Adelaide United v Sydney FC
One-nil wins are not the most common of sites in the A-League this season, but we got two back to back on Sunday as Adelaide continued their fantastic run with a narrow win over the reigning Premiers at Coopers Stadium.
Sydney had plenty of chances, but yet again, failed to take their opportunities. Kosta Barbarouses returned to line up following the birth of his baby daughter last week and was the Sky Blues biggest goal threat, but young goalkeeper Joe Gauci ensured the New Zealand international’s six-week goal drought continues.
For the third time in as many weeks, 22 year old Kusini Yengi played a key role in an Adelaide victory, winning a penalty for the Reds when he was brought down by Luke Brattan in the 76th minute. Craig Goodwin stepped up to the spot, staring down Andrew Redmayne before slotting a low, hard shot in to the right hand corner as the Sydney ‘stopper went the other way.
But it was the 20 year old Gauci, who has filled in during the absence of James Delianov, that won Adelaide the game. The youngster made a number of key saves throughout, including a remarkable reaction save at the death to deny Patrick Wood an 89th minute equaliser, earning Adelaide their sixth win in a row.
Wellington Phoenix v Macarthur FC
The Bulls made it two wins on the bounce, grabbing the only goal of the game on their trip to Wollongong.
This was the third game in seven days in a congested fixture list for the ‘Nix, and it showed in their performance. At their best, they have been a thrilling counter attacking side, but they looked a little cagey and fatigued, unable to break down a Macarthur side that was more than content to keep the ball.
The return of Steven Taylor looked to have brought a bit of steel and determination to a young Wellington back line last week, so to lose him within the first ten minutes would have been a blow, thought Josh Laws deputised admirably. Speaking after the game, head coach Ufuk Taulay told the press that the former Newcastle centre half felt a twinge in his quad, so the substitution was more precautionary than anything, and they hope he will be available for their MW15 clash with Melbourne City.
Both sides had a number of close efforts and half chances until Macarthur finally broke the deadlock after 65 minutes. Wellington defender Tim Payne nearly deflected an Ivan Franjic cross in to his own net, forcing Oli Sail to make a diving save to prevent an own goal. Sadly, his excellent save spilled in to the path of Denis Genreau, who slammed it in from close range.
Ben Waine was a constant threat in the second half for the ‘Nix, causing problems for Macarthur out on the right, but none of his team mates were able to capitalise on his efforts, Macarthur heading back to Campbelltown with the three points.
Perth Glory v Newcastle Jets
Perth were winless in five heading in to this clash, and desperately needed to pick up the three points if they were to hope of making the most of their games in hand.
The Glory got off to an excellent start, Ciaran Bramwell capping off an excellent passing play by scoring his first A-League goal just 17 minutes in. Within ten minutes they had doubled their lead, a Neil Kilkenny corner finding an unmarked Darryl Lachman, who headed easily home.
It looked like it could be a painful night for Newcastle, but they were handed a lifeline after 35 minutes, Jonathan Asproprotamitis earning a second yellow and receiving his marching orders for tripping a returning Ramy Najjarine, who nearly pulled one back from the resulting free kick.
It took until just before the hour mark for the Jets to make the most of their man advantage, but they did so in some style. With Perth sitting back in defence, Nikolai Topor-Stanley found himself with the time and space to deliver a sublime cross in to the box, finding Roy O’Donovan who, with his back to goal, glanced the ball off the outside of his boot to send it looping back over Liam Reddy and in to the bottom corner. The Irishman had been on a run of seven games without a goal, and will have been over the moon to break his drought with such an exquisite effort. Definitely one for the highlight reels.
Both sides had a number of chances throughout the second half, including a 94th minute headed effort from Newcastle ‘keeper Lewis Italiano who headed up field for a corner at the death.
However, neither side would find the net again, 10 man Perth grinding out a result, getting them back to winning ways while condemning the Jets to a fifth straight defeat.
Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne Victory
It was top v bottom in Gosford on Saturday, but seemingly no one told the two teams on the park.
With Melbourne City, Western Sydney and Adelaide all rapidly making up ground, the Mariners were in need of a win to open up a bit of a gap at the top of the ladder, and would certainly have felt confident of doing so against bottom placed Victory.
But the Blue and Navy came out of the sheds all guns blazing, and thoroughly deserved to take the lead after twenty minutes. Catching the Mariners off guard, Brimmer delivered a fantastic cross-field free kick up to Callum McManaman, the former Premier League man beating two defenders to the ball before finishing past Mark Birighitti to give the strugglers the lead away from home.
Victory could only hold on to their lead for ten minutes, Daniel Bouman creating a bit of magic on the right wing before slotting the ball across to Marco Ureña, allowing the Costa Rican to slip the ball past Matt Acton to draw the league leaders level.
The goal seemed to bring the Coasties to life, and they kept the visitors on the back foot for the remainder of the half. Nigro and Bouman both had good chances to break through the defence, but the Victory held on.
The second half was frustrating for both sides.
The Mariners absolutely dominated the game in the second half, creating chance after chance, launching balls in the box in a bid to find a winner but failed to do so, despite the presence of Urena, Simon and later Kuol in and around the area. At times they seemed hesitant to commit to their attack, the fear of being hit on the counter by the speed of Kamsoba overriding their desire to grab a winning goal.
The Victory somehow managed to ride out the storm to earn a massive point, but saw both Adama Traore and Storm Roux forced off with injuries. The Victory have had a torrid time in that regard so far, and this will only add to their woes, despite the positive result.
Melbourne City v Western Sydney Wanderers
The sweet, sweet sound of drums and songs provided the soundtrack to kick off this week’s A-League action, with active support making their long overdue return to AAMI Park.
Melbourne City put on a dominant display for the first twenty minutes, keeping the Wanderers within their own half as Nabbout, Noone and Atkinson peppered the visitors box with shots crosses in a bid to find an opener.
City had a great chance to take the lead in the fifth minute, Curtis Good hammering a header off the crossbar, but it was the Wanderers who drew first blood.
To say their opener came against the run of play would be an understatement, Daniel Wilmering stealing the ball off Andrew Nabbout before feeding Mitch Duke who lofted a cross in at the back post. Bernie Ibini rose high above his defender, powering home a headed effort to put the Wanderers in the driving seat.
Having not conceded a goal in their previous four games, City looked shell shocked momentarily and almost allowed Ibini to grab a second headed goal within minutes of going behind.
City got themselves back in to the game under somewhat controversial circumstances, Craig Noone taking a free kick so quick the cameras weren’t even rolling. While broadcasters were showing viewers a replay, the English winger spotted Margush well of his line and caught Wanderers unawares, firing an incredible set piece in to the bottom corner for the equaliser.
Re-invigorated by the goal, City pushed for a second, but despite their best efforts and an astounding amount of corners, the scores remained level as the teams headed in to the sheds.
I don’t know what Paddy Kisnorbo said to his side during the break, but it clearly worked, as City found themselves 3 – 1 up within ten minutes of the second half commencing, Craig Noone and Andrew Nabbout combining for two goals within the three minutes.
Andrew Nabbout found himself of the end of a Craig Noone cross at the far post in the 52nd minute, bundling the ball in to the net off his chest. The winger will probably have wanted a more spectacular effort for his first City goal, but he’ll be glad to finally get off the starting line.
Nabbout repaid then repaid the favour, sliding a ball through for Noone who hammered a shot in to the roof of the net to bag his first brace in the league.
City looked to have gone three ahead two minutes later, Andrew Nabbout clattering in to Mark Natta before offloading to Noone, who this time fed Luna for City’s fourth. The Wanderers bench were outraged that play hadn’t been stopped for the foul on Natta, the young defender helped off the field after suffering a clear concussion. After a VAR review, the goal was rightly chalked off, but for offside, rather than the clear foul in the build up…
Luna was denied a fourth, but Jamie Maclaren would not be. It took the Socceroos striker until the 92nd minute to find the back of the net, but he pounced on a Margush clearance to score in his sixth consecutive game and secure a record sixth win on the bounce for City.
It doesn’t seem to matter who they come up against, Melbourne City just look on another level right now. Its one thing to put six goals past the worst team in the league, but City have now outclassed the Mariners, Macarthur and the Wanderers (twice) in recent weeks.
Another dominant performance sees City move up to second, within just a point of Central Coast, and they currently look absolutely unstoppable. With the way they are playing right now, it’s hard to see another team stopping City from marching all the way to the Premiership.