A-League records tumbled all over the nation last weekend and, as the dust settled on round two, here are five things we learned from another cracking instalment of Season 10.
1. Playing surfaces will always be an issue
Poor drainage, torn-up grass, uneven patches, terrible playing surface have all been major talking points before. Previous seasons have seen fans, managers and coaches of the A-League hit out at poor playing conditions. Having to share stadia with clubs from other codes is an issue.
Unfortunately, rain is a scarcity, so immaculate pitches are a rarity. However, it seems after the spoils were shared in the cross-border Adelaide United-Melbourne Victory fixture, another problem with pitches has been added to the never-ending list of complaints.
The pitch was “too fast” according to Kevin Muscat, who blamed the pitch’s carpet-like qualities for the stalemate. It seems pitch conditions will always be at the forefront of the blame games. A-League clubs 1-0 stadium grass.
2. Mariners lose out as McGlinchey has the last laugh
For the Central Coast Mariners, their worst nightmare became reality.
Following a soap-operatic transfer window in which the Mariners reluctantly allowed 27-year-old Kiwi sensation to leave Gosford for a return to New Zealand, a bitter round two confrontation was almost inevitable. The fact McGlinchey himself was seemingly thriving under Ernie Merrick’s system was also cause for concern.
Fittingly, their worst case scenario was realised when the Kiwi equalised in the 35th minute from a set piece to silence the Gosford crowd.
Phoenix, through Nathan Burns, struck once more in the second half for a narrow win, giving former Mariner McGlinchey the last laugh.
3. “Poor officiating...and goals cost games”
If you’re a Western Sydney Wanderers fan, Saturday evening’s derby was one to forget.
Sasa Ognenovski’s deflected goal, an off-side Bernie Ibini and Vitor Saba’s red card all helped Sydney FC take out the seventh instalment of the Sydney Derby.
Coach Tony Popovic cried foul in his post-match press conference, saying: “What really went wrong is we were dealt with some poor officiating. The second goal is not a goal, as simple as that…Goals change games, that’s the reality.”
Such factors, of course, played their part. But, as far as sayings go, the cliché “football is a game of two halves” could not be any more appropriate.
Their loss now means they have lost three consecutive A-League matches (Grand Final v Roar, Round One v Victory and now the Sydney Derby). With the Champions League Final coming up, it’s back to the drawing board for a team so used to success.
4. City’s creative conundrum
Two points, two games – not a bad start for John Van’t Schip’s Melbourne City. While seventh spot so early in the season is no cause for concern things could be better.
City’s 4-3-3 line-up with a midfield trio of Erik Paartalu, Aaron Mooy and Massimo Murdocca has seen the Blues dominate possession with relative ease.
Creating chances, though, is a worry, with City only managing to create two ‘big chances’, which suggests that not enough is being done to ensure that goal-scoring opportunities are at a premium.
Their lack of prolificacy in front of goal too is a worry, and with eight matches remaining on Villa’s contract, it’s hard to see City making the finals this season.
5. Perth Glory lead the way
The A-League currently finds itself in a rather interesting position. The two finalists of last season rest at the bottom of the table. Meanwhile, last season’s under-performers find themselves leading the A-League ladder, and they have a certain Irishman to thank.
Andy Keogh scored a hat-trick in Perth Glory’s 3-2 win over Brisbane Roar, culminating in a late-winner which sees them racking up two wins from two games.
They’ve already solved their striker problem - the 28-year-old, so far, has combined well upfront with Youssouf Hersi to wreak havoc – and it seems as though the Western Australians are finally starting to enjoy their football.
The same cannot be said for Brisbane Roar though who seem to be faltering under pressure to perform. A win at home on Friday night against Sydney FC is a must to stay in touch with the rest.