No international break in the A League so we get a chance to see some of the squad players get a game and a general levelling of the playing field potentially letting some of the strugglers get a result.
Western Sydney Wanderers are still playing catch up with their fixtures from their Asian Champions League exploits earlier in the season and so they came calling to Suncorp Stadium to play Brisbane Roar in midweek.
It was only three weeks ago that the Roar were on a five game unbeaten streak and looked odds on to be playing finals football at the close of the season however things have changed a little since then and Wanderers ran out deserved 4-1 winners.
Brisbane tried out a new look central defensive pairing and boy did they look makeshift, Wanderers nearly opened the scoring three times in the first fifteen minutes through Antony Golec, Nikita Rukavytsya and a double chance for Labinot Haliti and Kerem Bulut.
They made their richly deserved breakthrough in the twentieth minute with a goal of true simplicity, Romeo Castelen spread the ball wide left to Haliti he quickly played a low centre in to the edge of the box where Rukavytsya swept home first time to give Jamie Young no chance.
Four minutes later Bulut turned neatly and fired an effort in on Young who was happy to turn the ball away for a corner. Brisbane levelled in the forty first minute when Luke Brattans left sided corner swung into the six yard box, young Wanderers defender Jonathan Aspropotamitis turned the ball home under pressure from Shane Stefanutto.
Justice was done three minutes later when Haliti released Castelen free into the inside right channel, he turned the defence before squaring to Bulut to ram home from six yards. Wanderers extended their lead in the fifty eighth minute when Yojiro Takahagi made inroads into the heart of the Brisbane rearguard coming in from the right, he played a clever reverse ball to send Castelen free into the inside right channel and he gleefully smashed the ball into the roof of the net from eight yards.
Bulut put the icing on the cake for Wanderers in the eighty eighth minute when he was played in behind the Roar backline he calmly outpaced the chasing defenders before slotting in between Young and his near post from just eight yards. The result leaves Roar marooned in seventh while Wanderers climb above Jets on goal difference into ninth.
Melbourne Victory played host to Central Coast Mariners at Aami Park in front of eighteen thousand fans who saw Victory claim the points with a 2-1 win. Fahid Ben Khalfallah has been outstanding recently and started this game in the same vein, dribbling through four Mariners defenders before slamming into the side netting on eight minutes.
Mariners took a surprise lead in the twenty second minute, a neat interchange between Anthony Caceres and John Hutchinson saw the Mariners skipper get room down the left for a far post cross, Nick Fitzgeralds header was saved by Nathan Coe but Caceres reacted quickest to head the loose ball home. Victory weren’t at their best, maybe the five players lost to international duty had some influence on that but they managed to equalise in the fortieth minute through Brazillian playmaker Gui Finkler.
Archie Thompson won the ball off Fitzgerald wide left he quickly fed the ball in to Finkler just outside the box left of centre who curled the ball home past Liam Reddy with the skill that he is renowned for. Finkler wasn’t done there and produced something similar for the seventy seventh minute winner.
Archie Thompson was integral again when he turned to create space for a pass from his inside left berth, he found Jess Makarounas in a central position who laid a peach of a ball back to Finkler left of centre just inside the box, same result as he curled home from to the top corner.
The result leaves Victory in second place a point behind Phoenix with a game in hand and a meeting between the two scheduled for next Sunday. Mariners meanwhile look destined to play out the season with nothing but pride to play for.
Aami Park was pressed into action again the following evening when Melbourne City took on Brisbane Roar in a fixture that will go a long way to deciding which team will finish the season in the vital sixth place, City won 1-0 to firmly cement their place in that position.
The goal came in the first meaningful attack for City, Robert Koren crossed from the left to the penalty spot where the rangy Josh Kennedy climbed above Jade North to direct a header on goal, Jamie Young saved the effort but saw the loose ball fall to Jonatan Germano who rammed home from around a yard. James Brown wasted a presentable opportunity to extend the lead five minutes later but blasted his effort straight at Young.
Brandon Borrello has been shining for Roar recently and came close to equalising in the thirty ninth minute but found Tando Velaphi equal to the task when he turned his effort away for a corner. Germano blazed another effort over the bar in the sixty first minute but we were denied a spectacular equaliser for Roar by about a foot when North spotted Velaphi off his line and launched an effort from just inside the City half, with Velaphi back peddling the ball just cleared the bar. So City look odds on to finish in sixth and with it play finals football. Roar look like it will be seventh for them in a disappointing defence of their title.
Perth Glory took on Western Sydney Wanderers at Nib Stadium aiming for their first win in ten games to get their title challenge back on track, they narrowly claimed the spoils with a 3-2 victory but things could have gone either way.
Kerem Bulut had already squandered a good chance in the ninth minute before Wanderers did claim the lead, Iacopo La Rocca played a delightful thirty yard ball over the Glory backline to Romeo Castelen, the Dutchman controlled with his first touch and slotted home with his second.
Glory equalised in the fifty fifth minute, a left wing cross was mis-headed back toward his own goal by Yusuke Tanaka, Richard Garcia headed back across goal and Sidnei had the easiest of chances to nod home from practically under the bar. Bulut wasted another opportunity just a minute later when he hit the post after rounding Danny Vukovic and it cost his team dearly.
Twelve minutes later Scott Jamieson swung in a right sided corner, Rostyn Griffith rose highest and nodded past the flapping Ante Covic to put Glory ahead. Just four minutes later Wanderers were back on level terms, Chris Harold played a ball into midfield from the right back slot it was pounced upon by La Rocca who played a first time pass to Bulut on the edge of the box, this time the heavily inked striker made no mistake.
The story wasn’t over yet and three minutes from time right back Josh Risdon drove forward cut inside and forward toward the box before unleashing a lovely strike to the top corner from twenty two yards to win it for Glory. The result moves Glory into fourth and leaves Wanderers equal bottom with the Jets.
Wellington Phoenix moved back into their home at the Westpac Stadium to welcome Sydney FC, they might have wished they had stayed at the Hutt Recreation as Sydney ran out 3-0 winners after a strangely disjointed performance from the Nix.
Sydney took just nine minutes to open the scoring when a right wing corner fell to Jacques Faty at the far post who controlled before volleying past Glen Moss. On twenty eight minutes the Sky Blues added a second when a mishit effort from Chris Naumoff fell to Shane Smeltz ten yards out and unmarked, he controlled and rolled home amidst protests for offside.
Unfortunately for the Nix Smeltz was being played onside by the tardy work of the right back all the way across on the sideline. Twelve minutes later it was all over when another corner produced mayhem in the Nix backline, Seb Ryall stabbed toward goal and the attempted clearance by Manny Muscat deflected back into his own net.
Nix were without two of their strike force which obviously didn’t help their cause but the talismanic Roly Bonevacia was strangely subdued and well shackled by close attention from Sydney players. Both sides finished with ten men when first Albert Riera and then Shane Smeltz were shown the red card to dampen the game down, Wellington remain top of the tree while Sydney are in third.
Newcastle Jets hosted Adelaide Utd at Hunter Stadium to close out the weekend and the visitors not unexpectedly took the spoils with a 1-0 win. However the scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story and Jets will be kicking themselves, they might miss mind, for not getting something from this game. Enver Alivodic was first to trouble Eugene Galekovic in the Reds goal in the tenth minute.
Thirteen minutes later Dylan McGowan saved Galekovics clean sheet with a goal line clearance from Mitch Cooper after good work from Edson Montano and Alivodic had lain a chance on a plate for the striker. Five minutes later the home team were made to pay when the Reds hit the front through a distinctly Latin flavoured goal. Spaniard Isaias Sanchez lifted a ball over the Jets defence for countryman Sergio Cirio, his shot was saved by Ben Kennedy but the rebound fell kindly to Argentine playmaker Marcello Carrusca to caress home.
Before the half was up Cooper had another chance go begging when he volleyed straight at Galekovic from ten yards. Further chances came and went for the Jets through Ben Kantarovski and a remarkable miss by a trio of Jets players as the ball rolled across the six yard box resulted in Montano getting his studs on the ball but saw the ball hit the post and get cleared. So the Jets remain equal bottom and the Reds hold fifth.
What have we learned?
This weekend could go a long way to deciding who takes the crown this season. The top five teams are separated by just two points and with four of them playing each other and Perth taking on the Jets we may well see Glory go top again.
Next A League fixtures
Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners
Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne City
Sydney FC v Adelaide United
Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory
Newcastle Jets v Perth Glory