Sunday, September 5, 2010

Round 5

Performance of the round: Adelaide Utd
Heat will be on: Sydney FC
Bye: Gold Coast Utd

Central Coast Mariners 2 - 0 Melbourne Victory
Daniel McBreen's less than conventional celebration
Central Coast are the Melbourne's bogey team and the hoodoo continued as the boys from Gosford controlled the game, scoring in both halves to run out comfortable winners. Rostyn Griffiths kicked off proceedings by heading in a awkward free kick from the centre of the park. Victory marking was poor and again, Michael Petkovic was beaten in the air as eye brows will start to raise. Central Coast settled in and took control of the game, and while chances were few and far between, Victory never really challenged the Mariners goal. Another header, on the other side of the break, effectively sealed the encounter. The busy Matt Simon, who interestingly commits the most fouls yet also gains the most free kicks in the A-League, broke free on the wing to deliver a perfect cross to new Mariners striker Daniel McBreen. McBreen celebrated by tucking the ball under his guernsey, a belated shout-out to his wife who was about to go into labor before kick off. The win will give Graham Arnold's side a big confidence boost after their conservative start to the season.
Scorers: CCM (Griffiths 21', McBreen 50')  Crowd: 6,829 at Bluetongue Stadium.

Melbourne Heart 1 - 0 North Queensland Fury
The Heart registered their first ever win  but were less than convincing. In driving rain, the impressive Nick Kalmar again got his name on the score sheet in the 11th minute, and this would prove enough for the three points. Between scoring and half time, Heart coach John van't Schip felt his team put in "one of our worst performances." Although improving in the second half, it was the Fury who will be left ruing their chances as they enjoyed much of the build up play. However, they were unable to convert. John Aloisi was a late substitute for the Heart and came close to scoring in his first performance for the new franchise. One-on-one with Justin Pasfield, Aloisi chose to shoot on the outside of his preferred left boot, forcing a top save from the Fury number one. On a dour note, crowd numbers were again the talking point as the Heart could only draw a poultry 4000 spectators.
Scorers: Mel (Kalmar 11')  Crowd: 4,000 at AAMI Park.

Sydney FC 1 - 3 Adelaide United
Sergio van Dijk scores a free kick, one of his two for the night
The defending champions languish at the bottom of the ladder after another poor performance in round five. On the other end of the spectrum, Adelaide United's confidence would be sky high as they sit atop the A-League ladder. After the season from hell last year, United have seemed to gel under Dutchman Rini Coolen has taken over the reigns. Adelaide went into the break with a comfortable two nil lead after goals to Sergio van Dijk and Matthew Leckie. Van dijk had put a slightly deflected free kick past Liam Reddy while Leckie had latched onto a Paul Reid through ball to finish at break-neck speed. The second half saw much of the same as van Dijk completed his brace eight minutes after the break. The sky blue's Stephen Keller then responded shortly after with a sublime header, although this would prove to be merely a consolation. Questions will start to be asked of Vitezslav Lavicka's team as his team appear to be struggling without the likes of Simon Colosimo, John Aloisi and Clint Bolton.
Scorers: Adl (van Dijk 9', 53', Leckie 37') Syd (Keller 58')  Crowd: 7,557 at Sydney Football Stadium.

Newcastle Jets 0 - 0 Brisbane Roar
Newcastle have put a horror week behind them to grind out a nil-all draw with the Brisbane Roar, who have been impressive this far into the season. To make matters worse for the Jets, who's financial problems were laid bare during the week, Ruben Zadkovic was sent off with 10 minutes remaining. Neither team was able to assert their ascendancy on the game which was played in blustery conditions on a suspect pitch. Jets coach Branko Culina was pleased with result while Roar coach Ange Postecoglou summed up the match perfectly by saying "no (team) got a real flow at all." Interestingly, the Roar are yet to concede a single goal thus far this season. In saying this, they have only scored two themselves.
Crowd: 7,066 at Energy Australia Stadium.

Perth Glory 2 - 1 Wellington Phoenix
Perth's Australian and international marquee players, Mile Sterjovski and Robbie Fowler respectively, both scored to put Perth equal top of the A-League ladder. Sterjovski opened the scoring only five minutes in when a clever cut back gave him an easy finish. Fowler doubled the lead on the hour mark when Sterjovski's delicate lob from the left wing ensured Fowler could ease his header past Mark Paston. However, the Glory weren't spared any late scares after Ben Sigmund pegged a goal back with 20 minutes to go. If not for a brilliant save by the Glory's Tando Velaphi in the 82nd minute the game could have finished two-all.
Scorers: Per (Sterjovski 5', Fowler 61') Well (Sigmund 72')  Crowd: 10,844 at NIB Stadium.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Round 4

Brisbane Roar 1 - 0 Wellington Phoenix
In this highly entertaining game the Roar maintained their early season purple patch to run out victors over a resolute Wellington. Brisbane dominated most of the play in the first half but failed to turn possession into goals while the Phoenix, who were in the most part chasing shadows, did have some good chances as well. The second half was much of the same as Ange Postecoglou's side continued the pressure, but the Phoenix proved they were up to the challenge. That was, until the 73rd minute when former kiwi Costas Barbarouses finished what was the best team goal of the season so far. Wellington weren't done yet as man of the match Michael Theoklitos was called on to deny good chances to the Phoenix. Yet the Roar were able to hang on for a confidence boosting win.
Scorers: Bri (Barbarouses 73')  Crowd: 7,339 at Suncorp Stadium.

North Queensland Fury 2 - 3 Adelaide United
Adelaide came back from an early scare to win this tight fixture, although not without a late scare. After only seven minutes gone, Isaka Cernak rose above the reds defence to head home and take an early lead. However, a Marcos Flores stunner literally stunned the crowd at Dairy Farmer's after volleying with his back to goal. After the break it was all Adelaide as the Fury's Brett Studman slid in for an own goal just after the break. Six minutes later Daniel Mullen headed home another and Adelaide looked home and hosed. But an 86th minute strike by David Williams kept the home fans on the edge of their seat. It was not to be as United ran out deserved winners.
Scorers: NQF (Cernak 7', Williams 86')  Adl (Flores 22', Studman (og) 50', Mullen 56')  Crowd: 6, 130 at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

Sydney FC 1 - 1 Central Coast Mariners
Sydney are still winless in season 2010/11 as a contenious penalty given by veteren referee Matthew Breeze gave Central Coast a late equaliser. The sky blues were the dominate team in the first half and, if not for the woodwork would have been two nil up at the break. Two minutes after the interval Sydney equalised as a low, driven cross was fumbled by detutant Mariner's goalkeeper Matt Ryan as Sydney youngster Rhyan Grant was there for the follow up. Graham Arnold responded with a master stroke substitution, bringing on Argentinian no.10 Patricio Perez who made immediate impact. Perez gained a penalty from a suspected foul by Sydney's Liam Reddy although replays confirm Perez was hardly touched. Perez converted the ensuing penalty. To make matters worse for the sky blues, Reddy was given a straight red as Vitezslav Lavicka had to reshuffle his line up. Sydney looked flustered and were given four yellows in a 10 minute period but managed to hold on for a point.
Scorers: Sydney (Grant 47') CCM (Perez 73' pen)  Crowd: 10,147 at Sydney Football Stadium.

Gold Coast United 0 - 1 Melbourne Victory
Last season's revelation Robbie Kruse opened this year's account that would prove the difference in a game that was exciting on the pitch but dull in the stands. Gold Coast's decision to open only one side of the ground to cut security costs has dissillusioned many fans. On the pitch Victory broke the dead-lock as Kruse skipped around to keeper to finish what had started from a sublime pass by Carlos Hernandez.  Gold Coast then had some quality chances but failed to finish. The second half was business like by the Victory as they gained their first three points for the season. Miron Bleiberg admitted afterwards his inexperienced front line could not match it with Muscat and co. 'We struggled up front, yes we did,' he said, adding that 'their experience at the back was too much for our youth up front.'
Scorers: Mel (Kruse 20')  Crowd: 3,624 at Skilled Park.

Melbourne Heart 2 - 2 Perth Glory
After round four Melbourne Heart languish at the bottom of the Hyundai A-League ladder, although they would count themselves unlucky not to have come away with the win. Impressive dutch import Gerald Sibon got the Heart off to a perfect start when he converted a penalty inside the first 10 minutes. Perth then equalised from an unlucky own goal to Michael Marrone who has arguably been their best player thus far into the season. A superb finish by former Oakleigh Cannons midfielder Nick Kalmar gave the heart a handy one goal buffer just before the break. Heart were content to sit back and absorb much of the pressure the Glory put on them in the second half and, with Simon Colosimo and Clint Bolton leading the spine, were set to get their first ever win. That was, until Michael Baird's contender for the gold logie fooled first time referee Kurt Ams into pointing to the spot. Robbie Fowler cooly finished the subsequent spot kick and the spoils were again shared for Melbourne.
Scorers: Mel (Sibon 5', Kalmar 36') Per (Marrone (og) 19', Fowler 90' pen)  Crowd: 5,878 at AAMI Park.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Round 3

Thus far into the season, the three teams tipped to take the top positions on the ladder come season's end - Melbourne Victory, Sydney FC and Melbourne Heart - have failed to fire. In Round 3, this trend continued as the big guns couldn't seem to fire. Gold Coast had the bye this week.

Adelaide United 3 - 2 Melbourne Heart
The greasy pitch at Hindmarsh Stadium seemed to suit Adelaide's quick strike force of Matthew Leckie and Iain Ramsey, the latter of which was a late replacement for Sergio van Dijk. Leckie turned his Heart opponent within the first two minutes to calmly finish through the legs of Clint Bolton. The game then settled as both teams found their passing radars, without really penetrating the final thrid. Heart were rewarded just before half time as dutch import Rutger Worm's sublime header finished in the back of the net thanks to a whipping Dean Heffernan cross. Ramsey opened his account just after the break only for Babalj to slot home the equaliser. Michael Marrone continued to cause trouble for the Reds defence down the right hand side. Just as it looked like the spoils would be shared, a fair result considering the even contest, Ramsey played a clever one-two with Reds no.10 Marcos Flores and finished, again through the legs of Bolton.
Scorers: Adl (Leckie 2', Ramsey 52', 88') Melb (Worm 42', Babalj 74')  Crowd: 7,370 at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Perth Glory 1 - 0 Newcastle Jets
A goal to first half substitute Branko Jelic was enough to seal victory for Perth, who are now the form team of the competition. A Todd Howarth volley was parried by Jets keeper Ben Kennedy stright into the shoulder of Jelic, which then ricocheted into the net. The Glory striker was an early substitue for former socceroo Mile Sterjovski who had injured himself. The game itself was fairly lacklustre, with both coaches echoing those sentiments after the game. Jets coach Branko Culina felt only some of his players turned up to play, while Glory coach Dave Mitchell admitted 'we've not played the best today'.
Scorers: Per (Jelic 45')  Crowd: 12,031 at Members Equity Stadium

Brisbane Roar 1 - 0 Sydney FC
Another impressive performance by Ange Postecoglou's men who have been the surprise packet of the season thus far. If anything, the scoreline was flattering for the sky blues who were dominated in all aspects of the game, especially possession where the Roar led 60 per cent to 40. Brisbane skipper Matt McKay finished off a lovely passing sequence in the 53rd minute and this was enough to seal the three points. Sydney were playing without main men Alex Brosque and Mark Bridge but coach Vitezslav Lavicka did not search for excuses. 'The Roar played very well. Full credit to the home team, they created a lot of chances', he said.
Scorers: Bri (McKay 53')  Crowd: 10,339 at Suncorp Stadium.

Wellington Phoenix 2 - 0 Central Coast Mariners
The Caketin again played host to another Phoenix win, with the usual suspects chipping in for the victory. Manny Muscat kicked off proceedings with a clever build up and subsequent cut back that found Leo Bertos in point blank region. The Mariner's  one chance in the first half fell to last week's goal scorer Matt Simon who headed wide. Paul Ifill then sealed the game on the hour mark. On the outside of his left foot, Ifill sent the ball screeching past Jess Vanstrattan and ensured goal of the round honours.
Scorers: Well (Bertos 10', Ifill 61')  Crowd: 9,500 at Westpac Stadium.

Melbourne Victory 2 - 2 North Queensland Fury
By far and away the match of the round, North Queensland again showed fighting spirit to hold on for a valuable draw. They did it the hard way, with two straight red cards ensuring they finished the game with nine men. The Fury took the lead through Ugandan striker Eugene SSeppuya but suffered a costly one-two punch when Chris Grossman brought down Robbie Kruse in the box which not only gifted Victory a penalty, which Muscat converted, but also left them with 10 men after Grossman was sent off. The game was locked at one-all at half time, but it was after the break that the game really kicked into life. Melbourne were doing all the attcking and, after several penalty shouts were turned down, finally gained their second for the match when newly signed Welsh winger Geoff Kellaway was brought down just inside the area. Again, Muscat converted the ensuing penalty. However, in another twist, the referee awarded North Queensland a penalty 10 minutes from time after some seemingly harmless push and shove whilst waiting for a Fury corner. Former Sydney man Chris Payne stepped up to the plate and, like Muscat's first, slammed it down the middle to beat Petkovic. In amongst this, Akoto had been sent off for a push on Muscat and had to be restrained by his teammates and coach. Despite a flurry of corners and subsequent shots on goal, the Victory were unable to snatch the winner in the dying minutes.
Scorers: Melb (Muscat 30'p, 75'p)  NQF (Sseppuya 15', Payne 82')  Crowd: 13,318 at AAMI Park.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Round 2

Another exciting round with the third 3-all draw of the season as well as comprehensive performances by Perth Glory and North Queensland Fury. Queensland Roar had the bye for round 2:

Wellington Phoenix 3 - 3 Gold Coast United
The first game of the season from our friends across the ditch was eagerly anticipated, especially after the success of the All Whites at the world cup. However, the mood for the match was somewhat dampened due to the driving rain in Wellington before and during the match. From the beginning passing was difficult and players struggled to keep their feet. Nevertheless, the Phoenix got off to the perfect start as fan favourite Paul Ifill slotted home within six minutes.  New Zealand world cup hero Shane Smeltz then equalised for Gold Coast before Chris Greenacre took the lead back for the hosts just before the break. Greenacre completed his brace after half-time scoring an impressive volley. The match looked headed for a win for the hosts until Smeltz also scored his double 74 minutes in. Wellington looked keen to sit back and soak up the pressure and were on their way to their first win of the season until Gold Coast skipper Jason Culina's glancing header only minutes from time ensured the spoils would be shared. The Phoenix would be kicking themselves with their concentration lapses late in the game.
Scorers: Well (Ifill 6', Greenacre 37', 55') GCU (Smeltz 36', 74', Culina 87')  Crowd: 8,300 at Westpac Stadium.

Newcastle Jets 1 - 1 Melbourne Heart
Both teams were looking for their first win of the season and the match started in a lively manner as chances at goal were not taken by either side. Newcastle started to dominate the match and Heart continually gave the ball away in the centre of the park. This gave the Jets the opportunity to break and in turn, expose their opponents down the flanks. Their persistence paid off as Jeremy Brockie scored on the hour mark, cutting inside from the right wing after receiving a long, diagonal ball that cut the Heart defence in two. Newcastle were well on their way to the three points and continued to create chances. That was, until a hopeful long ball from Melbourne fell at the feet of Jets youngster Ben Kantarovski who coolly chipped the keeper, except it was into his own net. Thus, Heart's first ever A-League goal was an own goal. The final whistle saw the game tied at one-all and the Branko Culina's side could certainly count themselves unlucky to not have walked away with a win.
Scorers: New (Brockie 60') Melb Ht (Kantarovski own-goal 79')  Crowd: 8,735 at Energy Australia Stadium.

North Queensland Fury 2 - 1 Sydney FC
This game was by far the upset of the round as North Queensland snatched a late winner. Much has been made of the Fury's instability off the pitch but this performance against the reigning champs will silence critics. Former sky-blue Chris Payne caused troubles all day and after turning Stephan Keller inside out on the byline, set up Chris Grossman for the opener. Scott Jamieson headed home the equaliser 10 minutes from time yet within two minutes of that goal, Fury striker Dyron Daal finished off a neat one-two to seal the game.
Scorers: NQ (Grossman 64', Daal 83') Syd (Jamieson 82') Crowd: 5,177 at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

Melbourne Victory 0- 2 Perth Glory
Perth Glory clinched their first ever A-League win in Melbourne after eight attempts. While displaying clear dominance in terms of possession, Ernie Merrick lamented the lack of fire power and creativity in the final third. In the game itself Robbie Fowler's whipping corner kick in the 23rd minute was put in by veteran Jamie Harnwell whose nous for goal ensured he got the final touch. Perth seemed relatively comfortable throughout the match and came out firing in the second half. This attacking intent paid off as former Socceroo Mile Sterjovski latched on to the ball in the box to finish on his left foot. Besides long range efforts from Hernandez and Ferreira, Glory's gloveman Tando Velaphi was hardly worried in the second half.
Scorers: Per (Harnwell 23', Sterjovski 49')  Crowd: 20,358 at AAMI Park.

Central Coast Mariners 1 - 1 Adelaide United
A late goal by Mariners talisman Matt Simon made sure Graham Arnold's team didn't walk away empty handed at Blue Tongue Stadium. The first half saw neither side assert their authority on the game and looked to be headed to nil-all at the break. However a Lucas Pantelis free kick found united defender Iain Fyfe free on the front post as his deft touch left new Mariners goalie Jess Vanstrattan with no chance. Central Coast came out the more lively of the two after half-time and continued to press for the equaliser. That finally came when, four minutes from time, Simon was free on the back post and slotted his 19th Hyundai A-League goal.
Scorers: Adl (Fyfe 45+2') CCM (Simon 86')  Crowd: 8,447 at Blue Tongue Stadium.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Round 1

The kick off to the 2010/11 Hyundai A-league season saw some promising crowds and a good standard of football. While only one team out of 10 walked away with the three points, two six-goal thrillers ensured it was anything but a dire round. The introduction of an 11th team (Melb Heart) ensures one team will have a bye each week. This week Wellington Phoenix sat out. Here are the results:

Melbourne Heart 0 - 1 Central Coast Mariners
The heavily awaited arrival of the new Melbourne franchise had finally come and foundation coach John van't Schip admitted the players were feeling anxious in the week leading up to the game at AAMI Park. For Central Coast it was Graham Arnold's first game in charge and marked his return to club football. The game itself saw both sides start in a circumspect manner. In the 16th minute, mariners defender Alex Wilkinson headed a deep, outswinging corner into the bottom corner of Clint Bolton's goal. The Mariners then started to look all the more comfortable as they effectively stopped of the presence of Heart's marquee signing Josip Skoko in the middle of the park. The second half saw neither side assert their authority on the match as the match finished 1-nil to the boys from Gosford. Brazilian signing Alex Terra was promising for the Heart and van't Schip's side will be happy the first game is out of the way.
Scorers: CCM (Alex Wilkinson 16')  Crowd: 11,050 at AAMI Park.

Adelaide United 0 - 0 Newcastle Jets
A relatively dour affair in dutchman Rini Coolen's first game in charge of the Reds. Having had limited time to prepare his side, Coolen was also missing captain Travis Dodd, fellow midfielder Fabian Barbiero and striker Lloyd Owusu. In addition, creative no. 10 Marcos Flores pulled up sore from training, forcing stand in skipper Lucas Pantelis to fill his role. The visitors started the more brightly and created some chances, although none clear cut. The game started to get heated as yellow cards were dished out before the break. The second half saw both team's defences looking comfortable and aside from Daniel Mullen's disallowed goal in the 68th minute, the match finished as a stalemate.
Crowd: 8,479 at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Perth Glory 3 - 3 North Queensland Fury
Perth fans packed out their home ground for the first time in the A-League as many came excited at the prospect of Robbie Fowler lining up in the Perth colours. Fowler's former club North Queensland have endured a tumultuous break off the pitch as Fowler, coach Ian Ferguson as well as half the playing roster walked out on the financially ridden club. Ferguson himself has joined Fowler as an assistant coach with the Glory. The Fury are now surviving only with help of the FFA. In the game itself the home team hit the lead five minutes in. The Fury reponded with an equaliser 10 minutes before the break and then took the lead in the 64th minute. In a change of fortune the Glory then scored two goals in the space of six minutes and look set to take the three points. That was until the 91st minute when Chris Grossman headed home a Fury free-kick, sparking wild celebrations and ensuring the spoils would be shared.
Scorers: PG (Jelic 5', Neville 73', Sterjovski 79')  NQF (Payne 35', Williams 64', Grossman 90+1')  Crowd: 16,019 at NIB Stadium.

Sydney FC 3 - 3 Melbourne Victory
The grand final replay failed to dissapoint as the spoils were shared in another epic encounter between the A-League's two most successful clubs. Victory started out behind the eight-ball as Thompson and Kruse's absence meant a distinct lack of fire power up front. Yet Victory's young brigade, namely former Melbourne Knights player Mate Dugandzic, stepped up and showed experience beyond their years. Title holders Sydney started the better of the two and by the 53rd minute had a 2-nil buffer over their rivals. Yet an amazing 10 minute spell saw the victory snatched three goals to take a 3-2 lead. However, a well worked Shannon Cole free kick with five minutes to go ensure the match finished a deserved 3-3 draw. The match leaves fans excited at the prospect of several more encounters during the season. On a more dour note, the crowd of 12,106 left a lot to be desired.
Scorers: SFC (Brosque 36', McFlynn 53', Cole 85') MVFC (Broxham 66', Dugandzic 68', Celeski 73') Crowd: 12,106 at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Gold Coast United 0 - 0 Brisbane Roar
The final match of the round was the Queensland derby. Ange Postecoglou's side arguably had the better of the game, especially the first 45, and were unlucky to not take the three points. In saying this, both keepers, Glen Moss and Michael Theoklitos, were kept very busy throughout the match and the former victory shot stoppers were probably the best for their respective sides. The Roar's dominant display gives hope to their fans, who of late have had to be patient to say the least.
Crowd: 6,394 at Skilled Park.

Starting out...

I'm a journalism student and a self prescribed football nut. I wanted to create a blog dedicated to the wrapping up the weekend Australian football (yes, not soccer) action. It may suit those whose raging social lives got in the way of their football appetite OR those who have had enough of 'Fox Sports' coverage, especially Robbie and Boza taking the piss out of each other at any given time. Whatever the case, if you want a brief report of the weekend's games and results, this is the place to be.