Round 17 of the Hyundai A-League saw some key fixtures with significance for both ends of the ladder. High-flying Western Sydney Wanderers played host to 2nd placed, Melbourne City at “Wanderland”, while there was also a bottom of the table encounter across the Tasman. The Garden City, Christchurch, played host to the Wellington Phoenix as they welcomed 10th placed, Central Coast Mariners, at AMI Stadium. Elsewhere, 5th met 3rd at the Allianz Stadium as Sydney FC hosted the off-form Brisbane Roar. Newcastle Jets travelled to the City of Churches to play Adelaide United, and Perth Glory took on Melbourne Victory at NIB Stadium in the west.
Wellington Phoenix 1
Central Coast Mariners 3
Garcia (50), Roux (53), Austin (85)
Att: 8,545 Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Phoenix: Moss (C) – Fenton, Fox, Muscat, Doyle – Riera, Bonevacia, Rodriguez (Appiah-Kubi 69) – Stevens (McGarry 77), Powell, McGlinchey. Subs not used: Danaskos, Italiano (GK).
Mariners: Izzo – Roux, Poscoliero (McDonald 79), McGing, J. Rose – L. Rose, Neill, Stella (Garcia 46), Ferreira, Austin – Bingham (Fletcher 83). Subs not used: Buhagiar, Heward-Belle (GK).
The Wellington Phoenix are in trouble. The New Zealander’s were without a win in 7 games coming into this one as they welcomed basement club, Central Coast Mariners, to AMI Stadium in Christchurch. The Nix tend to travel quite well when they play “home” games away from New Zealand’s capital. Only once had they lost (in Palmerston North) prior to this game. However, they were always going to be up against it as a side that has found the net on just 5 occasions in the said 7 previous games. Indeed, you had to go back to Saturday 5th December and a 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory for the side’s last 3 points.
To add to the Nix’s problems for this Round 17 clash, they were without their skipper, Andrew Durante, who was suspended. Glen Moss stepped up to take the captain’s armband and Manny Muscat was partnered in the middle of defence by Dylan Fox. Meanwhile, the Mariners again left their new marquee signing, Luis Garcia, on the bench after he made his debut from the same position last weekend in the defeat by Western Sydney Wanderers.
Despite, the gloom around the club, it was the Nix who started better in this game. And in the 10th minute a stinging volley from Roly Bonevacia was well saved by Mariners stopper, Paul Izzo, to keep parity in what was probably the best chance of the half. While Mitch Austin was finding some joy down the left-hand side in particular for the Mariners, there wasn’t too much to trouble the Phoenix’s stand-in skipper, Glen Moss.
After half-time, the game came alive. On came former Spain and Liverpool winger, Garcia, and his footprint on the outcome was instant. On 50 minutes the Spaniard opened his goalscoring account by pouncing on a spilled ball from a Fabio Ferreira cross. Moss failed to keep a hold of a routine low ball in and Garcia was on hand to back heel the ball into the net and give the Mariners the lead.
Just 3 minutes later, and Garcia had a hand in the Mariners’ second goal. A neat interchange with the buccaneering Storm Roux on the edge of the box saw the South Africa-born All White race into the box, leaving Manny Muscat for dead, before a deft chip over the top of the diving Glen Moss nestled in the back of the net.
The double goal action stung the Phoenix into action and, after a chance from Powell was saved by Izzo, the stopper was again called into action on 59 minutes when he acrobatically rose to tip a header by Tom Doyle, over the bar and preserve the Mariners’ two-goal advantage.
On 86 minutes, the Mariners wrapped up the points as a superbly weighted ball from Garcia pierced the Phoenix backline. Fabio Ferreira, who was in an offside position, made an attempt to reach the ball before stopping, but Mitch Austin continued his run from an onside position and, just prior to reach the byline, managed to angle his effort low and past the hapless Moss to make it 0-3. The Phoenix defence did, justifiably, question the absence of an offside flag from the linesman, but the goal stood.
By this point, a few boos could be heard emanating from the Phoenix supporters but they did at least have something to cheer in stoppage time when a Tom Doyle cross picked out Blake Powell in the box and, although the striker didn’t catch the ball cleanly, he did enough to guide it past Izzo to give the Kiwi’s a consolation.
Another downer for the Phoenix was that the club had been anticipating a five-figure crowd but was ultimately unable to draw more close to 9,000. No doubt this will give yet more ammunition to the sceptical FFA who are rumoured to be reluctant to give the Wellington side longer than a four-year license extension.
And so it looks increasingly difficult to see where the goals will come from for the Nix. With Roy Krishna injured and only youngsters to fall back on, is already game over for the current campaign? Jeffrey Sarpong has now been released by the club and has returned to the Netherlands to carry on his career. The Ghanaian-Dutch wide man never really seemed to acclimatise to the A-League and his departure will free up a visa spot and some much-needed room on the wage budget as the Nix look to go back to the drawing board.
FFV Man of the Match: Luis Garcia
Other Round 17 A-League Results:
Friday 29th January
Western Sydney Wanderers 4
Nichols (32), Bridge (60, 66), Santalab (89)
Melbourne City 3
Novillo (76), Fornaroli (78), Paartalu (93)
Att: 14,820 Venue: Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta
Wanderers: Redmayne – Neville, Alberto, Topor-Stanley (C), Jamieson – Andreu (Baccus 71), Dimas, Vidosic (Santalab 80) – Nichols, Sotirio (Castelen 74), Bridge. Subs not used: Pepper, Reddy (GK).
City: Sorensen – Kisnorbo (C) (Clisby 4), Malik, Melling, Zullo (Garuccio 69), Franjic (Retre 69) – Paartalu, Caceres, Mooy – Novillo, Fornaroli. Subs not used: Fitzgerald, Bouzanis (GK).
FFV Man of the Match: Mark Bridge (WS)
A superb advert for the A-League, this game. End-to-end action with two in-form sides. Wanderers deservedly took the points to open up a temporary gap of 5 points at the top of the ladder.
Saturday 30th January
Sydney FC 1
Corona OG (52)
Brisbane Road 3
Maclaren (8, 76), McKay (67)
Att: 12,548 Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Sydney: Janjetovic – Grant, Faty, Jurman, Gersbach – O’Neill (Dimitrijevic 70), Tavares, Holosko, Hoole (Abbas 60) – Ninkovic (C), Blackwood (Smeltz 70). Subs not used: Ryall, Necevski (GK).
Roar: Theo – North, Brown, Donachie, Hingert – Corona, McKay (C), Petratos – Borrello (Henrique 58), Broich (Hervas 86), Maclaren (Lustica 77). Subs not used: Bowles, Young (GK)
FFV Man of the Match: Jamie Maclaren (BR)
The Roar get back to their best in the torrential rain after two consecutive heavy defeats. Sydney continue to stutter and are punished for casual defending. After the game, it was announced Alex Gersbach has signed to join an unnamed club in Europe.
Saturday 30th January
Perth Glory 3
Keogh (27), Castro (29, 82 pen)
Melbourne Victory 2
Berisha (58, 69)
Ben Khalfallah (56)
Att: 10,501 Venue: NIB Stadium, Perth
Glory: Covic – Grant, Warren, Lowry, Risdon (C) – Sandor, Ferreira (Oxborrow 77), Marinkovic (Garcia 90)- Castro, Harold (Reiners 76), Keogh. Subs not used: Williams, Tyson (GK).
Victory: Vukovic – Geria, Georgievski, Delpierre, Deng (Ansell 72) – Broxham (C) (Mahazi 83), Finkler (Thompson 67), Bozanic – Ben Khalfallah, Barbarouses, Berisha. Subs not used: Makarounas, Thomas (GK).
FFV Man of the Match: Diego Castro (PG)
A hard-fought victory for the Glory who saw a 2-0 lead disappear in the second half. The first game at the NIB Stadium this season to reach five figures, giving yet more positive news to owner, Tony Sage, and his club. Another good performance from Besart Berisha for the Victory but this result leaves them in 4th place and still trailing cross-town rivals, City, by a point.
Sunday 31st January
Adelaide United 1
Newcastle Jets 0
Att: 12,434 Venue: Coopers Stadium, Adelaide
United: Galekovic (C) – La Rocca, McGowan, Elsey (Marrone 78), Elrich – Carrusca, Isaias, Mells (Mauk 89) – Sanchez (Cirio 60), Goodwin, Djite. Subs not used: Dugandzic, Hall (GK).
Jets: Birighitti – Mullen, Hoffman, Jackson, Cowburn – Watson (Ugarkovic 65), Poljak (C), Alivodic, Kitto (Cooper 80), Leonardo (Nordstrand 73) – Trifunovic. Subs not used: Crowley, Kennedy (GK)
FFV Man of the Match: A tough call?
And so the Adelaide bandwagon rolls on as the Reds are now just 1 point behind 5th placed Sydney FC. The Jets missed the presence of both Boogaard and Carney and the latter is being strongly linked with a move to Sydney FC in the near future. Some way to go for Scott Miller’s men although a positive was the debut of Danish striker, Morten Nordstrand, from the bench.