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One more round of the A-League is in the history books. Here are the standouts from Round 4.
1. Jamie Young (Brisbane Roar)
On first impression, it may appear somewhat strange to include a goalkeeper that conceded two goals in the opening 20 minutes of a match.
Yet, in both cases there was an element of misfortune for Young and his positioning and effort could not be brought into question.
It was another outstanding game from one of the most respected glove men in the league; sadly ruined by a disgusting fan who levelled a slanderous verbal attack towards him late in the match.
2. Ritchie De Laet (Melbourne City)
The stunning goal aside, De Laet was in wonderful touch on Friday night as City comfortably dealt with the Phoenix in Melbourne.
What impresses me most is his balance and composure; attributes at the heart of the stunning and controlled strike that opened the scoring.
Getting forward is one thing but being able to contribute with goals such as Friday’s and other dangerous contributions he made in the attacking area, make the Belgian a problematic proposition for opposition defences.
3. Shane Lowry (Perth Glory)
Both the influence of Tony Popovic and signing of Ivan Franjic have proven master strokes for the Glory. A sloppy defence has become something far more resilient and Lowry is showing that none of the previous failings were of his making.
It might surprise a few to see him in this team, yet the 29-year-old was once again at the heart of an improved Glory back three, that is repelling opposition attacks and playing out to the midfield very effectively.
4. Thomas Deng (Melbourne Victory)
Good luck to the remainder of the league if breaking down a victory defence with Deng at its core is the challenge. Once again the tall central defender was calm, composed and methodical in his work.
Called up for national duty once again in the upcoming friendlies, he is fast becoming one of my favourite A-League players. Qatar awaits for the dynamic young defender.
5. Nick Cowburn (Newcastle Jets)
If ever a side needed a surprise maiden A-League goal from an unlikely source it was Newcastle. Still, without a win and sitting bottom, the Jets appeared to be heading for defeat against the equally lethargic Sydney FC, before the 23-year-old defender popped up at the near post and thumped a header into the top corner.
It was a terrific set piece goal and after playing a solid match where he had dealt with much of the attack Sydney had sent down his side, Cowburn instantly became the home town hero.
6. Keanu Baccus (Western Sydney Wanderers)
There is no more rewarding analysis of a midfielder’s game other than to simply suggest that he was busy. That is exactly what the 20-year-old was against the Roar and he produced his most polished and workmanlike performance for the Wanderers.
It was fitting that the match was played in Mudgee, a tough and demanding town with locals all used to taking a heads down approach to the challenges of rural life. With Baccus bustling through the midfield, the Wanderers looked as good as they have in any match this season.
7. Jason Davidson (Perth Glory)
It was getting harder and harder to leave Davidson out after stellar performances over the last month and whilst he may not have been as overtly noticeable as previous weeks, it was another superb display from the 27-year-old Socceroo.
Sitting on the left side of midfield and constantly taking up attacking positions, Tony Popovic is using the defender in an attacking role and Perth is reaping the rewards.
8. Milos Ninkovic (Sydney FC)
The 2016/17 Johnny Warren medallist was mighty close to selection in the team of the week seven days ago, yet couldn’t be left out this time.
In a match that never really took off, as the Jets snatched a point with the late Nick Cowburn header, Ninkovic was somewhere near his best in midfield.
Sadly for the Sky Blues, the goals never came off the back of some enterprising play, however, watching the Serb in isolation suggested that he is ready for another dominating season in Sydney.
9. Bruno Fornaroli (Melbourne City)
He’s baaaack. Without producing a vintage performance that suggests another dominant, golden boot-like explosion of goals, Fornaroli was very impressive against the Phoenix.
The strut and swagger appeared to be back after a couple of underwhelming efforts in recent weeks. Perhaps the lacklustre early season performances of City and the fans’ concerns over the Uruguayan’s form were more a reflection of team as opposed to the individual.
On Friday, he looked more like his old self and capped of his night with a goal in the 59th minute.
10. James Troisi (Melbourne Victory)
Perhaps I’ve been little harsh on Troisi. Despite still being somewhat stunned by his perpetual selection in the national team, I must admit that his performance against the Mariners on Sunday night was well and truly worthy of accolade.
Whilst it would have been simple to include a certain Japanese genius in this team, Troisi was equally outstanding for the Victory and worked in tandem with Keisuke Honda to establish a match-winning 3-0 lead for the home side even before the half-time break.
11. Eric Bautheac (Brisbane Roar)
Something tells me that Brisbane’s French attacker will be featuring quite often in the team of the week. Particularly if the Roar can manage some wins to go along with the promise and potential they are showing.
The purposeful manner in which Brisbane chipped away at an early two-goal deficit was often choreographed by Bautheac. Incisive runs and expertly played balls into the area are the hallmarks of his game and aspects that A-League fans will have the pleasure of watching in person when he comes to town.
Potentially, that might just be the best cumulative team so far this season. Have I read it wrong? Is there a glaring omission or an undeserving member in the team?