A-League team of the week, round nine
THIS week I've decided to do something a little different by including a whole back four in my team of the week. Given that Newcastle was the only team to keep a clean sheet and that each of the back four were excellent, it was hard to leave any one of them out, so this week's team is build around some brilliant Newcastle defence and wonderful Adelaide attack, as described in my round nine wrap. It means that some excellent contributors miss out, the likes of Carle, Pezos, Vargas, Casey, Thompson, Caceres and Kwasnik. Here is it, in 4-4-2;
Michael Theoklitos, MV, keeper; almost had one moment of madness late on when he tried to clear a ball and it went straight to a Sydney player, but overall he had a solid game, particularly in relieving pressure at the end, when Sydney knocked a succession of crosses in. Made one sharp stop early on to keep out a Vargas mis-kick, and could hardly be faulted for Corica's goal given that his defence did little to protect him. Ben Kennedy had his best game to date and pushed him close.
Steve Eagleton, Jade North, Andrew Durante and Matt Thompson, NJ back four; with Okon pulling out injured, it was a re-worked back four, with North slotting into the centre and Thompson dropping back. In truth, it took them some time to settle, and Milicic should have made them pay for being caught square, but when they did settle, they looked organised and solid. Durante, confidence renewed, was the rock, taking on Reinaldo in the physical stakes and invariably coming out on top. The others were just as solid, and in the second half, as Newcastle dominated, North and Thompson joined the odd venture forward. With Okon playing well last week, much better work from what is arguably the smallest defence in the league.
Bobby Petta, AU, right midfield (pictured above, courtesy of www.adelaideunited.com.au); with Dodd on the bench and Spagnuolo on the left, Petta proved he is a class act wherever he plays, orchastrating the United romp in the first half and early in the second. Creating time and space for himself, he makes everything look so effortless, and played a telling hand in two of the goals, setting up Veart's with two nice touches and getting on the end of the third. Wonderful to watch, he is a keep ball merchant of top quality.
Paul Kohler, NJ, defensive central midfield; the adaptable defensive minded player started alongside Musalik as part of a two man screen in front of the back four and behind the front four. After settling into the game, he did some excellent work both with and without the ball, keeping his shape and discipline to help Musalik and Carle get over the likes of McKay, Seo and Dilevski. Paul Pezos, stepping up from the SA state league, also caught the eye.
Simon Colosimo, PG, attacking central midfield; playing in an unfamiliar attacking role, he combined beautifully with Pezos to dominate the likes of Spencer and McMaster. Driving from box to box, he was always there, supporting Despotovski in attack and helping out Kovacevic and Harnwell in defence. Unfortunate to be involved in the Petkovic leg break, Perth fans will be hoping he isn't out for long. Keeps Carle out this week.
Jason Spagnuolo, AU, left midfield; only on for just over an hour, but what a contribution it was, terrorising Beazley most of the night with his pace and good ability on the ball. Also proving to be an excellent crosser, it was his ball's from in behind the defence that set up the first for Burns and the third for Petta. The memory of the injured Lucas Pantelis is a distant one with Spagnuolo doing so well, and gets in this week ahead of the unlucky Caceres.
Tom Pondeljak, CCM, striker; while he played at right midfield on Friday, the presence of Petta in the team and Pondeljak's adaptability gets him up front this week, keeping out the likes of Thompson, Kwasnik and Casey. Two clinical finishes at either end of the game grabbed the headlines, but it was his allround play, giving makeshift fullback Webster a torrid time, that stood out. Such a key to the Mariners doing well.
Nathan Burns, AU, striker; hard to believe this bloke is just 19 given how much maturity and poise he packs into his game. Blessed with blistering pace, excellent dribbling ability, mobility and awareness, he also demonstrated in this game just how much of a football brain he has, playing two crucial balls in the build ups to the final two goals. While his reverse pass to Spagnuolo was a gem to set up Petta, his cross from the left for Dodd's goal was perfectly executed, a parcel delivered with the efficiency and accuracy of a top class player. Has been one of the stories of A-League season two, so much so he will be hard to replace while away on Young Socceroos duty.