Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A-League, round 12 round-up

ALREADY covered a fair bit of the action over the weekend, but here's a bit more;

Melbourne 1 v Perth 0; in the absence of centre back Vargas, it an interesting choice by Ernie Merrick to push Piorkowski infield and play Pantelidis at left back. While he is nominally a centre back, Piorkowski has occupied the left all season, while Pantelidis, mainly off the bench, has played either in central midfield or centre back. So it was a surprise choice, but the reasons became evident soon enough, with Pantelidis pushing forward regularly down the flank, keeping Bertos busy and adding to the numbers in midfield. While Perth made no real effort to come at Melbourne, thus inviting Pantelidis forward, he showed he has added some drive to the holding game he was renowned for last season. As for Perth, there was some interesting work from Ron Smith, giving Micevski a crack at central midfield ahead of Christie, while it was a first up appearance this season for Ryan Townsend, Josip Magdic and the excellent Tommi Tomich. Perth were spirited, well organised and worked their socks off, but missed the quality provided by veterans Lazaridis, Despotovski and Colosimo.

Sydney 4 v New Zealand 0; for all Sydney's early domination in possession, they were really struggling to find a cutting edge around the box. Too often the passing was slow, with the midfielders and wide men taking one or two touches on the ball too many, allowing the Kiwis to re-adjust in defence. It wasn't slick and incisive enough, only Zadkovich providing anything near the tempo required. The second half was much better, with quicker movement of the ball catching out the outclassed visitors. All three second half goals were gems involving quickness of thought and finishing. Petrovski's was first, a lovely ball drilled from central midfield by Talay to Zdrilic on the left, who found Brosque with an early square ball, who teed it up early for Petrovski to blast. Then cam Zdrilic's mazy run past Kovacevic and Bunce, this time from a quick Ceccoli throw-in, before Talay played a superb ball to tee up Carney, who showed wonderful balance and composure, great play all round. The less said about NZ the better.

Queensland 0 v Adelaide 1; like last week, this was a performance bereft of real belief from the Roar, perhaps a sign of the problems Bleiberg had been having over the past month or so. A team that has lost belief in it's manager, as appeared to be the case judging by some of these comments, was going nowhere. The Queensland we saw in the opening five rounds played some scintillating one and two touch football, where everything appeared in-synch and in control, but the team we've seen over the past six or so rounds has looked less convincing, perhaps still suffering from the mental battering at the hands of Melbourne in round six. Certainly the news of Bleiberg's resignation was a suprise, but he must have know he'd lost the dressing room, never a good sign. For Adelaide, this was very much a smash and grab raid, with Valkanis putting up the brick wall and Veart proving evergreen at the other end.

Newcastle 3 v Central Coast 1; after the fall-out from their 'grandad play' against Melbourne a week before, McKinna made some serious changes in crucial areas, bringing Vidmar into central defence alongside O'Grady, shifting Wilkinson to the right and bringing Mile Jedinak in for skipper Spencer. In truth they had little effect, as the Jets main change (Bridge for Rodriguez) had a more telling impact. The Mariners continued to defend poorly, first exposed by some strong Thompson running and a great Bridge volley before Carle and Bridge unlocked them down the guts with a lovely give and go. After Mori showed his lethal finishing, the introduction of a fired up Spencer for the injured O'Grady made an impression, but in truth the Jets looked in total control at the back and through the continued great work of Musalik and Kohler in midfield.

Goal of the week; Brebner's was a beaut finish, as was Bridge's volley, while the give and go between Carle and Bridge was top notch, but seeing two of the three second half goals for Sydney from my vantage point behind Talay provided a real appreciation of his range of passing. While the second was a killer ball into the diagnol run of Carney, goal of the week goes to his earlier contribution, a lovely long ball out to the left for Zdrilic to chase. Turning inside, he squared it to Brosque on the edge of the 18 yard box, who kept it going to Petrovski to hit first time with the outside of the foot. Thrilling technique all round, quick and incisive teamwork.


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