Five things we learned this week in the A-League

Western Sydney Wanderers have an Asian Champions League hangover

It as always going to be difficult for the Western Sydney Wanderers to get back into the swing of things in the A-League following their Asian Champions League triumph, and a trip to New Zealand probably wasn’t ideal straight off the bat.

Credit to the Wellington Phoenix though who were good value for their win in what was a largely dour contest.

 

Nathan Burns got the only goal of the game in the second half, and the margin could have been greater were it not for a horrendous Michael McGlinchey penalty that was saved by Ante Covic and a close range headed miss from Louis Fenton.

The Wanderers, last season’s regular season winner, remain rooted to the bottom of the table with just one point to their name so far, and things don’t get any easier as they head to Western Australia this coming weekend to play Perth Glory.

Goals are good but not always necessary

Adelaide United and Sydney FC couldn’t be separated in Friday’s second game, but they played out a thoroughly entertaining 0-0 draw at Coopers Stadium.

The Reds were excellent in the first half and really should have been a goal or two to the good as Sergio Cirio missed from close range and Marcelo Carrusca hit an upright.

Young winger Awer Mabil was also extremely wasteful in front of goal, and the failure to find the net almost cost Adelaide dearly as Sydney improved significantly after the half time break.

 

It wouldn’t be an A-League round without a refereeing controversy, and Alan Milliner duly obliged as he disallowed a goal for Sydney FC.

The Sky Blues were awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal which defender Nikola Petkovic took quickly and fired into the net past Eugene Galekovic.

However, Milliner ruled that the defender had not waited for his whistle, much to the annoyance of Sydney boss Graham Arnold afterwards.

The boys said that with Petkovic’s goal, he (the referee) pointed to halfway, he pointed for it to be a goal, and when the Adelaide players rushed to him, he changed his mind. That is what I have been told.

– Graham Arnold

United defender Nigel Boogard produced a superb clearance from just in front of his own goal line, heading Sebastian Ryall’s goal bound effort behind for a corner, while at the other end, Carrusca had a swing and miss with the goal at his mercy in the final minutes.

While the game ended in a stalemate, the 16,015 in attendance were thoroughly entertained by two of the league’s strongest sides.

The pitch at Hunter Stadium remains a big concern ahead of the Asian Cup

After being forced to play their first four games away from home, the Newcastle Jets finally returned to Hunter Stadium and hosted Melbourne Victory on a newly laid surface.

However, the pitch looked awful – patchy in parts and holding more sand than your average beach – and is a big worry just two months from the Asian Cup when it will host a semi-final and the third-fourth place playoff.

 

The game itself ended in a 2-2 draw, with the Jets squandering a two goal lead after skipper Kew Jaliens and Joel Griffiths, from the penalty spot, found the net.

Tunisian international Fahid Ben Khalfallah and star striker Besart Berisha got on the score sheet for Victory to give them a share of the spoils.

Brisbane Roar’s title defence goes from bad to worse

Things went from bad to worse for Brisbane Roar who slumped to a 3-1 defeat at home to Melbourne City at Suncorp Stadium, their fourth on the spin.

Indeed, it is the first time that any club in A-League history has failed to pick up a point from their opening four fixtures.

In the week leading up to the game, the club terminated former Irish international Liam Miller’s contract, with the player stating that he was unhappy with the lack of professionalism from coach Mike Mulvey.

An on-field spat between Shane Stefanutto and Jamie Young at the final whistle on Saturday wasn’t a good look, but Mulvey continues to insist that his team will come good.

 

However,  it’s hard to see where their first win is going to come from on current form, and the Jets will fancy their chances of turning them over in Newcastle this weekend.

Melbourne City, meanwhile, impressed in their first game since David Villa’s departure with Aaron Mooy putting in a virtuoso performance in the middle of the park.

David Williams, Mate Dugandzic and youngster Marc Marino got City’s goals, with Brandon Borello notching for the Roar.

All is not well on the Central Coast

It wasn’t pretty for the most part but Perth Glory went to the top of the table thanks to a 1-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Sunday.

Nebojsa Marinkovic’s stunning first half free kick was enough for the West Australians to claim their first regular season victory over the Mariners who have now lost three on the spin.

 

A crowd of just 6391 made it through the turn styles, perhaps a direct result of the poor start to coach Phil Moss’ first full season in charge.

There have been rumours of player unrest, Moss’ credentials have been questioned, and there continues to be talk about moving a number of games to North Sydney.

They do have a great chance to pick themselves up in Wednesday’s FFA Cup semi-final, but few will be expecting them to overcome in-form Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium.

Author Details

Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of BackPageFootball.com. Writes mostly on Premier League and A-League with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

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