Western Melbourne are set to join the A-League next season, playing initially in Kardinia Park in Geelong, then eventually – in theory – in a purpose-built stadium in Tarneit.
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Round 6 of the A-League brought the predictable drama and controversy so common in Australian football.
With a flat out brawl at Coopers and a VAR disaster in Wellington, it was another week of the unbelievable. Amidst it all, a few men stood tall and earned a spot in the A-League team of the week.
1. Liam Reddy (Perth Glory)
With Perth under the pump from the Wellington press for the first 70 minutes of the match, the 37 year-old journeyman provided a resilient wall at the back.
Reddy kept the visitors in the game after a mostly dominant performance from the home side. He provided much of the incentive and hope to a Glory side that, eventually, grabbed the equaliser after a dubious red card saw the Phoenix limited to eleven for the final 15 minutes of the match.
2. Louis Fenton (Wellington Phoenix)
When Sarpreet Singh found space in the midfield against the Glory, his outlet was often down the right to a tireless Fenton who managed to fire numerous and dangerous balls into the box.
Fenton’s play mirrored the extra effort that Mark Rudan managed to extract from his squad and despite a shocking VAR decision, provided real hope for the short term future of the squad after a much improved performance.
3. Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix)
In a match where the home side was potentially robbed of two points after one of the most horrendous refereeing decisions that the A-League has seen in its history, Durante deserved better.
While the up-top pressure from the Phoenix defence kept the Glory well and truly under control, Durante led the back line stoically.
When the home side did go down to ten men and the Glory threw all bar the kitchen sink at them, Durante lifted again and refused to let the valuable point slip away from Mark Rudan’s team.
4. Nicholas Ansell (Melbourne Victory)
While the thrashing of Western Sydney was not a match where the Victory defence was peppered with attacking opportunities, what the back four were challenged with, was handled with aplomb.
Ansell was superb. Sturdy, decisive and committed to each and every moment, the 24 year old Melbourne native is enjoying the extra confidence that the improvement in Thomas Deng’s play is spreading across the back.
It is difficult to find a moment from the match where Ansell significantly lost his bearings, even for just a second, such was his comprehensive performance.
5. Bart Schenkeveld (Melbourne City)
I am surprised that the most powerful thighs in the A-League haven’t featured in the team of the week to this point of the season.
Although with City playing a little inconsistently and the attention squarely focussed on Bruno Fornaroli’s absence, perhaps the defender has been done an injustice. Despite an early injury concern, Schenkeveld held firm and snuffed out attacking wave after attacking wave from what ended up looking like a somewhat impotent Jets attack. It was his best game of the season thus far.
6. Isaias (Adelaide United)
It was a masterclass from Isaias in his ever quiet and unassuming style, as the Reds finally found some attacking form against Brisbane in the city of churches.
With a beautiful touch to set Goodwin ahead to create the opening goal and utter control in defensive midfield for much of the match, Isaias played the role he has undertaken for so long with absolute class, precision and poise.
The fact that he offered some humanity and grace during the more tense moments in the second half only added to his performance.
7. Terry Antonis (Melbourne Victory)
The Victory midfielder has long been held in high regard by many pundits and on the basis of his recent form, might just be starting to fulfil his potential.
Still only 25, the Sydney-born Antonis hails from my neck of the woods and plays his football in the spirit of his tough working class roots.
There were some scary combinations between Antonis, Keisuke Honda and Ola Toivonen on Saturday night and they proved the foundation of the more than impressive 4-0 rout of the Wanderers.
8. Keisuke Honda (Melbourne Victory)
Three early appearances in the team of the week is starting to look a little ominous for the rest of the competition and a Johnny Warren Medal looks likely for the Japanese if he is able to remain injury free.
It is just what the FFA hoped for and precisely what the A-League required; a humble superstar intent on making his mark with one of the most powerful clubs in the land. It has been a treat to watch thus far and there is, no doubt, plenty more to come.
9. Roy Krishna (Wellington Phoenix)
Without the dominance of a true nine over the course of the weekend, I am throwing a wide running attacker into the front three after being impressed once again by his engine and execution.
Krishna ran, ran further and then ran a little more in a brave performance from the Phoenix. His goal sent him to the top of the Phoenix all-time scoring list and his booking in the final moments of the game reflected his frustration at the ridiculous decision that cost him a chance to celebrate his milestone with a deserved victory.
10. Ben Halloran (Adelaide United)
You don’t just make the team of the week solely on the back of a pair of goals. However, when a third seemed likely and a fourth was parried away, it is clear just what a cracking game Ben Halloran played against Brisbane and the significant threat he became.
After five years abroad it was the first time since his return that the menacing forward looked totally comfortable, as the Reds put on their best attacking display of the season.
11. Craig Goodwin (Adelaide United)
With Goodwin at the heart of the opening goal, his importance in the Reds’ structure was further enunciated on Friday night.
Halloran may have knocked in the sphere yet the lead up work from Isaias and Goodwin was sublime and created the chance. Switching back to a wider role against Brisbane, Goodwin’s speed caused difficulties for the Roar defence all night and the long angled balls to space saw him threatening the by-line time and time again.
Another cracking team for Round 6 of the A-League. Am I on the money or way, way off the mark? Who were the men who made the difference from your point of view?