The Roar
The Roar

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Whether your team won or lost, Round 27 was flat-out fun

Roy O'Donovan of the Jets celebrates scoring against the Central Coast Mariners. (AAP Image/Darren Pateman)
Expert
16th April, 2018
39

Sometimes sport is comedic. Not in a nasty, vindictive sort of way; just fun.

On the weekend, I sat with my youngest daughter and watched Indian Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra launch himself into his event. Each time he threw, he ended up in something of a handstand position, headband and all, on his way to the gold medal on the Gold Coast.

He is an entertainer and his style unique.

Whether it be ‘lay down’ Sally Robbins rowing at the Olympics, Steven Bradbury’s ‘last man standing’ effort or a Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, humour will always be a part of sport.

Round 27 of the A-League was no different, despite creeping up on us slowly, after Friday night’s ‘Big Blue’ played out to script.

The remainder of the weekend proved to be a tipping disaster and my personal selections could be heard drifting off into the vacuous distance, like a tumbleweed in the abandoned town of a western gunslinger.

In the end, with orgasmic tension and excitement in two key matches, the A-League produced one of the most remarkable, unpredictable and sometimes comical rounds of the season.

A weekend consisting of 24 goals is a good starting point.

Wellington got things rolling with a come-from-behind victory against Melbourne City. The team having hardly fired a shot all season and the skills of youngster Sarpreet Singh, sent City home without a point. Are you kidding me?

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Just when many thought this City team was different, more consistent and in a position to play in a grand final (and they still may) the visitors fell to a Phoenix team that climbed off the bottom.

roy-krishna-wellington-phoenix-football-a-league-2016-tall

It was brilliant viewing and put pressure on the Mariners, who would need a similarly out-of-character performance against Newcastle in Gosford if they were to avoid the spoon.

The performance they put up was astonishing for all the wrong reasons. Defending like plastic cones and rebuilding the lost confidence of the Jets, the Mariners were abysmal and A-League record-keepers were called into action, as the goal tally mounted.

A penny for Mike Mulvey’s thoughts as he looked on. He appreciates the epic mountain before him but did even he realise it was this bad?

It was sad to see Josh Rose bow out in that way, however the most chaotic, comical and record-breaking F3 derby was difficult to watch without a smile on one’s face – excluding Central Coast fans of course.

The shootout in the west later that night between Perth and Brisbane – two teams seeking the sixth spot on the table – would surely be a stern and grinding affair with caution prudent.

It proved anything but, despite the opening goal from Perth. The early lead seemed to support the general consensus of a Glory triumph on home ground.

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A certain ‘slippery fish’ had other ideas and changed the face of the match to draw Brisbane level. Thomas Kristensen added another for the visitors and Henrique was at it again early in the second half to stretch the lead to two goals.

It was a terrific game to commentate and predictable drama was to follow. Jamie Young saved a penalty from Diego Castro after his own foul on Andy Keogh and a late own-goal saw Perth pull one back.

They were to fall short and it was hard not to smile, realising that John Aloisi had dragged his veterans from nowhere into the six and had one last shot at the finals.

John Aloisi speaks to his players on the sideline

After six rounds, Brisbane sat stone cold motherless. With imports stranded overseas, ACL numbers falling off kit and a cool manager refusing to admit to the disaster over which he was presiding, it looked like the proverbial train wreck.

In the end, they didn’t get going until the final third of the season. When they did, the Roar looked impressive.

Surely this would all come to nought, with the Wanderers assured of victory against Adelaide in the vast expanse of ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

With Adelaide resting Isaias and nothing to gain from a positional perspective, it was all set up for Brisbane’s last season charge to be muted on the final day.

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The eerie quiet in the stadium without the Red and Black Bloc in attendance added to the bizarre goings-on in the final round. Who would ever have envisaged that one day the Wanderers would play in such a vital game without their loyal active supporter group behind them?

We shook our heads and wondered how it got to this.

The game lived up to the head-scratching nature of the round. The early penalty to Oriol Riera was scratched out by Baba Diawara’s equaliser, before Daniel Adlung stunned the muted crowd and put Adelaide in front.

The Wanderers did draw level before the break, yet seemed to panic throughout much of the second half. They missed a penalty, had Keanu Baccus sent off for an ugly foul, and a late goal to Ryan Kitto sealed the deal for the visitors.

By the end, I couldn’t help but picture John Aloisi with a XXXX celebrating and starting to plan his trip to Melbourne City next week.

The best thing about such a crazy weekend was just how much fun it all was. It reminded me of how we all probably felt when we kicked our first sphere and were introduced to the Beautiful Game.