Monday, December 11, 2006

A-League team of the week, round 16

AGAIN, not many goals scored this weekend, only six to follow up on last week's seven. Let's hope that's not a trend that continues. Other than the Roar's poor performance, it was a pretty even weekend, thus the spread of players from seven of the eight teams in this week's 3-5-2;

Mark Paston, NZK, keeper; while Beltrame did well at the other end, making three excellent late stops as the Knights tried to pinch it on the counter, Paston made three or four top-class finger-tips saves late to deny the likes of Spagnuolo and Owens. His sharp reaction down to left to keep out a Spagnuolo volley was particularly brilliant.

Andrew Clark, CCM, right stopper; even though he played left in a two-man central defence (his position from last season), I'm plonking him on the right of a back three here after a decent display as an early replacement for the injured Vidmar. Combined well with both Wilkinson and Brown and covered the ground quickly.

Mark Milligan, SFC, central defence; was absolutely skinned by Thompson in that second half run that saw him shoot wide of Bolton, but apart from that his general covering and reading of the play was vital to Sydney keeping a clean sheet. That extra pace he adds has been a crucial component to Sydney's improved fortunes at the back.

Matt Thompson, NJ, left back; continuing his excellent form since being switched to left back, Thompson offered drive throughout, pinning back Gibson in the first half and Griffin in the second. His run to set-up the second goal, for Griffiths, was just typical of his good work.

Greg Owens, AU, right midfield; while it was only a brief cameo, just over 20 minutes, Owens did more in that time than most of his teammates had done prior, driving from central midfield, grabbing United's equaliser and generally causing a tiring Knights midfield all sorts of problems. The dearth of quality down the right this week gets him the gig there.

Stuart Musalik, NJ, central midfield; with so much focus on Carle, Musalik has had the freedom to act as the quarter-back from a deeper role. Picking the ball up off the defenders, he has been the key link-man between defence and attack, and most of his distribution has been crisp and precise. Indeed, watching him over the past few weeks has been among the joys of season 2.

Simon Colosimo, PG, central midfield; not the greatest performance from a Glory team missing two of its biggest names, Lazaridis and Despotovski, but one player who did perform was the skipper. Operating in a deep midfield role, his defensive work to keep both Pondeljak and Gumprecht quiet was good, while his work on the ball was efficient. One free-kick he hit was as clean as you've seen, just wide.

Jonas Salley, NZK, central midfield; no doubt the Knights have missed this bloke, a tiger in the heart of their midfield. While he isn't always the prettiest on the ball, his hassling work on Veart and Aloisi was feature of this match, never giving them space. His work in tandem with Johnson laid the platform for strikers Emblen and Marcina to see more of the ball than they ever have.

Jason Spagnuolo, AU, left midfield; after a relatively quiet first half, exploded into life in the second, involved in numerous chances as United came flying home. Blessed with an excellent attitude and will to learn, continues to play well while his teammates stutter, and gets in ahead of Petrie, who did a decent job against Coyne.

Archie Thompson, MV, striker; caused Sydney' all sorts of headaches with his mobility, quick feet and pace, pick-pocketing them with a quickness of mind and body. All that was missing was a finish, denied once by the brilliance of Bolton and a couple of times by his own wastefulness. Simply beautiful to watch. Special mention to Marcina, who was busy throughout for the Knights.

Mark Bridge, NJ, striker; grasping his opportunity to start and being afforded a fair bit of space by McCloughan and Buess, Bridge scored two wonder goals to take his tally to the season to five. A player who loves having the ball at his feet, he combined well with Rodriquez throughout. If he can develop the consistency required at this level, and that will take time, he could be some player.


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