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Opinion

The A-Leagues must capitalise on the sort of drama only football can provide

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Expert
24th April, 2022
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Central Coast Mariners’ 4-2 win over the Newcastle Jets in a pulsating F3 Derby was precisely the sort of drama the APL needs to start marketing to win back fans next season.

Let’s get the major talking point out of the way first. Was it the correct decision to disallow a goal from Newcastle substitute Savvas Siatravanis in the 82nd minute?

The Jets thought they had come from three goals down to make it 3-3 with less than ten minutes remaining, only for the VAR to inform referee Kurt Ams that another Newcastle substitute in Archie Goodwin had fouled Mariners defender Kye Rowles in the build-up to the goal.

So was it the correct decision? Rowles went down like he’d been shot, but as slight as the contact seemed from Goodwin, it’s hard to deny that his hands were on the defender’s back.

Nick Montgomery
Mariners coach Nick Montgomery. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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Perhaps a more pressing issue is the fact that so many games officiated by Kurt Ams seem to end in chaos.

Much as we should be careful about singling out referees – not least because it’s a position that’s becoming increasingly tough to fill at every level of the game – it does feel a bit like games officiated by Ams are inevitably going to finish with a dismissal or two.

That one of those red cards belonged to Newcastle playmaker Daniel Penha on Saturday night was no huge surprise, with the hot-headed Brazilian eventually receiving his marching orders after elbowing Mariners substitute Harrison Steele in the back of the head.

It leaves Penha facing his second suspension within the space of a few games, and while the Jets would no doubt love to re-sign the fiery playmaker – who has been one Newcastle’s best players this season – we may have seen the last of the former Atletico Mineiro man in the A-League Men.

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But one player we’ll be seeing plenty more of is Mariners striker Garang Kuol. The younger brother of former Mariners and current VfB Stuttgart excitement machine has got bags of talent himself, and his superb half-volley from Beni Nkololo’s flick-on was a goal worthy of winning any game.

 
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So the Mariners march on with finals football still firmly within their grasp, while the Jets miss out for the fourth consecutive campaign.

Adelaide United’s 2-0 win over Perth Glory at Coopers Stadium on Sunday night was perhaps not quite as straightforward as many of us would have expected, but with goals from teenagers Bernardo and Nestory Irankunda – the latter another absolute scorcher – the future looks bright in the South Australian capital.

And with Brisbane Roar hosting Melbourne Victory in an ANZAC Day fixture that was unfortunately postponed at late notice last season, regular A-League Men observers could be forgiven for having to re-familiarise themselves with a few clubs who haven’t exactly received an equal share of the spotlight this season.

Brisbane Roar have had to fight hard to host a regular ANZAC Day clash, and while results haven’t exactly gone to plan this season, it’s at least some consolation for a club that is regularly on the receiving end of some punishing fixture list rescheduling.

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Last season the Roar twice drew close to a full house at Moreton Daily Stadium in their two clashes with Sydney FC. This season they’ll host the Sky Blues just once, on the final day of the season, at 7.05pm on a Tuesday night.

It makes it so difficult to sell tickets in a league that isn’t exactly setting the world on fire when it comes to broadcast audiences either.

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The APL deserve credit for dealing with the extenuating circumstances that kept Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix on the road for long stretches of the season, and being flexible enough to keep the campaign going in the face of frequent COVID-19 postponements.

But they need to get the fixture list right next season, because as Saturday night’s F3 Derby reminded us, it’s a lot more fun talking about what happened on the pitch than incessantly worrying about what’s happening off it.

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