up to take the penalty but blasted his shot off the crossbar. Not to be deterred, the Socceroo striker bagged the only goal of the first half, getting the smallest of touches on a Nabbout backheel to beat Max Crocombe from close range.

After the break, the Victory withered under the sustained pressure of a rampaging City side. Florin Berenguer put his team two ahead on the 51 minute mark, flicking a Nabbout cross between Crocombe’s legs, and the Frenchman’s early effort just seemed to open the floodgates. Defender Rostyn Griffiths headed home a Craig Noone cross after 55 minutes, before midfielder Connor Metcalfe bagged a brace between the 74th and 77th minutes. The final nail in the coffin came in the 93rd minute, with 20 year-old substitute Stefan Colakovski grabbing the sixth goal just minutes after coming on. The City midfielder grew up supporting Melbourne Heart (the club’s previous identity before the City Group takeover) and rose through the City academy, so it was fitting that he should be the one to hand the Victory the biggest defeat in their history.

Speaking in the post match press conference, Grant Brebner looked emotional and deflated, and it will be interesting to see how the inexperienced Scotsman bounces back from this.

Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory

The ‘Nix announced the re-signing of their former captain Steven Taylor this week, in a bid to bring an experienced head in to sure up their defence. However, based on this performance, they don’t look like they need his help!

Wearing a new red kit inspired by their new home away from home, the Phoenix kicked off Wollongong Appreciation Month with their first ever win and the WIN Stadium.

Perth were looking to bounce back from their previous loss at the hands of the Mariners, and would have felt confident of doing so against a stubborn ‘Nix, however, despite having a starting eleven that featured two of the league’s most dangerous creators in Neil Kilkenny and Kosuke Ota and two proven goalscorers in Bruno Fornaroli and former Republic of Ireland international Andy Keogh, the Glory simply couldn’t find a way to beat Oli Sail between the sticks.

Despite breaking records for their prolificacy just last week, and unleashing 22 shots at the New Zealander, Sail was impervious, saving every one of the eight shots that got through the solid Wellington defence.

Perth dominated possession, had eight corners and attempted 31 crosses to try and find a way through, but were unable to answer three clinical finishes from Ufuk Taulay’s men.

Reno Piscopo had another superb performance, and opened the scoring after half an hour, with David Ball adding a second just five minutes later. Wellington finished the game off just before the hour mark, with Ben Waine pouncing on a spilled ball from Perth ‘keeper Tando Velaphi to poke home the third.

Western United v Western Sydney Warriors

Wanderers were without manager Carl Robinson on the sideline, the former Wales midfielder forced to remain in his hotel room after coming down with an illness. Assistant coach Kenny Miller took his place, calling the shots from the dugout for the first time since leaving his player coach role at Livingston in 2018.

Wanderers had clearly learned their lesson from previous errors. Conceding early on and leaving their back three stranded when their wing backs rampage high up the pitch have both been issues for the Parramatta side this season, and they took a more cautious approach in Ballarat in a bid to end their two game losing streak.

Western United had one their previous two heading in to this home clash, but missed Victor Sanchez through suspension after accumulating too many yellow cards. The Spaniard is so key to Western and how they like to play the game, and they clearly missed his controlling presence in the centre of the pitch.

The home side lost another key figure after half an hour, with Filip Kurto being forced off the pitch after a collision with defender Aaron Calver. The Polish shotstopper’s head felt the full force of his teammates knee while they attempted to prevent a goal scoring opportunity. This will be particularly concerning for Mark Rudan, as the Pole has a history of concussion issues.

Jordan Mutch was named in the Wanderers starting line-up for the first time since arriving in the A-League around three weeks ago, and it was the former Premier League midfielder who nabbed the only goal of the game. The former Cardiff man was able to capitalise on some confusion just before the hour mark, picking the pocket of Jerry Skotadis and calmly finishing around a stranded Ryan Scott.

United’s threw everything but the kitchen sink at the visitors for the remaining half hour, but despite the best attempts of Iker Guarrotxena, and the devastating pairing of Besart Berisha and Allesandro Diamanti, they couldn’t find a way to beat Daniel Margush who made six saves or Ziggy Gordon who was rock solid in defence.

United now have just three days to regroup before they face Sydney FC away from home. Kurto will definitely miss the clash through concussion protocol, but it will be interesting to see how head coach Mark Rudan rotates his side. They do not have a huge amount of strength in depth, so it was interesting to see him leave on the 35 year old Besart Berisha and Iker Guarrotxena, who had been clutching his hamstring earlier in the game, on until the 89th minute, while the 37 year old Diamanti played the whole game despite complaining of a back issue throughout the week…

Central Coast Mariners v Macarthur FC

Macarthur made the trip up the coast on Monday night for a top of the table clash at the Central Coast Stadium.

Central Coast took to the pitch in their special Pink home strip as part of their annual Pink Round fundraiser for Cancer Council NSW. The club will certainly be hoping that the impressive win have an impact on the amount they are able to raise when they match worn jerseys are auctioned off post match…

Matty Simon gave the Mariners the lead eight minutes in, his low shot taking a nasty deflection from the outstretched leg of a Macarthur defender and rising above Adam Federici and sneaking under the crossbar for his fifth goal of the season.

The league leaders were dominant for much of the first half, keeping the pressure on the visitors and preventing them from finding their rhythm. The Bulls did grow in to the game after the half hour mark, and pushed hard for an equaliser, but Birighitti stayed strong between the sticks to ensure the Coasties went in at the break with a 1 – 0 lead.

Macarthur had more luck implementing their game plan in the second half, the Mariners decision to sit back giving the Bulls more time on the ball in the midfield to play dangerous passes in towards their attackers. The Bulls had an incredible chance to score just minutes in, but somehow came away from the goal mouth scrabble with nothing other than a yellow card for Matt Derbyshire.

Poor final balls from the Bulls combined with a rock solid Mariners defence prevented Macarthur from making anything of their chances, and their inability to capitalise would come back to haunt them.

Both teams made substitutes to try and freshen things up in the final 30 minutes, and it would be the combination of two substitutes that would prove to be the difference maker for the home side.

It was an absolute dream debut for Matt Hatch, the local lad replacing Bouman on the 81st minute, and immediately found himself on the end of a cut back from Alou Kuol, firing home with his first touch of a ball as a professional footballer!

The Gosford crowd went wild as the former Mariners ballboy sealed the win and sent last season’s wooden spoon winners seven points clear at the top of the A-League.

Sydney FC v Western United

Western United made some big changes across the field heading in to this clash. Ryan Scott made his debut start in goal with Filip Kurto unfit after his concussion on Sunday, while Tomi Uskok and Victor Sanchez returned to the side after serving their respective suspensions. There was also no Alessandro Diamanti, who played the full 90 minutes against WSW despite struggling with a minor back issue. The Italian remained back in Melbourne.

Veteran Bobo replaced youngster Patrick Wood in the Sydney starting line up, partnering with Kosta Barbarouses up top, while fullback Rhyan Grant made his 200th appearance for the Sky Blues in front of a home crowd for the final game of MW11.

Western were looking to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to Western Sydney on the weekend and nearly opened the scoring within two minutes, wing-back Connor Pain drifting in between two Sydney defenders and unleashing a curling effort on goal, only to strike the post.

Sydney took a few minutes to settle their nerves, but Anthony Caceras and Kosta Barbarouses both began to pull the Sky Blues back in to the game, testing the United defence and second choice ‘keeper Scott within the first quarter of an hour.

And their pressure paid off, Barbarouses winning a penalty when Aaron Calver kicked out his leg while trying to clear a ball that was ricocheting inside the goal area. Bobô stepped up to the spot and blasted his effort to the left of Ryan Scott, who was able to get a hand to it, however, the power of the Brazilians strike was too much for the United stopper.

The playing surface seemed to be causing problems, leading to a number of errors. Players were struggling to stay on their feet in both defence and attack, however, neither side were able to capitalise and the score remained the same heading in to the half time break.

Sydney looked like they may have to continue without Luke Brattan, the midfielder showing some serious discomfort in his knee after a clash with Connor Pain, and it looked like the midfielder would be withdrawn at half time.  

However, Dylan Pieria was the only change at half time, Western United removing Calver in a bid to inject more pace at right wing back.

Despite coming in to the side under difficult circumstances, Ryan Scott took his chance and gave a fantastic account of himself throughout the game, however, the former brick layer was unable to prevent Ryan Grant from celebrating his 200th appearance with a goal. The defender played in by Barbarouses to slip a finish under an onrushing Ryan Scott to put Sydney two ahead in the 47th minute.

United clearly missed Diamanti throughout this clash, and the pairing of Iker Guarrotxena and Besart Berisha were unable to fill the void left behind by the former Italian international. 

Their disappointing night was summed up with a late red card for Andrew Durante. The experienced Kiwi threw out an arm in a tussle with Sydney sub Jordan Swibel, his open palm catching the 21 year old across the face. After a VAR review, the 38 year old received his marching orders, heading down the tunnel in the 93rd minute.

Sydney have had a slow start to the season, but today they were superb, and were unlucky not to finish the game with a three or four goal lead over the visitors. I reserve a special mention for Kosta Barbarouses, who has on top form tonight. The New Zealand international has received a fair bit of flack in recent weeks for his wastefulness in front of goal, but he seemed to benefit from the presence of Bobô up top and played a pivotal role in both goals.

Player of the Week

There were some great individual performances across MW11.

Jamie Young had another superb performance between the sticks against Sydney, Reno Piscopo played a pivotal role in Wellington’s surprise thrashing of Perth, while local lad Matt Hatch provided the feel good story of the week by scoring thirty seconds in to his A-League debut for Central Coast.

However, after their absolute decimation of their closest rivals in the Melbourne Derby, I’m handing my Player of the Week award to the whole Melbourne City squad. Paddy Kisnorbo’s team were nothing short of sublime this week, and singling any individual out after such a complete team performance would be wrong, so they’ll just have to be content with sharing it.

Published by James Rhys

Welshman in Scotland dreaming of Down Under. Experienced freelance football writer, media and comms professional. Aston Villa fan, so used to disappointment.

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