Five things we learned this week in the A-League

The Melbourne public’s appetite for football continues to grow

On Friday night in Melbourne, Victory’s game with Brisbane Roar went head-to-head with a one day cricket test between Australia and South Africa and came out on top in terms of crowd figures.

A solid 23,740 attended the football at the Etihad Stadium while Cricket Australia expressed its disappointment at just 14,177 showing up the 100,000 capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Cricket still managed to dominant the television ratings though, proof that there is still a lot of work to do for the round ball game, but the signs are good in terms of sporting fans voting with their feet.

 

Victory claimed a hard fought 1-0 win thanks to a second half own goal by Roar defender Jade North and remain unbeaten after seven games.

The pre-game narrative focused on Albanian striker Besart Berisha who was facing his former club Brisbane for the first time since joining Victory but his impact on the contest was minimal.

An even bigger story emerged on Sunday with the news that the Roar had sacked coach Mike Mulvey, who delivered the Premier’s Plate and Premiership trophy just six months ago.

Reports suggest that Mulvey lost the dressing room, with Irishman Liam Miller leaving the club a couple of weeks ago after a falling out and an on-field bust up between Jamie Young and Shane Stefanutto following the defeat to Sydney FC.

Perth Glory’s Daniel De Silva is Australia’s brightest young talent

Another week, another win for Perth Glory who recorded a 2-1 win over the Wellington Phoenix to remain at the top of the A-League ladder.

They went ahead inside 90 seconds when 17-year-old Daniel De Silva got on the end of a Youssouf Hersi cross to score.

De Silva made his debut for the club when he was just 15 in a game against Alessandro Del Piero’s Sydney FC back in 2012 and since then he has been used sparingly by Glory to avoid burn out.

So talented is De Silva that Italian giants AS Roma have agreed a deal to bring him to Serie A at the end of the current A-League season and Australian football fans are hopeful that he can be the nation’s next superstar.

 

Republic of Ireland international Andy Keogh ended a run of four games without a goal as he scored what turned out to be the match winner, while Roy Krishna netted a late penalty for the Phoenix.

In a bizarre incident just after the hour mark, Glory substitute Ruben Zadkovich was sent off just 17 seconds after entering the field for a high challenge on Vince Lia but the West Australians held out for their sixth win in seven games.

He’s done alright, runs out of petrol a little bit but he’s only 12 so that’s probably why.

– Perth Glory boss Kenny Lowe on Daniel De Silva

Not even home advantage can get the Wanderers back on track

Western Sydney Wanderers have a backlog of games to work through thanks to their Asian Champions League commitments and played twice at their home, Pirtek Stadium, in the space of four days.

On both occasions they flattered to deceive and picked up a point from both, leaving them bottom of the table and winless after six games.

A dour goalless draw with the Central Coast Mariners was followed by a 1-1 stalemate against the Newcastle Jets, the team many have tipped to finish bottom of the table come season’s end.

 

Tony Popovic has had to rotate his side heavily due to the heavy schedule and the increased travel that has come with up, but to be 16 points off the pace already, albeit with a game in hand, is worrying.

For their part, Jets boss Phil Stubbins finally gave playmaker Marcos Flores a start and the Argentine responded with a neat finish for the equaliser.

Graham Arnold has turned Sydney FC into a force to be reckoned with

Regularly a laughing stock under Frank Farina, a new look Sydney FC boasts the joint best defence in the A-League and recorded their fourth win of the season away to Melbourne City.

Austrian striker Marc Janko got both goals in the 2-1 victory, with Erik Paartalu responding for the home side moments before Sydney’s Milos Dimitrijevic was sent off for two yellow cards.

Dimitrijevic will be a big loss for this coming weekend’s Sydney Derby against the Wanderers having formed an excellent partnership with Terry Antonis at the heart of the midfield.

 

Having started with a healthy home crowd of 15,717 against the Jets, this game attracted just 9474 and City will need to start performing a lot better if they are to become an attractive alternative to Victory for the Melburnians who have not yet pledged their allegiances to a football club.

Socceroos striker Josh Kennedy has join the club and will be available for selection from January, however his history with injuries means that the signing is something of a gamble in the wake of the David Villa debacle.

Phil Moss could be the next coach to get his marching orders

It was another miserable weekend for the Central Coast Mariners who, despite offering reduced price tickets for their fixture against Adelaide United, could only attract a crowd of 6404 on Sunday.

Phil Moss’ side were undone by two goals in the space of a couple of minutes before half time as Spanish import Pablo Sanchez found the net on both occasions.

Adelaide are one of the league’s best sides at the moment and were deserved winners but their opponents made things a lot easier than they should have been with a poor showing at both ends of the pitch.

 

Two down after the opening 45 minutes, things went from bad to worse for the Mariners in the second half as captain John Hutchinson stormed down the tunnel to the dressing room following his subs before Nick Montgomery was sent off for a second bookable offence.

It’s hard to see where their next win is going to come from given their poor showing in front of goal so far; they are the league’s lowest scorers with just four in seven games, and have only one recognised striker in the squad in Mitch Duke with import Malick Mane on his way out of the club having called his team mates shit after their FFA Cup semi-final loss to Adelaide earlier this month.

Mike Mulvey may have won the sack race this season but Phil Moss could come a close second.

Author Details

Neil Sherwin
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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