In 2016 I wrote a piece for The Roar entitled My ten greatest sporting reads.
It was a real shame to lose the Sydney derby from the slated Round 18 matches. Now one of the biggest games on the schedule will have to be played at another time.
The Jets cared little, finally finding some form, and City reigned over Victory in the battle down south.
Elsewhere, Perth bared their teeth and the Roar kept winning, climbing into the top six. The men in orange have another chance at all three points this weekend in Ballarat, the Wanderers and Jets will fight out a desperate clash and Adelaide need points against the plucky Mariners.
The match of the round will undoubtedly be the second vs fourth clash between the Phoenix and Melbourne City. A City win may well go some way towards locking in the top three.
Be sure to enter your tips in the sheet below to have a say as part of the interactive voice of the crowd. Yours truly has just a slender lead and the final ten rounds are now upon us.
Here are the thoughts and tips of the panel on all the Round 19 action.
Adelaide, Wellington, draw, Brisbane
Will the Reds ever draw a game again? They looked to be cruising after going 1-0 up against Brisbane Roar last weekend, but in the end the 2-1 defeat didn’t exactly feel like a huge surprise either. They’re a better team than the Mariners and Gertjan Verbeek will have put a rocket under them, but this could be a more difficult encounter than it looks.
In an ideal world the A-League would launch an Auckland expansion team and we’d have a genuine Kiwi derby. Instead the Phoenix make yet another trip to Eden Park, where they’ve made a bit of a habit of scaring the bigger sides. They come up against a City side that seems to wilt under the slightest pressure, so I expect the ‘hosts’ to jag this one.
We’re yet to see Jean-Paul de Marigny run on the pitch and give a rival player a piece of his mind in his stint as Western Sydney coach, but the one-time Newcastle Jets assistant might have a decent opportunity here. Both of these teams are having forgettable seasons and neither look particularly tight at the back. A high-scoring draw, then?
This one’s going to be a blast! It’s largely escaped the attention of the Sydney-Melbourne media, but these two teams don’t like each other. And after an acrimonious 2-0 defeat to Western United at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Roar would no doubt love to gain their revenge in Ballarat. Expect the visitors to be well up for this trip to Mars Stadium.
Adelaide, Wellington, Newcastle, Brisbane
Should the Reds not manage a win against Central Coast on Friday, their semi-final credentials will begin to look very shaky. Mathematically they will remain well and truly in the hunt, but dealing comfortably with the Mariners is exactly what a serious contender should be able to do at this stage of the season. Adelaide will claim the points, but expect the Mariners to produce another dogged performance.
The Wellington Phoenix’s clash with Melbourne City at Eden Park is the toughest to pick this weekend. Perth were too good for Ufuk Talay’s men last time out and City surprised a few with a solid win in the traditional Melbourne derby. Many will throw the darts at the board to pick this one. I’m seeing a home win for the Phoenix in front of a nice crowd.
Bankwest Stadium will host a match on Saturday night that could be the last hoorah for the teams involved. With a win the Wanderers and Jets will still feel they can make a late run for the finals. With a loss I’m calling either cooked. The Jets’ form will stand up in this one and Western Sydney’s season may well be toast after another loss despite the fact they will remain a solitary point clear of Newcastle.
And now we arrive at the fiasco that is my weekly selection in the match involving the Brisbane Roar. For what it is worth, and to the cheers of many up north, I feel the men in orange are due for a loss. Actually, you know what? I’m switching. United have won just once since 13 December and the Roar are my new favourite team. Brisbane to win 4-0.
Adelaide, draw, Western Sydney, Brisbane
Two beaten teams from last week are first up when Adelaide host Central Coast Mariners. The Reds form until last week had been good and their record of three wins out of the last four stacks up a lot better than the Mariners, who have lost four on the trot. The home ground advantage will be the difference here.
Wellington’s hopes took a dive in Perth last week, although when they pulled it back to 3-2 they must have thought they were in with a chance. Their opponents, Melbourne City, came back to some form with a couple of spanking team goals in their derby win last week. This game will be played in the pleasant surrounds of Eden Park in Auckland and should end all square.
With a bye and a postponed match the Wanderers have played only one game in the last three weeks. That game was a good away win against the Mariners, who also happened to provide Newcastle’s first scalp in ten weeks. Will the Wanderers be able to continue the momentum given the break? I expect a reversal of the Round 8 result where the Jets won 2-0 at home. Wanderers by two.
Western United are on the move again, this time to Ballarat, where they will lock horns with Brisbane Roar. It’s hard to put a line through United as their last game was a scoreless draw two weeks ago in trying conditions against Newcastle. Brisbane Roar finally seem to have some mojo, thanks in part to the acquisition of Scott McDonald, who has put in an excellent stint on his return to Australia. Brisbane to win.
Adelaide, City, Western Sydney, draw
Just the four games this round. After a frantic weekend of postponements, derby triumphs and seven-goal thrillers we look ahead towards to the pointy end of this A-League season.
Friday night sees Adelaide having to bounce back after throwing away a 1-0 lead against the Roar. They host the Mariners, who are coming off an F3 derby loss in a torrential downpour – hardly an accurate representation of what they can do, but still a loss nonetheless.
I think we’ll see the hosts take this one early. Two goals before half time and they won’t let up from there. Adelaide to win.
Saturday’s opener is set to have a massive impact on the run home to finals. Melbourne City are holding firm in second as Perth are knocking on their door. If they drop points here, they can certainly expect Perth to take it in their stride and steal second place next week.
The Phoenix are something of an anomaly. They’re playing great football but seem to suffer from inconsistency once eyes are on them, and I personally don’t think the loss in the distance derby will do much to spur them on. City to kick on from the derby win and take this one in a tight affair.
Last week’s derby postponement means that the Wanderers were given a week’s rest while Newcastle won in a thriller at home against their arch rivals. The Jets will be relieved to finally get a win on the board and should be optimistic that they can stun the Wanderers away. However, I think Western Sydney will come out firing and wrap this match with ease.
Sunday’s solitary game features Western United, who sat out derby round with the bye, hosting Brisbane in a game that has significant ramifications on finals football this season.
I am yet to see something that fills me with confidence in Western United. They’ve been just ‘meh’ most weeks and any time they nearly showed sparks of something brilliant they’ve thrown it away a week later. Brisbane have been inconsistent, but at least they’ve been on an upward trajectory, which should be filling the Roar faithful with some hope.
These two will play out a draw in Ballarat and it will be dull.
|Round 19||Mike||Stuart||Paul||Tom||The Crowd|
|ADL vs CCM||ADL||ADL||ADL||ADL||ADL|
|WEL vs MCY||WEL||WEL||Draw||MCY||WEL|
|WSW vs NEW||Draw||NEW||WSW||WSW||WSW|
|WUN vs BRI||BRI||BRI||BRI||Draw||BRI|