A-League MW12: Reaction

Western Sydney Wanderers v Wellington Phoenix

There was a sombre start to Monday’s fixture, both sides coming together ahead of kick off to remember those lost on the second anniversary of the Christchurch Mosque tragedy.

Louis Fenton was a last minute withdrawal for the ‘Nix after feeling his hip during the warm-up, Alex Rufer dropping back in to the right back position, with Cammy Devlin coming in to join Clayton Lewis in midfield.

Ulises Davila was utilised up front for the Phoenix, and the captain found himself on the score sheet within seven minutes. The Mexican star controlled the ball on the edge of the 18 yard box, playing a perfect one two with Reno Piscopo before chipping over an on rushing Daniel Margush for his fourth goal of the season. 

Daniel Wilmering pulled one back for the home side in the 22nd minute, Bruce Ibini finding a way to unleash a cross despite being smothered by two Wellington defenders to find the former Wanderers ball boy in acres of space. The 20 year old defender controlled the ball perfectly, before unleashing a left foot volley to beat Oli Sail.

The Phoenix were back ahead ten minutes later, thanks to a goal of the season contender from Cammy Devlin! The former Wanderer found himself on the end of a deflected Clayton Lewis shot about 25 yards from goal, undeterred, the midfielder brought the ball with his chest, took the time and space to control the bounce before unleashing a vicious half volley from distance to give the visitors a 2 – 1 lead heading in to half time.

The home side came out with renewed vigour in the second half, and it didn’t take them long to get themselves back in to the game, Jordan Mutch drawing the Wanderers level with his second A-League goal in as many weeks. The former Premier League midfielder got on the end of a James Troisi corner, his header taking a bounce off the ground before beating Sail at the far post.

Tomer Hemed replaced Ben Waine just after the hour mark, and found himself called upon to convert a penalty, just moments after entering the fray.  David Ball found Cammy Devlin in the box, who was brought down by McGowan for the spot kick, which the former Brighton man coolly converted.

But the visitors were only able to hold on to their lead for 60 seconds, the Wanderers striking back immediately from the restart. Jordan Mutch finding Mitch Duke with a magnificent long ball on the diagonal, the on-loan forward outmuscling Tim Payne before dispatching a perfect volley to make it 3 – 3 at the Bankwest Stadium. The referee was quickly surrounded by Wellington players, claiming the goal should be chalked off for a push on Payne, but a VAR check yielding nothing more than a yellow card for dissent for furious ‘Nix head coach Ufuk Taulay.

Wellington opted to shoot on sight in the final twenty minutes, peppering Daniel Margush with a number of shots from distance in a bid to grab the winner but their all out attacking mentality cost them dearly, goalscorer Tomer Hemed losing the ball on the half way line and allowing the fresh legs of Wanderers substitutes Bruce Kamau, Kwame Yeboah and Nicolai Müller to hit them on the break. Kamau delivered a ball to Müller, who faked a shot before cutting back to Yeboah, the Kenyan born winger curling his past Sail in to the top corner.

There was still time for some late drama in this thrilling fixture, and it came in the 95th minute, Tomer Hemed appearing to have made up for his earlier error by grabbing an equaliser at the death. However, it was not to be. Referee Shaun Evans consulting with the VAR before disallowing the strike as the Israeli international’s left shoulder was in an offside position.

The Phoenix will be disappointed to come away with nothing from this seven-goal thriller, but Carl Robinson’s men showed real character to come from behind on three occasions to secure the three points. A second consecutive win sees the Wanderers end the round in second place on the A-League ladder, overtaking Adelaide United on goal difference.

Western United v Brisbane Roar

Western United welcomed Brisbane Roar to AAMI Park, both sides looking to put an end to disappointing runs.

Ryan Scott retained his place in goal for the Green and Black. Filip Kurto was expected to return from the concussion he sustained against Western Sydney Wanderers last round, however, he was instead left watching his understudy from the stands. Academy ‘keeper Charlie Emery was named on the bench, where he was joined by both Alessandro Diamanti and Besart Berisha.

The first half was open and end-to-end, Ryan Scott being called upon to make some excellent saves to deny Denzaki and Wenzel-Halls, while the Green and Black created plenty of chances of their own, despite missing their two star forwards. Iker Guarrotxena had a handful of chances to test Jamie Young, while Lachlan Wales and Dylan Pierias also forced the Englishman in to saves.

After heading in all square at the break, you would expect both sides to come out with similar attacking intent in the second half. But a slow start saw both coaches introduce fresh legs in the 57th minute, Gol-gol Mebrahtu replacing Joey Champness for the Roar, while Mark Rudan made the decision to introduce Diamanti for the Green and Black.

Lachy Wales thought he had broken the deadlock in the 64th minute, getting in behind the defence and finding the back of the net, only to see the assistant referee raising his flag for offside.

But United piled on the pressure, Wales and Diamanti forcing Young in to another excellent save in the 69th minute, before finally finding a way past the experienced stopper three minutes later.

Diamanti was involved again, whipping a pinpoint curling cross across the box to find a diving Dylan Pierias, the wideman almost horizontal as he headed home of the opener.

Rudan sent on the A-League’s all time leading goal scorer with less than ten minutes to go, hoping Berisha would help kill off the game and help secure a much needed win for Western United, but it was Brisbane who looked the biggest threat for the remainder of the game. The Roar unleashed a volley of attacks in a bid to pull one back and had the United defence scrabbling in a bid to hold out.

Winning a corner deep in to added time and clearly sensing a winner coming their way, the Roar sent ‘keeper Jamie Young up to try and help grab an equaliser, but found themselves hit on the counter, Pierias hurtling up field and passing to Connor Pain, who found the back of the empty net. Players and fans alike went wild in celebration, only to see the goal ruled out for an accidental handball in the build up.

Despite their disappointment, the second goal would have proved no more than the icing on the cake for United, who came away with a huge three points in front of the home crowd, leapfrogging Perth in to eighth place.

Ryan Scott was thrown in at the deep end last week, but has really stepped up in Kurto’s absence. The back-up put in a Man of the Match performance today, making nine saves to deny a Brisbane side that committed everything to finding an equaliser, so it was really pleasing to see the former NPL ‘keeper rewarded for his efforts with a first A=League clean sheet.

Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory

There was a delayed start to Sunday’s A-League action, torrential downpours in Gosford forcing an inspection of the waterlogged pitch at the Central Coast Stadium.

The game finally commenced after a half hour delay, despite the continuing downpour and sodden pitch, and both sides spent the next 90 minutes slipping and sliding their way to a thrilling 2 – 2 draw.

The Mariners opened the scoring in the 25th minute, Perth ‘keeper Reddy pulling off a great save to deny Daniel De Silva only to palm it in to the path of Marco Ureña, the Costa Rican somehow squeezing his attempt through the legs of the goalkeeper and in to the back of the net from an unbelievably tight angle.

Despite having a number of chances to extend their lead, the Mariners were wasteful in front of goal, and allowed the visitors the opportunity to pull one back, Neil Kilkenny whipping in a cross for Bruno Fornaroli, the Uruguayan dispatching a perfect header to beat Birighitti after the 41st minute, sending the sides in even at the break.

Richard Garcia made two changes at half time, Carlo Armiento and Dale Ingham making way for Nick D’Agostino and Nicolas Sullivan. Despite being level, the Coasties sat back in the second half, giving Perth more time on the ball and it allowed the Glory to create a number of chances on goal.

Despite sending an earlier effort wide with a misjudged rabona, the introduction of D’Agostino proved pivotal, the 23 year old putting the visitors ahead with a low, driven shot in the 76th minute of the game.

Despite having nearly twice as many attempts on goal, and nearly three times as many on target, the Mariners just couldn’t seem to find a way through the Perth defence, and it looked like the visitors would head back to Western Australia with all three points.

However, Central Coast’s chance finally came with one minute left on the clock, Luke Brodnar clashing heads with Matt Simon while trying to clear a ball. Referee Kurt Arms consulted with VAR and headed to the monitor, before finally awarding the home side a penalty at the death.

Simon duly stepping up and sending the ‘keeper to the right while driving his shot low in to the left corner to ensure the Mariners enjoyed a share of the spoils.

Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United

All eyes were on Melbourne this weekend, waiting with bated breath to see how the Victory would bounce back from their capitulation in the Derby.

Grant Brebner made four changes for this clash, including dropping Max Crocombe, giving Matthew Acton the nod between the sticks in his stead. The Scotsman also gave a start to Leigh Broxham , playing the midfielder out of position at centre half, hoping his experience could help settle their shaky defence.

Adelaide also had a fresh face in goal, twenty year-old Joe Gauci getting his first start after James Delianov failed a last minute fitness test, while Josh Cavallo made his starting debut for the visitors.

The “Original Rivalry” was always going to be a spicy affair, and a tough test for the struggling Victory, but the Big V started well, Callum McManaman and Robbie Kruse causing the Reds problems early on. And it was the former West Brom man that helped the Vic find their winner, winning a free kick after being cut down while on the attack. Jake Brimmer stepped up and unleashed a ferocious strike that bounced in off the bottom of the crossbar.

The home side nearly grabbed a second moments later, Kruse cutting a pass through to Rudy Gestede as the Benin international rushed in on goal. The former Cardiff and Villa striker managed to get a shot away under pressure, but could only find the side netting.

The Blue and Navy were dominating the game throughout the first half, before Javi Lopez whipped a cross in to the Victory box. Broxham failed to clear the danger and Reds captain Stefan Mauk pounced, sending the ball in to the bottom corner for the equaliser.

Two pivotal substitutions in the 56th minute changed the game.

Melbourne withdrew Rudy Gestede who looked to be struggling with his knee, while Carl Veart introduced Kusini Yengi for the Reds.

The home side clearly missed the towering presence of the former Premier League man, and it took just five minutes for Adelaide to take the lead, Yengi tapping home a Craig Goodwin ball before running off to celebrate in front of the home supporters.

Victory captain Leigh Broxham clearly didn’t appreciate Yengi rubbing salt in the wounds, and brought the 22 year old down at the first opportunity, picking up a yellow for his efforts. This summed up the growing frustration amongst the Victory players, and this rash tackle will see the club stalwart miss the next clash through suspension.

Stefan Mauk capped off a brilliant comeback, combining with Yengi to grab his second in the 77th and sealing a fourth win on the bounce for the resurgent Reds.

Despite their decent start, Melbourne Victory’s nightmare start to the season continues, another defeat at the MARVEL Stadium leaving them rooted to the bottom of the ladder, four points behind the eleventh placed Newcastle Jets.

Sydney FC v Newcastle Jets

The Jets travelled down the coast to face the reigning champions, hoping they could put an end to their two game losing streak at the Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.

The home side were looking to build on last weeks win in a bid to kick-start their stuttering title defence, and started well, the speed of Kosta Barbarouses and Luka Ivanovic causing Newcastle problems early on.

But it was the Jets that struck first, Luka Pršo intercepting a poor pass from Sydney stopper Andrew Redmayne to curl a shot in to the bottom left for his first A-League goal.

Despite their goal coming in just the 21st minute, Newcastle seemed content to sit back and try to defend their narrow lead for the remainder of the game. The visitors kept Sydney quiet for the remainder of the half and seemed content to keep to their game plan in the second.

Sydney head coach Steve Corica introduced some fresh legs as the game approached the hour mark, bringing on Ninković, Bobô and Patrick Wood in a bid to swing momentum back in the Premiers favour.

Two substitutes combined to pull one back for Sydney, Wood playing Ninković through for the veteran X to slide one in to the bottom right hand corner.

Sydney continued to pile on the pressure and managed to find a winner from the unlikeliest of sources in the 80th minute, Alex Wilkinson bagging his first A-League goal in a decade! The defender got his head on the end of a fantastic in-swinging corner from Luke Brattan, nodding the ball down at the ground, only for it to bounce clear over the Newcastle ‘keeper and in to the roof of the net.

The Sky Blues will take a lot of confidence from their comeback, though Redmayne’s error will be a cause of concern. This is the third major gaffe the experienced goalkeeper has made this season. Luckily for him, his error didn’t prove too costly this week, but you have to wonder how long his starting spot will remain secure if he continues in his current form.

As it stands, back-to-back wins sees the Sky Blues leapfrog Macarthur and Adelaide in to third place on the ladder. The title race certainly looks to be heating up as we near the mid-way point of the season!

Melbourne City v Macarthur FC

What a start to MW12!

City were clearly still riding high after their huge Melbourne Derby win, and it showed in their performance today.

Melbourne City welcomed second placed Macarthur to AAMI Park and proceeded to blow the visitors away, their devastating front three combining to give City a three-goal cushion heading in to the break.

Macarthur had some chances early on, but it was Jamie Maclaren that drew first blood, rising high to nod home an Atkinson cross. The Socceroos striker was on the score sheet again two minutes later, putting away a low cross from Nabbout at the second time of asking. 

City’s in-form wingers combined for their side’s third, Nabbout drifting in to the middle of the park and releasing an perfect lofted through ball out to Craig Noone on the opposite flank. The former Cardiff City favourite carried the ball in to the box, cutting inside a scrambling Macarthur defender before firing his shot in to the opposite corner.

Ante Milijic introduced Lachlan Rose at the break to try and get his side firing, and the young forward looked lively in short bursts, but Macarthur looked fairly toothless in attack throughout the second half. They were a lot more solid defensively, but the Bulls looked so concerned about keeping City quiet that they were hesitant to commit players forward. When they did break, it was often just one player, and they would soon find themselves isolated.

City had chances to add to their three first half goals, and Maclaren was definitely hunting for his hat-trick, but Paddy Kisnorbo will be pleased with his team’s performance against strong opposition.

Complacency could quite easily have set in after such a monumental win, however, City came out firing on all cylinders, played some superb football to leapfrog Macarthur in to second place.

Their performances are reminiscent of their fellow Citizens, and they look like they are embarking on a Manchester City-esque charge for the top of the ladder.

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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