Melbourne City were the star performers of the weekend as three title contenders failed to win. Tom Stelzer reflects on the weekend gone...
Goalkeeper, Melbourne City
Despite the howler, it was a match-winning performance.
Defender, Perth Glory
A key attacking outlet and a brilliant tackle to deny Bruce Djite.
Defender, Brisbane Roar
Solid, helped keep a clean sheet
Defender, Wellington Phoenix
Very impressive on debut.
Midfielder, Sydney FC
A fairy-tale return.
Midfielder, Adelaide United
Pulled the strings and scored a splendid solo goal.
Midfielder, Melbourne City
Back in the team and back to his best.
Midfielder, Sydney FC
Ran rings around the Newcastle midfield.
Midfielder, Adelaide United
A strong performance capped with a deserved late goal.
Forward, Melbourne Victory
Instrumental to Victory’s comeback.
Forward, Melbourne City
His goals were the difference for City.
Striker, Melbourne City
Making a case for being the A-League’s greatest import.
Central Coast Mariners 3 Melbourne Victory 3
It was the quintessential game of two halves as Central Coast threw away a 3-0 lead to draw with Melbourne Victory. Not since Dickens wrote ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ have we had such dichotomy, with both sides scoring three unanswered goals either half.
The Mariners raced to a three-goal lead, thanks first to a Harry Ashcroft header, before Josh Bingham was played in to finish cleverly past Danny Vidocic. Mitch Austin looked to put the game beyond doubt in the 35th minute with a masterful counter-attacking goal.
But it was not meant to be as a freshly determined Victory, backed by a surprisingly vocal away crowd, soon set to work. They penned the Mariners back as they tried to craft a comeback goal from their territorial dominance. It came courtesy of a Besart Berisha penalty, after Ashcroft caught Kosta Barbarouses.
In the 66th minute, Archie Thompson pounced on a rebounded Barbarouses shot to put Victory back in contention. The Geelong crowd were made to wait for the equaliser, as Melbourne spurned a number of clear chances before Berisha glanced a header off Barbarouses’ headed cross in injury time.
It was an impressive fight back from the Victory who, on the balance of chances, perhaps should have won. For the Mariners, the impressiveness of the first half was matched only by the predictability of their capitulation in the second. It’s a draw against the reigning champions but three points they could ill-afford to relinquish.
Sydney FC 2 Newcastle Jets 0
The records kept tumbling for Newcastle as they went down 2-0 to Sydney Fc at ANZ Stadium.
The beleaguered Jets made it six games without a goal and 10 without a victory against a Sydney side that looked fairly comfortable after an early Filip Holosko goal. Milos Ninkovic brilliantly flicked the ball through to Holosko who kept his composure to hit it past Mark Birighitti.
The Jets, who showed all the attacking prowess of the Socceroos Legends a couple of days earlier, didn’t manage a shot on target and even had their record-breaking run of bad form upstaged by the return of Ali Abbas. The Iraqi made his first appearance in 14 months after a terrible knee injury and was lively attacking presence, capping his return with a coolly taken goal from a clever Matt Simon backheel.
Melbourne City 3 Western Sydney 2
Melbourne City snatched all three points from the Western Sydney Wanderers in an exciting match tinged by controversy.
It was a game packed with the kind of attacking prowess the Jets can only dream about, as City took the early lead from a sizzling Harry Novillo free kick. Bruno Fornaroli continued his sensational form, jinxing past the Wanderers defence and curling past the helpless Andrew Redmayne.
Western Sydney were gifted a way back into the match, first when Thomas Sorensen mishandled a Mitch Nichols strike before an Aaron Hughes deflection put The Wanderers level. They looked set to secure an unlikely comeback victory when a quickly taken free kick was converted by Mark Bridge. It was pulled back by referee Jarred Gillett, who had inadvertently pulled City defender Patrick Kisnorbo out of position after a brief talking-to.
If that wasn’t enough to provoke the ire of Wanderers fans, an 84th minute Novillo winner surely was. The Frenchman carved out a yard of space at the edge of the box to curl a low drive past Redmayne and put City three points off the top.
Perth Glory 1 Adelaide United 3
Adelaide continued their ascent up the A-League Mountain with a come-from-behind victory over Perth Glory.
Chris Harold headed the ball down onto the scalp of the unwitting Tarek Elrich and into the net. It then looked as if Perth had caught Jetitis, with Harold and Diego Castro spurning two absolute sitters in the first half. Sergio Cirio equalised for the Reds and defender Alex Grant was sent off to further rub salt in the wounds of the hosts.
Marcelo Carrusca capitalised early in the second with a balletic solo goal to put Adelaide ahead. Craig Goodwin guaranteed the points with an injury-time strike that caps off a stunning turn in fortunes for the Reds. They’ve moved from bottom of the table to sixth in a matter of weeks, the kind of climb that would do Messrs’ Hilary and Tenzing proud.
Wellington Phoenix 0 Brisbane Roar 0
Brisbane were held to a scoreless draw against Wellington in a match that offered little, besides a contentious decision, until the dying stages.
After a weekend of high-scoring A-League football, the most compelling this match had to offer was a moment of controversy, after the Roar were awarded a penalty only to see it revoked moments later. Andrew Durante handled the ball in the box, but saw the officials overturn their decision for a foul in the buildup.
That was unfortunately the extent of the excitement until the game came alive in second half injury time. Kwabena Appiah saw his shot blocked by Jade North and Glen Moss produced a nice save to deny Thomas Broich.