Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A-League team of the week, round 18

AS NOTED by Mariners man Wayne over at The Fisherman's Friend, it really was a weekend where much happened but little changed, with Sydney still second, Adelaide third and the Mariners and Newcastle both battling for fourth. Perth managed to hang on for a point thanks mainly to some wastefulness from Adelaide and the continuing good form of their own custodian Tommi Tomich, who gets into the team of the week yet again. The biggest loser of the round was the Roar, spanked by the Ricki Herbert inspired Knights, who are rewarded for an impressive passing display with representation here. The most imposing display though was from Sydney FC, building up their confidence by the week. No surprise than to find so many of it's players in this week's 4-2-3-1;

Tommi Tomich, PG, keeper; with Adelaide bombarding him early, Tomich stood up, made himself big (which he is) and produced at least three quality saves to keep his first A-League clean sheet, which he was rightfully delighted about afterwards. His imposing presence no doubt played a role in United shooting wide on a couple of other occasions. Can't be doing his chances of landing a permanent contract, even as a back-up, any harm.

Ruben Zadkovich, SFC, right back; unfamiliar territory but marked his intentions early with a crunching challenge on Mark Bridge, which silenced the in-form striker. From there Zadkovich was on top, never giving Bridge or Griffiths any room to breath. Gets in ahead of Darren Beazley, who had his best game (as far as I can remember) for the Knights.

Angelo Costanzo, AU, central defender; back in the starting line-up for Kristian Rees, he was solid and committed, getting tight on makeshift striker Leo Bertos and forcing him to be shifted back into midfield soon enough. Ron Smith thought he might expose Adelaide's lack of pace at the back by starting Bertos up top, but Costanzo was having none of that.

John Tambouras, NZK, central defender; after disappointing last season, must be wrapped to have another opportunity. After grabbing the early goal by attacking a free-kick, kept up the good work in the air by winning everything at the back and shutting out Mori, never the easiest of tasks. Combined well between Bunce and Gordon.

Mark Milligan, SFC, left back; now one of the first names on the team-sheet for Terry Butcher (alongside Corica, Bolton and Carney), this was another dominant display, this time alongside new central partner Ian Fyfe. Whenever Sydney do look like getting caught out, Milligan identifies the danger and scampers across in cover. No coincidence the five clean sheets have come since his arrival in central defence, but his versatility gets him a spot on the left here. Gordon was strong against a listless Roar, while Mark Lee was did a decent enough job on Travis Dodd.

Terry McFlynn, SFC, defensive central midfield; his best game of the season, McFlynn was tight and physical on Nick Carle from the start, tracking him everywhere, frustrating him throughout. Once he won the ball, combined well with Talay to help prompt Sydney.

Richard Johnson, NZK, defensive central midfield; along with Jonas Salley, dominated the midfield against the likes of Seo and McKay, getting close to his wide men in Hickey and Gao and supporting Emblen and Marcina in attack. Seemed Herbert wanted to use him more as a creator, not just a ball winner as his previous bosses had.

David Carney, SFC, right sided attacker; it wasn't a 90 minute performance from Carney, but whenever he did get involved, Sydney looked a threat. When the game was in the balance at half-time, he drifted into the middle, creating an extra number for Sydney in central midfield, forcing Durante to step out of defence and pulling Newcastle out of position. Jinking one way and then back onto his left peg, he looks to be rediscovering the sharpness of last season. Not many players mastered the bumpy pitch at Energy Australia, but Carney did.

Steve Corica, SFC, attacking central midfield; whenever Sydney do go forward and string passes around the opposition box, it is almost inevitable that Corica is there or thereabouts, jinking, turning, holding up the ball, driving into the box, getting an effort on target or teeing up a teammate. As fit as he's ever been, his workrate has been phenomenal. Given too much space by a Jets defence that backed off, but once again teed up the decisive goal, as he had a round earlier.

Leilei Gao, NZK, left sided attacker; while Stewart Petrie had a busy game against the Victory, this guy was a livewire running at the Roar rearguard, giving Ben Griffin a torrid time. Prepared the try things, looks like he wants to entertain.

Archie Thompson, MV, striker; lethal, setting up the first and destroying young Brad Porter for the second. A sign of his confidence is his willingness to take on his man in one v one situations, even if he's deep in his own half. A little dink, as quick as the blink of an eye, and he's away, just marvelous. An entertainer, one of the real poster boys of the league. Special mention to Neil Emblen and Alex Brosque, instrumental in their team's successes.


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