Culina shines as Gold Coast show Heart

by Neil Sherwin

A Jason Culina inspired Gold Coast United bounced back from a midweek defeat to the North Queensland Fury with an excellent 3-0 win over the Melbourne Heart in front of a crowd of just 1658. The game was played in difficult conditions with the pitch at Skilled Park having seen better days, and rain falling heavily throughout. It took until the 40th minute for the first goal and it went to the Gold Coast when midfielder Bas van den Brink rose highest to power a Culina corner past Clint Bolton. Gold Coast were given a great opportunity to double their lead after 57 minutes when referee Jarrad Gillett awarded them a penalty for a foul by Michael Beauchamp on Bruce Djite, and Culina, made no mistake from 12 yards. Melbourne tried to get back into the game with John Aloisi squandering a couple of good chances before Culina made the game safe for Gold Coast, converting Djite’s low right wing cross with ease.

The weekend’s most exciting and controversial game came was played on Saturday between Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park. The sides shared the points as well as six goals, though Brisbane can thank some questionable officiating for Matt McKay’s late equaliser. With his side behind, Roar keeper Michael Theoklitos clearly picked up the ball outside his penalty area before launching a punt forward that fell to McKay and he scored at the second attempt. However neither the referee nor his assistant, who was on that side of the field, saw the handball and the goal stood. The Victory were understandable furious at the full time whistle as they had come from two goals down at half time. An own goal by Matthew Kemp and a Juan Carlos Solorzano strike put the league leaders in what looked like a comfortable position but a brace from Robbie Kruse and a header by Archie Thompson had Melbourne on the edge of victory until McKay struck.

It was an absolute rout at Bluetongue Stadium as the Central Coast Mariners stuck four past Sydney FC without reply. Adam Kwasnik, who was only in the team thanks to Daniel McBreen’s suspension, struck after just 40 seconds as the home side came out firsing on all cylinders. Indeed, it took just four more minutes for them to double the lead when Matt Simon struck and the game was efectively over as a contest when Kwasnik netted his second on 23 minutes. The Mariners fourth came just thirty seconds into the second half when Sebastien Ryall put through his own net to sum up a miserable evening for the New South Wales side.

Wellington Phoenix came from behind to snatch a last gasp 2-1 win over high flying Adelaide United in front of a bumper crowd in Christchurch. Sergio Van Dijk gave the visitors the perfect start when he netted a fine header on 14 minutes and they maintained that lead until half time. However, just a minute aftert the restart, the home side drew level when Ben Sigmund’s right wing cross was stabbed home by Tim Brown. Adelaide skipper Travis Dodd then saw red for what looked like minimal contact on Vince Lia meaning his side were left shorthanded for the final stages. They almost held out for a point but were finally undone when Sigmund rose highest to convert Marco Rojas’ corner.

Two late goals by Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Sasho Petrovski helped the Newcastle Jets overcome the North Queensland Fury in a tricky away fixture. Despite being second best for most of the game, the Jets staged a perfect smash and grab and are now unbeaten in their last five games. Topor-Stanley’s opening goal arrived after 78 minutes as he connected with Kasey Wehrman’s corner to head past Justin Pasfield. Substitute Sasho Petrovski then added a second in injury time to seal the Jets’ first away win of what has been a difficult campaign for Branko Culina’s men.

Round 18

Friday, 10 December 2010

Adelaide United v North Queensland Fury

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Melbourne Heart v Melbourne Victory

Gold Coast United v Wellington Phoenix

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar

Perth Glory v Central Coast Mariners

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Newcastle Jets v Gold Coast United

North Queensland Fury v Sydney FC

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