Practically every team gets a jersey in this festive season first XI (with three notable exceptions). With 16 goals over three days it was high octane action with a few Christmas crackers thrown in. Most of the teams have wrapped up 2015 – Central Coast and Wellington Phoenix play on New Year’s Eve – so how did they fare? Tom Stelzer gives his take on the end of year round.
Goalkeeper, Brisbane Roar
A couple of shaky moments but a great performance overall.
Defender, Perth Glory
A captain’s performance in defence.
Defender, Melbourne Victory
An assured performance from the 18-year-old.
Defender, Western Sydney Wanderers
Scored the first and was solid defensively.
Defender, Adelaide United
Made six tackles and contributed at both ends.
Midfielder, Sydney FC
Quickly becoming a driving force in Sydney’s midfield.
Midfielder, Melbourne Victory
Provided energy and drive in a wasteful Victory performance.
Midfielder, Sydney FC
Another lively and incisive start from the winger.
Midfielder, Brisbane Roar
Masterful again in Brisbane’s midfield.
Forward, Adelaide United
Had a hand in all three goals, scoring the second, and impressed throughout.
Striker, Melbourne City
Became the fastest player to reach 10 A-League goals.
Western Sydney Wanderers 2 Newcastle Jets 0
It was a round packed with more surprises than the office Secret Santa as a raft of penalties, own goals and red cards sent 2015 out in style. The end-of-year festivities kicked off in Western Sydney after a routine win over the Newcastle Jets at Pirtek Stadium.
There were no Christmas gifts for the Jets, who were denied a penalty after Scott Neville looked to have handled the ball from a Newcastle corner, before Milos Trifunovic was perhaps wrongly adjudged offside.
Alberto broke the deadlock for the Wanderers just before halftime, heading past Mark Birighitti, who uncharacteristically let the ball slip through his hands and into the net. Mark Bridge doubled the lead in the 70th minute, showing composure to put away Dario Vidosic’s saved shot.
It was another fruitless performance from the Jets, whose New Year’s Resolution must surely now be to score a goal after a fourth straight scoreless outing that means the Wanderers will end the year on top of the table.
Adelaide United 3 Wellington Phoenix 0
Wellington shot themselves in the foot with a number of glaring errors to give Adelaide a valuable win at Coopers Stadium.
A misfiring Manny Muscat sliced the ball into his own net before Albert Riera was dismissed in the 56th minute after a sliding challenge on James Jeggo earnt him a second yellow. Glen Moss, no doubt nursing a big Christmas hangover, compounded Wellington’s misery when he let the ball slip through his grasp from a tame Craig Goodwin shot.
It took a belated Christmas miracle to put the game beyond doubt when Michael Marrone scored his first A-League goal in 131 matches after Goodwin hit the post. The Phoenix may well feel aggrieved over a number of refereeing decisions that went against them but they only had themselves to blame.
Sydney FC 4 Central Coast Mariners 1
Graham Arnold got what he wanted from Santa as his Sydney side put in an impressive attacking performance against a poor Central Coast. After a series of tepid performances, the hosts were convincing winners against the league’s bottom team to keep them in touching distance of their crosstown rivals.
Alex Brosque departed injured after 26 minutes, but not before he had put the hosts in the driver’s seat, scoring first from a parried Andrew Hoole shot before converting a penalty for a foul on Milos Ninkovic.
Mariners goalkeeper Paul Izzo was booked for dissent before receiving a second yellow after tripping George Blackwood in the box to gift Sydney a second penalty and himself a chance to make the Boxing Day sales. Tom Heward-Belle replaced Izzo but was unable to keep out Mickael Tavares’ resultant spot-kick.
Harry Ashcroft headed home to give the Mariners an outside chance but it was not to be, as Jake McGling diverted a Ryan Grant cross into the wrong goal to ensure Sydney returned to winning ways.
Melbourne Victory 1 Perth Glory 1
Melbourne Victory put an end to a four-match losing streak but were unable to make the most of a controlling performance at home to Perth Glory.
Victory’s opener came via the penalty spot after Besart Berisha went down easier than the West Indies cricket team after the slightest contact from Ante Covic. The Albanian made sure from the spot and it was enough to give Victory a slender halftime lead.
Fahid Ben Khalfallah should have made it 2-0, but stuffed his chance like a Christmas turkey when he ballooned over from right in front. Mathieu Delpierre tripped Josh Risdon with all the subtlety of a Christmas cracker joke to allow Diego Castro to convert from the spot and give Perth a first away point of the season. It was a frustrating afternoon for the Victory and leaves them well off the title pace.
Brisbane Roar 3 Melbourne City 1
It took a commanding Brisbane performance to put Melbourne City in their place despite a spirited response from the visitors.
A Patrick Kisnorbo own goal gave Brisbane the lead after 31 minutes before Brandon Borello cleverly found space in the City box and such his shot past Thomas Sorensen.
A route one attack put Bruno Fornaroli in to dance past Jamie Young and put City back in the game. The visitors pressed for an equaliser and looked the better side until Brisbane were able to reassert their early dominance in the later stages.
In a round that had a bit of everything apart from a bit of on-field fracas, this game delivered on that front with a pantomime altercation that saw 4 players yellow-carded before Ivan Franjic caught Thomas Broich with a coat-hanger worthy of the WWE.
Brisbane had a number of late chances but couldn’t find the back of the net until Henrique scored sensationally from the halfway line after Sorensen had pushed up for a City corner.