There’s a perfect storm brewing in the world of professional sport and the A-League has been one of the first competitions in Australia to feel the full effect.
While the A-League might be a little difficult to follow at this stage of the year, with midweek matches from variously numbered rounds being played, the men who made the biggest impact on the field were as clear as the proverbial nose on the face.
After a spicy six days of action, 11 players made their selection claims for the team of the week so profound, that they were impossible to ignore.
1. Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC)
The much maligned and at times, tough to read, Redmayne earns his first spot in the team of the week after a stellar display against Newcastle on Saturday evening.
In what was something of a stalemate for long periods, both he and Glen Moss were outstanding between the sticks. There was a certainty and security in Redmayne’s work; traits that when missing, cause all sorts of problems for goalkeepers of any standard. The Sydney custodian has had his issues this season but looks to be in fine form heading into the most crucial part of the season.
2. Matt Millar (Central Coast Mariners)
In a week where the Mariners were able to add four points to their tally, many players in the squad were finally given the chance to show their wares in a winning team.
It made no difference to Millar, who was once again outstanding across Central Coast’s two matches. His ever-present hustle and bustle was on show and he celebrated what is turning into a breakout season with a third-minute goal against the Roar in Gosford.
3. Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Newcastle Jets)
Despite the frustrations of controversially losing a man and appearing somewhat unlucky against Sydney FC on Saturday, the Jets defence did well. Topor-Stanley looks to be playing as well as ever and makes his second appearance in the team of the week for the season.
With a little more luck and persistence up front, his solid work at the back might begin counting for a little more, if and when the Jets start to hit the scoreboard more frequently.
4. Bart Schenkeveld (Melbourne City)
In what was one of the least entertaining and frankly, dull A-League encounters of the season, defence dominated the day when City and Glory played out a nil-all draw at AAMI Park.
In saying that, the City defence was stern once again with Schenkeveld at its core. The defensive aptitude of City is perhaps being a little undersold in A-League circles.
No matter how clunky and impotent their attacking plays may be, conceding just twelve goals, with the big German in charge at the back, might just be their greatest attribute come semi-final time. Cracking them will be a challenge for all teams.
5. Alex Wilkinson (Sydney FC)
How the Jets failed to score against Sydney FC is beyond my understanding. With an early injury to Jacob Tratt and a battling Aaron Calver who looked all at sea against the speed of the Newcastle wingers, the veteran held firm in the heart of the defence and led it courageously.
In a Sydney defence that has not been of the same standard of recent seasons; with leaky goals sneaking into their resume, more has fallen on Wilkinson’s shoulders and his form has not dropped off one iota.
6. Brandon O’Neill (Sydney FC)
It’s no wonder that transfer murmurings continue around the future of the 24 year-old Perth born midfielder. His form is attracting interest from elsewhere and were he to leave the Sydney FC set-up, manager Steve Corica would have an enormous hole to fill.
O’Neill was on point against the Jets at Jubilee Stadium in another quality performance to add to his bag for the year. I can’t recall him playing a poor game thus far, even when Sydney have been defeated. His work ethic and decision making once again stood out against the Jets.
7. Tom Hiariej (Central Coast Mariners)
After earning a spot in the team of the week just seven days ago, Hiariej is back after providing exactly what the Mariners have been searching for in midfield.
While still working back to full fitness and having been substituted in both matches played this week, Hiariej provides a touch of class and control in the midfield; something that was so lacking before his return. While far from playing brilliant football, the Mariners improvement is clear and Hiariej’s role in it, plain for all to see.
8. Vince Lia (Adelaide United)
Lia played the best game I have seen from him for some time against the Wanderers and Marco Kurz’s decision to use him based on the experience he brings to the team is proving to be a masterstroke.
He is keeping a quality young player in Nathan Konstandopoulos out of the starting side at the moment and with performances such as Friday night, will continue to do so. His early goal was Lia of old, a thumping strike to send the Reds to the lead in the eighth minute.
9. David Williams (Wellington Phoenix)
It took a while for Williams to find his feet back in the A-League after returning from Hungary. Now that he has, the output he is providing Mark Rudan is fast becoming a talking point and a real issue for opposition defences.
Now with four league goals to his name, Williams is starting to drift into dangerous positions and read the delivery and decisions of the fellow members of his front line. With Roy Krishna topping the scoring statistics, their combination stands to be a vital one come semi-final time.
10. Kosta Barabarouses (Melbourne Victory)
In the five-nil rout of the Roar at Suncorp Stadium, Barbarouses had one of those days of which attacking players dream. He doubled the Victory lead after 48 minutes and feasted on the superb work of teammates to add two further goals in the 72nd and 87th minute.
The smiling assassin giggled his way through the entire second half as he enjoyed the Midas touch and the results so often shared among the Victory attacking unit.
11. Craig Goodwin (Adelaide United)
After a hot start to the season and then something of a lull, Goodwin has returned to top form and scored his seventh goal of the A-League season in the Reds 2-1 win over the Wanderers at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.
Throw in the monumental strikes that helped Adelaide hold aloft the FFA Cup, and it’s clear Goodwin is enjoying his return to Australia. Once again, he was Adelaide’s most dangerous forward; deceptively quick, incisive with his runs and a constant threat to a Wanderers defence that found him difficult to contain at times.