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What happened? A-League Round 23

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Roar Guru
15th March, 2020
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Considering everything else going on in the world, it’s a credit to the players that this weekend’s football was of a generally high standard.

It’s rare to say a team that lost their ninth game in a row played good football, but the Central Coast Mariners proved that statistical theory wrong, playing decently.

When the final score is nil-all it’s unlikely the game was entertaining, but that wasn’t the case in the match between Sydney FC and the Perth Glory.

Melbourne City probably gave up any remote chance they had of winning the premiers plate, while Western Sydney Wanderers could have used all three points to make the top six and feature in the final series.

Wellington Phoenix made it look easy, forming good combinations in what will be their final home game of the current A-League season played in New Zealand.

Newcastle Jets were clinical in the final third despite being outplayed for the first half-hour of the game.

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Who was a stand-out?
It was a tough decision to pick one player, but Steven Ugarkovic made it easy, controlling the game for Newcastle in the middle of the park and scoring a freakish goal.

Biggest impact off the bench
Alex Rufer proved he should be given the opportunity to be in the starting line-up the next time the Phoenix play as Cameron Devlin will be suspended. Rufer passed the ball 21 times at 90.5 per cent accuracy in just over half an hour.

Team with the bye
Western United

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Brisbane Roar (1) vs Central Coast Mariners (0)

Brisbane Roar survive

Magic moment
Daniel De Silva had a shot brilliantly saved by Jamie Young in the 29th minute.

Who stood out from the pack?
Ruon Tongyik played a good game. It’s fair to say Central Coast Mariners would have lost by more if not for Tongyik in their starting line-up.

What went right?
Chris Harold had a shot well saved by Jamie Young in the 15th minute. Milan Duric had a shot, but it was saved by Jamie Young in the 21st minute. Ruon Tongyik made a good tackle on Bradden Inman near the midway point of the first half. Chris Harold headed the ball well but straight at Jamie Young in the 27th minute. Ziggy Gordon did well to prevent a Brisbane Roar attack coming to anything in the 30th minute. Bradden Inman had a shot blocked by Milan Duric in the 36th minute. Aiden O’Neill was prevented from scoring due to a super save by Mark Birghitti in the 39th minute.

What went wrong?
Scott McDonald had a chance to score in the 43rd minute but shot straight at Mark Birghitti. Central Coast Mariners were completely outplayed at the start of the second half. Michael McGlinchey played a dangerous cross in the 83rd minute but to no avail.

Facts and figures
The cooler weather conditions should have made it easier to play free-flowing football for the players.

There were no changes for Brisbane Roar, while Ruon Tongyik and Jordan Murray came into the starting line up as the two changes for the Central Coast Mariners.

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The game ebbed and flowed early. Scott McDonald scored in first-half stoppage time thanks to VAR overturning an offside for Brisbane, with Bradden Inman providing the assist. Inman was originally deemed to be offside.

Roy O'Donovan

(AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Sydney FC (0) vs Perth Glory (0)

Who says nil-all games are boring?

Magic moments
Milos Ninkovic helped Sydney FC maintain possession in the 60th minute with a piece of genius. Ninkovic had a one-on-one chance that Liam Reddy did superbly to save in the 86th minute. Milos Ninkovic set up what should have been a goal to Trent Buhargar in second-half stoppage time.

Who stood out from the pack?
Luke Brattan had an outstanding game, playing some exquisite passes.

What went right?
Alex Grant prevented a chance to score for Kosta Barbarouses in the tenth minute. Joel Chianese had a good opportunity to score stopped by Ryan McGowan in the 13th minute. Tomislav Mrcela prevented a goal for Kosta Barbarouses in the 16th minute. Liam Reddy made a fantastic save from an Anthony Caceres shot in the 18th minute. Luke Brattan provided an outstanding switch of play to Joel King in the 21st minute. Neil Kilkenny made a bad mistake, as he allowed Luke Brattan what appeared to be a goal in the 23rd minute, but unfortunately Brattan’s goal was overturned by the VAR due to what was deemed to be a handball by Brattan.

Luke Brattan had a long shot well saved by Liam Reddy in the 71st minute. Bruno Fornaroli had a shot brilliantly saved by Andrew Redmayne in the 74th minute.

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What went wrong?
Ivan Franjic should have set up a goal from the right hand side in the 40th minute. Rhyan Grant should have scored in the 41st minute from a Luke Brattan free kick. Diego Castro missed an opportunity in the 44th minute.

Bruno Fornaroli could have scored from a header in the 56th minute. Anthony Cacerers shot over the bar in the 58th minute. Paulo Retre just missed a chance from distance in the 81st minute. Adam Le Fondre didn’t take a chance in the 85th minute.

Facts and figures
Sydney FC didn’t make any changes from their Round 22 team, while two changes were made for Perth Glory, with Ivan Franjic and Juande back in their starting line-up.

Steve Corica coached his 50th game in the A-League with the highest win per cent, with 32 wins from 50 games. Perth hadn’t lost back-to-back away games with Tony Popovic as coach.

No goals or assists in Perth Glory and Sydney FC’s last 13 games for Diego Castro. Tomislav Mrcela justifiably received a yellow card in the 90th minute.

Sydney FC coach Steve Corica

(AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

Melbourne City (1) vs Western Sydney Wanderers (1)

It’s rare to say a draw is fair

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Magic moment
Tate Russell scored his first A-League goal in the 21st minute thanks to a great switch of play by Mitchell Duke.

Who stood out from the pack?
Nathaniel Atkinson never stopped working. He made many marauding runs down the right-hand side.

What went right?
Mitchell Duke had a header well saved by Tom Glover in the 78th minute. Harrison Delbridge prevented a goal being scored in the 87th minute.

What went wrong?
Lachlan Wales missed two chances to score in the opening 25 minutes. Nicolai Muller should have passed it to Mitchell Duke in the 65th minute but didn’t. Simon Cox didn’t score in the 69th minute, somehow due to Curtis Good saving it. Tate Russell could have scored in the 77th minute. Craig Noone failed to score with a header in the 82nd minute. Nathaniel Atkinson had a shot from distance well saved by Daniel Lopar straight after Craig Noone was deemed to be fouled by Tate Russell in the penalty area in the 28th minute.

Facts and figures
Three changes were made to the Western Sydney Wanderers line-up from Round 22, with Tass Mourdokoutis, Jordan O’Doherty and Jarrod Carluccio coming into the side, while two changes were made for Melbourne City, with Lachlan Wales and Harrison Delbridge coming in due to Adrian Luna and Rostyn Griffiths being suspended. Pirmin Schwegler will miss the next match as he received his eighth yellow card of the season.

Jamie Maclaren scored from the penalty spot in the 30th minute. The goal was Maclaren’s 20th goal in his 27th game for Melbourne City.

Nathaniel Atkinson

(Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Wellington Phoenix (3) vs Melbourne Victory (0)

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Phoenix play fluent football in one-sided affair

Magic moments
Liberato Cacace provided a cross for an unbelievable flick header by Gary Hooper in the 21st minute. It was one of the goals of the season and Hooper’s sixth goal of 2019-20.

David Ball scored an outstanding goal in the 55th minute thanks to a great long ball from Gary Hooper due to Marco Rojas missing a header at the other end of the field.

Who stood out from the pack?
Tim Payne played an outstanding game, making many marauding runs forward.

What went right?
Tim Payne created a chance that Rene Piscopo headed to Ulises Davilla, who scored in the third minute. Stefan Marinovic prevented Marco Rojas from scoring in the 13th minute by leaving the penalty area. Marco Rojas had a shot well saved by Stefan Marinovic in the 28th minute.

Liberato Cacace had a good chance to score as a result of an Andrew Nabbout turnover in the 50th minute, but Lawrence Thomas made a decent save. Elvis Kamsoba was prevented from scoring due to Steven Taylor blocking the shot in the 60th minute. James Donachie had a chance to cross curtailed by Stefan Marinovic in the 70th minute.

What went wrong?
Andrew Nabbout should have scored in the 11th minute. Marco Rojas should have scored in the 35th minute. Rene Piscopo shot a free kick straight at Lawrence Thomas in the 58th minute.

Facts and figures
Wellington Phoenix were unchanged from their Round 22 game, while Melbourne Victory made a number of changes.

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The Phoenix have now scored the first goal 12 times this season. They used the flanks well early in the game. Cameron Devlin received his fifth yellow card, meaning he will serve a one-game suspension.

Melbourne Victory scored in the 73rd minute through Ola Toivonen, VAR overturned it due to him being ruled to be offside.

Ulises Davila.

(Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

Adelaide United (0) vs Newcastle Jets (3)

Jets fly high leaving Reds red faced

Magic moment
Bobby Burns provided a great cross for a superb goal by Steven Ugarkovic in the 54th minute. The goal was Ugarkovic’s third goal of the season.

Who stood out from the pack?
Steven Ugarkovic’s goal with a flying header sums up his current mindset as he is an unwavering belief in himself and the role that he plays within the team.

What went right?
Roy O’Donovan scored his third in three games in the 41st minute thanks to a great cross by Dimitri Petratos.

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Matthew Millar scored a quality goal, chipping the ball over Paul Izzo thanks to a superb pass from Nigel Boogaard in the 51st minute.

What went wrong?
Adelaide United should have scored in the 65th minute thanks to a great cross from Mohamed Toure, but that sums up their present predicament.

Facts and figures
Ryan Kitto and Mirko Boland came back into the starting line up. Wes Hoolahan made his first start in the A-League. The game was the 85th consecutive game for Steven Ugarkovic. This game was the seventh time this season Adelaide have conceded three or more goals. The game was Adelaide United’s fourth loss in a row.