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Opinion

A-League Round 20 talking points: Goodwin masterclass, and where are the crowds?

12th March, 2023
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12th March, 2023
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It was another exciting week of football action, with plenty of goals scored in Mudgee on Saturday afternoon and then in the Hunter later that evening, and the struggling Brisbane Roar gave premiers elect Melbourne City a fright earlier today.

Here are your A-League Round 20 talking points.

How far can Goodwin take Reds?

I mentioned last week that it’s been close to seven years since Adelaide United claimed their maiden – and only championship. But on the back of a Craig Goodwin masterclass in the 4-2 victory over Newcastle, it’s looking like the Reds could be the best placed side to challenge Melbourne City for the 2022-23 crown. If Goodwin stays fit, they are a better shout than the inconsistent Mariners and Western Sydney, who can’t buy a goal most weeks.

And speaking of inconsistency, you can put a line through any side outside the top four. They won’t be making any noise in the finals.

Carl Veart also has a pretty exciting ace up his sleeve in Nestor Irankunda. The 17-year-old’s cameos off the bench are getting more tantalising by the week – he once again showcased his pace before firing a rocket past Jack Duncan for Adelaide’s fourth, and had the goalkeeper beaten late on, only to be denied by the woodwork.

Nestory Irankunda of Adelaide United and Scott Robert Galloway of Melbourne City during the round 19 A-League Men's match between Adelaide United and Melbourne City at Coopers Stadium, on March 03, 2023, in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images)

Veart tempered the excitement in the post-match press conference, but I’m sure he knows how little opposition teams will be looking forward to Nestor coming on at half-time or for the final third to terrorise their defence. He’s got incredible pace and athleticism – adding consistent goal-scoring to the mix will see him earn a move overseas sooner rather than later.

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Where are the crowds?

Ask the average A-League fan whether or not they think the standard of play has been good this season, and you’re very unlikely to hear a negative response. Just look at this weekend’s five matches and the quality of goals, defending and goalkeeping heroics around the grounds. That’s why it’s so puzzling that the crowds are nowhere to be seen.

The average for the round is 5888 so far, with Victory still to host Western United on Monday evening.

It should be noted that the Central Coast “hosted” Macarthur in Mudgee, with the awful crowd figure of 1408 skewing the average, but even a Gosford crowd wouldn’t have moved the needle much.

The season average stands at 7351, which is actually probably higher than I expected, however it’s still nothing to write home about. There are outliers on both sides of the ledger, but there’s just no escaping how farcical some of Western United and Macarthur’s crowds have been.

Of course, by this stage of the season any clear air the league might’ve had in column inches and on-air time has now been swallowed up by the behemoths that are the NRL and AFL, and even Super Rugby is attracting some media attention.

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Stench of Melbourne Derby shame will linger for some time

Earlier this week, a Sydney Morning Herald columnist took aim at our great game, drawing a comparison between the murderous Saudi Arabian regime and A-League fans. The journalist’s pathetic attempt at passing it off as “humour” on Twitter aside, it was another unfortunate reminder that reporters from other codes – and even those who don’t focus on sport – will take any opportunity to stick the boot in.

It’s difficult to quantify the damage done by 100 or so criminals on that fateful night at AAMI Park, but it’s safe to say we will be feeling the effects for quite a while. Some fans will be so disenchanted that they may never come back; parents could, understandably, be frightful of taking young children along to the football.

The only thing law abiding fans – 99.9 per cent of A-League supporters – can do is to continue to support their team. In doing so, hopefully the general public will be eventually reminded that we’ve got players worth paying to go see, and that there’s nothing for spectators to be afraid of.

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