Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A-League team of the week, round 10

CENTRAL Coast defended deep at times, but there was a lot of desperation in their work, so no surprise to find a couple of their backs here. Meanwhile, Melbourne and Newcastle (lets not forget the Roar) were quite obviously the most potent in attack. With neither side really making a great impression in the Sydney-Perth clash, no room for any of those players in this week's 3-5-2;

Danny Vukovic, CCM, keeper; as his captain said in the post matcher presser, might have come off his line for the Reinaldo goal, but was otherwise top-shelf, particularly in making two crucial second half saves as the Roar came flying home. The first was an instinctive block to his right in the 57th minute from a Packer volley, the second a flying tip over the bar off Wedau. Going from strength to strength, if he keeps it up he will soon be putting pressure on Bolton for the mantra of 'number one of the local custodians'.

Wayne O'Sullivan, CCM, right back; playing at right back in the absence of Clark, O'Sullivan had a tough night keeping up with the constant stream of Roar bodies, but showed his fighting characteristics with some excellent covering tackles.

Alex Wilkinson, CCM, central defender; playing in the middle this year, Wilkinson hasn't looked as solid as he did out on the right last season, but in the past few weeks, as the Mariners have improved, he had looked more assured. Was exposed a couple of times, but for the amount of pressure he and O'Grady had to absorb, did well. Was guilty of retreating in the face of the final Roar onslaught, so needs to back himself to defend a little higher.

Andrew Packer, QR, left back; while he started at left back, he did his best work in the second half, at right midfield, but stays on the left in this team due to the good performance from Griffiths the night before. Bleiberg made the switch, perhaps to test the lack of pace of Tomasevic, and had it not been for a sharp reaction from Vukovic, it might have been a masterstroke.

Joel Griffiths, NJ, right midfield; van Dommele will still be having nightmares, particularly after Griffiths toyed with him in the first period. With United pushing high, it left plenty of space for the Griffiths to drive beyond van Dommele, and he used it well, almost pressuring Adelaide's left back into conceeding an own goal.

Fred, MV, attacking central midfield, right; after finishing clinically for the first, he combined with the likes of Brebner, Caceres, Thompson and Allsopp to toy with the Knights in the second half. While he is a true playmaker, he also has the workrate, pressing the Knights as much as any Melbourne player, as evidenced by the second goal. Was involved in everything, enough said.

Grant Brebner, MV, defensive central midfield; while he has been solid, the Scot has mainly been in the shadow of Muscat for most of the year, but with Muscat out, he stood up, creating the first and and playing a delightful hand in Caceres's goal. Just shaded Seo, who got better by the minute on Saturday, for the holding role.

Nick Carle, NJ, attacking central midfield, left; if his winner wasn't enough, his all-round influence on the Newcastle performance was simply brilliant. Screened by two defensive players, he was given a free role and gave Aloisi and Veart a working over. Demonstrating a healthy appetite to track back, he combination play with Rodriguez was too easy on the eye, all flicks and understanding. His ability to keep the ball has been eye-catching in the past few weeks.

Adrian Caceres, MV, left midfield; has been knocking on the door the past few weeks, only to be beaten by some excellent performances from the likes of Spagnuolo and Lazaridis, but there was no stopping him this week, toying with Bazeley, creating on the outside, drifting infield to wreak havoc and even popping up on the end of one of the best team goals yet in the A-League. Proving just how much Steve MacMahon failed to see, or recognise, last season.

Reinaldo, QR, striker; just pips Mori for his all-round involvement (admittedly the service was better from the Roar), he proved a constant headache for O'Grady. Physical and deceptively quick, and combining reasonably well with Zhang, he got his reward for some hard work with a towering equaliser. Has to be in the team of the week solely for his celebration.

Archie Thompson, MV, striker; while the Knights defenders have nightmares about most strikers in the league, probably most of their time is spent cursing this bloke. After destroying them in round three, he was back for more, getting one and creating another and generally highlighting the gulf in class between the sides.


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