How your team fared and who made the headlines from the weekend’s exciting round of football in the Hyundai A-League.
Melbourne City FC
City continued their recent run of good form, making it three games unbeaten after a 1-1 draw with league leaders Perth Glory at AAMI Park on Boxing Day. But John van’t Schip’s side will feel they should have taken all three after creating the better chances and dominating for large periods. Aaron Mooy made up for the disappointment of missing out on the Asian Cup squad with an eye-catching performance and stunning goal. The return of Damien Duff from injury and another cameo off the bench from marquee man Robbie Koren was another positive. The pair could even be ready to start for the trip to Newcastle to face the Jets on Tuesday.
Glory’s unbeaten run extended to an impressive nine matches with another well-earned point on the road. Kenny Lowe’s troops showed all their trademark character and resilience to fight back from a goal down and gain a result despite being below their best. Richie Garcia got the goal against his former club with a well-placed header and things might have also been different if the former Socceroo was awarded a penalty in the first half after appearing to be tripped in the box by Patrick Kisnorbo. Glory is again in Melbourne for their next clash, a top of the table fixture against Victory in Geelong on January 2.
The Sky Blues’ struggles continued as they were overrun in the second half to lose 3-0 to Adelaide United at Allianz Stadium on Friday night. That’s now three straight defeats in front of their home fans for Graham Arnold’s side who are fast seeing their Premiership trophy hopes fading away. The only positive for Sydney FC is that no more players picked up serious injuries, although they will now lose Terry Antonis to Socceroos Asian Cup duty. They next head to the scene of arguably their best performance of the season next, a clash with Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday.
The Reds continued their recent dominance over Sydney with a classy away performance. Adelaide found it difficult to penetrate the Sky Blues defence in the first half but found the answer after the break with Bruce Djite and substitutes Pablo Sanchez and Awer Mabil grabbing the goals. The result keeps Josep Gombau’s troops within striking distance of the top of the ladder but a groin injury to Marcelo Carrusca is a concern. He’s unlikely to be fit for the New Year’s Eve clash with Wellington, while Eugene Galekovic (Socceroos duty), Nigel Boogaard and Tarek Elrich (both suspended) will also miss the match.
Central Coast Mariners
The Mariners will be wondering how they didn’t come away with their second win of the season after playing out an entertaining 3-3 draw with Brisbane Roar at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday. Despite trailing 1-0 at the break, the Mariners lifted their intensity and twice had the lead in the second half after goals from Eddy Bosnar, Matt Simon and Seung Yong Kim. But as has been the case during their now 11-game winless run, Phil Moss’ troops switched off at vital times and allowed Brisbane to peg them back. At least they seem to have overcome their goal-scoring blues, finding the net three times for the first game this season while also ending over 400 minutes without a goal at home. It’s Western Sydney Wanderers FC away next up on New Year’s Day.
Brisbane Roar FC
Brisbane’s recently acquird defensive solidarity under new boss Frans Thijssen was whittled away in just 45 minutes in a second half onslaught by the Mariners. It was only Jean Carlos Solorzano’s brace – his first Hyundai A-League goals in over three years – and a deflected James Donachie header which enabled them to leave Gosford with a point. Thijssen would have been impressed with his side’s fighting qualities to come from behind twice, while midfielder Adam Sarota got through his first 90 minutes of the season since his return to the club. A second half injury to leading scorer Henrique is a worry ahead of Tuesday night’s clash with Sydney FC.
After a Derby loss last week Victory made an immediate return to winning ways with a hard-earned 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park on Saturday night. Kevin Muscat’s side left it late to take all three points with Gui Finkler’s sublime free-kick five minutes from time proving the difference. It wasn’t Victory’s most fluent performance but they did enough to eventually wear down an organise Jets outfit. The result sees Victory close the gap on league-leaders Perth Glory to just four points ahead of their meeting in Geelong on Friday.
The Jets were unable to build on their breakthrough win last weekend, narrowly beaten by the competition favourites despite a brave 90-minute performance. To have worked so hard to repel wave after wave of Victory attacks, the will feel hugely disappointed to have been beaten by a set-piece, regardless of how good Finkler’s strike was. Phil Stubbins’ new 3-5-2 formation looks to have made the Jets far more difficult to break down and if they can just add a little bit more quality going forward, the second half of the season promises to bring some joy. They will hope that it starts on Tuesday when Melbourne City head to Hunter Stadium.
Phoenix maintained their hot streak, doing just enough to see off Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1-0 in Wellington on Sunday afternoon. A dubious first half penalty won and converted by Roy Krishna was the difference as Ernie Merrick’s side solidified their spot in fourth position, five points clear of the next best Sydney FC. A possible hamstring injury to Krishna, who has six goals for the season, is a huge concern especially with Nathan Burns now heading into Socceroos camp.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC
The Wanderers return to domestic duties following their FIFA Club World Cup campaign but it was the same old story for Tony Popovic’s troops. They were unable to make the most of some excellent chances created, extending their winless run for the season to 10 games to be four points adrift of the Jets at the bottom of the ladder. 2015 can’t come soon enough for the Asian Champions, who will hope a new year will bring with it a change of luck in the Hyundai A-League. They next host the Mariners at Pirtek on New Year’s Day.