Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A-League team of the week, round 19

WITH the pressure on ahead of the semis and much riding on the result of almost every game, it's always fascinating to see who steps up and takes their opportunities and who goes the other way, into their shell. Overall, while it was intriguing and important, the quality of football wasn't of the highest level in round 19, especially with Newcastle reverting to a more direct style and Melbourne resting/voluntarily suspending all its guns. With Sydney on a bit of a downer, and the Mariners and Adelaide unable to turn their domination into goals, it was a strange weekend, with few players really standing out. Most of the great stuff came from the keepers, but I could only choose one in this week's 3-4-3;

Ante Covic, NJ, keeper; after a couple of average games to kick off his A-League career, there may have been a few doubts creeping in about whether he or the Jets had made the right call. Here he turned on the old class, pulling off four outstanding saves, including a particularly memorable gem to deny Jedinak an equaliser. In this form he could really make a difference to the Jets in the crunch games (right now).

Jade North, NJ, right sided defender; playing on the right of a two man central defence, this was always going to be a tough game for the Jets defence on a bumpy surface and against a strong Mariners. How would they rebound after Sydney touched them up last week? Well, they reacted well, with discipline and a willingness to get stuck in. While it was solid display as a unit, North looked up for it.

Paul O'Grady, CCM, central defence; at the other end and back it the fold for the first time in a while, O'Grady started a little hesitant, caught out by a couple of of early long balls, including the counter-attack which resulted in the only goal. Otherwise he was very strong and kept both Griffiths and Coveny quiet.

Mark Lee, PG, left sided defender; with no Fred to worry about darting in from the right and Vince Lia not really seizing his opportunity, Lee was allowed to get forward at will, provided the crosses for both goals with his neat left peg. Later, when he drifted into the box to try and get on the end of a cross from the right, he proved the left peg is all he has, trying to open himself up and meet it on the left foot when the ball was begging to be volleyed with his right. Not a pretty moment, but an otherwise decent job.

Dario Vidosic, QR, right midfield; continued his excellent finish to the season with another impressive showing whenever on the ball. Stepping in from the right, this neat technician is prepared to try things, demonstrated early when he danced around a defender on the edge of the 18 yard box, played it in to Reinaldo and went from the return ball, only denied by a sharp Beltrame. Later, showing awareness, he held the ball up, waited for the run of Mori, and reversed it into his path with his under-sole, taking out a defender in the process. Love seeing a talented kid try things, long may that be encouraged.

Paul Kohler, NJ, central midfield; I thought both Spencer and Jedinak had decent games for the opposition, while Webster was good for the Glory, but Kohler was an absolute dynamite in game that was made for him, more about spoiling and competing than playing. With Carle and Musalik not suited in the going, Kohler quietly went about his work, but was crucial to the win.

Leigh Broxham, MV, central midfield; not content with polishing his teammates boots, or whatever it is apprentices do these days, in 30 odd minutes, on debut, he set about cleaning up the Glory midfield, combining well with Brebner and looking neat and tidy on the ball. With his head up, he played some intelligent balls, quick and aware, and helped Melbourne control parts of the finish, despite being a man down.

Jason Spagnuolo, AU, left midfield; another impressive display from a kid finding the consistency required at this higher level. This time it was Ben Griffin's turn to deal with his mobility and pace, and in the main he struggled. Gets in ahead of Leilei Gao, impressing again.

Neil Emblen, NZK, behind the front two; playing in the hole in front of central midfielders Johnson and Salley and behind Marcina, Emblen caused Sydney no end of trouble, always presenting as an outlet, holding it up, bringing his midfielders into the game, turning and prompting Marcina. Most managers would reverse the roles, playing the bigger man up front, but Emblen was able to relieve the pressure, showing quick feet, even nut-megging a couple of unsuspecting Sydney players. Good to see him finding some of the form that had him playing well in the middle part of last season, when he was ostensibly a central midfielder.

Reinaldo, QR, striker; back in the first 11 for the first time since being sacrificed in round 14 following the Gibson dismissal against Sydney, he seemed keen to make up for lost time, giving the likes of Valkanis and Costanzo constant headaches with his strength, workrate and good touch. Combined better with Mori than Lynch had been and was too strong for Alagich in reacting to Mori's shot.

Alen Marcina, NZK, striker; quick, mobile and with a keen positional sense, Marcina appears suited to a game built around the counter-attack, and stretched the Sydney rear-guard whenever the ball made its way forward. Indeed, it was his selfless running that won the corner that lead to the only goal, and he might have had himself a second in as many weeks had Bolton not been alert in the second half.


Blogger john said...

For me Reinaldo is the Roar's key player and play maker.

Wed. Jan. 10, 11:24:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...


When he's been on, he's been excellent. Problem is he's had a few games where he's been too quiet.

I'm sure Farina would like to see him re-produce his form from a week ago for the next two weeks at least.

Thu. Jan. 11, 09:18:00 am AEDT  

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