The 14th round of the Hyundai A-League has dished up another serve of thrills and surprises. On Friday night, the in-form Wellington Phoenix travelled to Hindmarsh Stadium to take on the Japan bound Adelaide United. This was an important game for The Reds, as they would leave for Japan on Saturday ahead of their FIFA World Club Championship fixtures.
The game started in a slow and measured fashion with both teams feeling out each others mindset for the game. After a few chances at both ends, United finally capitalized on a fairly good portion of possession.
A corner was whipped in to the back post and a stinging header from Robert Cornthwaite was cleared off the line and ricocheted back to Sasa Ognenovski lurking on the edge of the 18-yard box.
His low drive somehow found its way through a maze of legs to open the scoring. This was the big central defenders third goal in as many games.
After they scored, the Reds enjoyed a period of total domination and should have scored a few more until the 42nd minute when another corner resulted in Brazilian import Cristiano getting his header on target from the near post.
The situation got worse for Wellington at halftime when goalkeeper Mark Paston had to be substituted after coming off second best in a challenge with Cristiano midway through the first half.
He struggled on and despite conceding two goals was quite brilliant in denying Adelaide the chance to go further ahead with some outstanding saves.
Wellington started off the second half with a renewed sense of purpose and urgency. This resulted in the game opening up with a few chances at either end. On 56 minutes, Fred was in the right spot to pounce on a free kick which cannoned off the right post into his path and he made it 2-1.
This sparked the Reds back into life and they jumped on the accelerator.
A surge into the Wellington half resulted in a nice layoff by Cristiano into the path of Cassio who had made a dashing run into the box on the left. He steadied with one touch and then blasted a left foot shot across new goalkeeper Glen Moss into the net. This marked the start of total domination once again from Adelaide.
Eleven minutes later, Cassio again was the recipient of nice ball this time from Paul Reid whose delightful lifted ball over the Wellington defence sat up nicely for Cassio to produce and almost carbon copy of his first goal.
On 74 minutes Cassio again wandered into the penalty box unmolested by an defenders and unleashed another shot at Moss who this time parried it unfortunately into the waiting arms of Cristiano who slotted the ball home to make it 5-1.
The demolition was complete when an attempted clearance by Moss was halted by Cristiano and the ball bobbled back to captain Travis Dodd who snuck the ball under Moss to seal a 6-1 thrashing of the visitors.
This sent Adelaide United to the top of the A-League ladder and away to Japan on a high.
On Saturday afternoon, the Central Coast Mariners hosted the leagues road warriors, Queensland Roar. After just 11 minutes the Roar proved why they are the most dangerous team on the road with striker Serginho van Dijk produced a shot from 30 yards out which almost broke the net.
Goalie Danny Vukovic had no chance as it sailed into the top corner. The game was very tightly matched for most of the rest of the first half with the Mariners having a few chances to level things up.
The second half was a back and forth affair with Queensland having a few chances to kill off the game but that was blown away when substitute Andre Gumprecht was on hand to volley home an attempted clearance of a free kick by Queensland.
His shot from 25 yards out blasted into the net behind a flapping Liam Reddy. The game had a few more chances but ended 1-1.
The second game on Saturday saw Melbourne Victory, on top of the ladder at the start of the round travel to Perth to face the cellar dwelling Glory in what looked like a David versus Goliath battle. Perth came out firing early and were taking it up to the league leaders.
Their efforts were rewarded after 18 minutes when import Eugene Dadi was on hand to blast home a piece of enterprising play from Adrian Trinidad who after beating defender Michael Thwaite had laid a beautiful ball into the heart of the penalty box for Dadi to hit into the underside of the bar, bounce over the line and then come back into play. After a few anxious seconds the goal was awarded.
After 22 minutes Eugene Dadi was the recipient of another nice ball this time from a corner which he also slotted home. This gave Perth a two goal cushion and a big fillip going into the second half.
Melbourne came out as expected and took it right up to the Glory and came very close a number of times to getting on the score sheet. After 55 minutes, Ney Fabiano was released on the left and went near post on Glory keeper Tando Velaphi. His shot was squeezed in after the young goalkeeper had anticipated a cross goal shot.
Melbourne pushed hard for the equalizer but were silenced when Adriano Pellegrino controlled the ball beautifully, found his way past one defender and then unleashed a wonder strike from fully 40 yards out for his first goal for the Glory at the 79th minute mark.
Perth held on resoluely until the final whistle for a hard fought and deserved win 3-1.
On Sunday, the last game of the round was between two of the teams struggling for form at the moment, Sydney FC travelling to Newcastle to take on The Jets. Newcastle opened the scoring early with Jobe Wheelhouse deftly tucking away a shot from the centre of the penalty area at the 11th minute.
Sydney tried hard to get a goal back quickly and were rewarded when burly central defender was on hand to latch on to a nice header back across the penalty area from striker John Aloisi only four minutes later.
Newcastle who was without their main striker, Joel Griffiths who was serving the 2nd of a two match ban for a red card were struggling at times to find a way into goal. It remained locked at 1-1 at half time.
Into the second half was still a stalemate as both teams tried to find a way through to goal. Sydney manager John Kosmina decided some changes were in order and brought on some youngsters to inject some energy.
The trick worked when new boy Brendan Gan slotted home a nice right foot shot across Ante Covic after some neat work from Steve Corica and John Aloisi which switched the play from right to left. Sydney held on for a very handy 3 points away from home 2-1.
So after this weeks action Adelaide United move to the top of the A-League and the Newcastle Jets have dropped to the bottom after being leapfrogged by a resurgent Perth Glory.
The Reds now go to Japan for the Club World Cup and will have to make up some games in January that they will miss over the coming two weeks which will muddle the table a little bit.
Some great action from the A-League every week. Stay Tuned.
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