It’s great to have the A-League back. In Round 1 we saw some new signings, new coaches and players ready to make an impact in the new season. Check out my choice of player from each team who made a difference.
Zach Clough helped Adelaide United control the tempo of the game when the game was in the balance. Clough showed his experience as he was instrumental in the opening two goals; the first goal was due to an incisive pass from him to Hiroshi Ibusuki, who provided the assist for Ben Halloran. Adelaide United’s second was cooly put into the back of the net by Clough from the penalty spot. His post-match interview gave a good insight into the way he approached the game; “I played with freedom. In preseason I’ve been working hard.”
Zach Clough celebrates a goal. (Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images)
Central Coast Mariners
Danny Vukovic saved Central Coast Mariners from an annihilation, making some freakish saves. It was inspirational the way Vukovic kept the scoreboard respectable; he made ten saves, the majority of which were extremely difficult and there was nothing he could do about the three goals the Mariners conceded. Remarkably, eight of the ten saves Vukovic made came inside the box. He summed the match up well from their perspective; “Gave away too many chances. Back to the drawing board for us. I’m still gutted about conceding three.”
Macarthur FC (1) v Brisbane Roar (1)
Clayton Lewis began his stint at Macarthur FC with a solid display. He was the catalyst for his team taking the lead as he provided the assist for the goal scored by Raphael Borges Rodrigues. Lewis passed the ball around exquisitely and helped Macarthur FC stay in the game and claim a draw that was probably deserved.
Jay O’Shea put in a great shift, which is what we’ve come to expect of him. He had a remarkable 111 touches of the ball and was rewarded when he scored the equaliser from a set piece in the 73rd minute from a free kick. Along with that, he created five chances and finished the game with 16 passes in the final third. It’s a pity there was no one from the Brisbane Roar who was clinical enough to finish, but wasn’t through lack of trying from O’Shea.
(Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)
Melbourne City (1) v Western United (2)
Tolgay Arslan performed admirably for Melbourne City as he did everything in his power to get his team a result. He provided the equaliser with a sublime finish in the 62nd minute only two minutes after Lachlan Wales from Western United broke the deadlock in the 60th minute. Arslan was arguably the best player on the pitch, despite being on the wrong end of the result, because he created three chances and made eight passes into the final third and scored the best of the three goals in the game. He showed his class in the post-match interview; “Our goal is still the same, we want to win the league. Congratulations to Western. It’s a hard league, it’s tough. I believe we’re going to have a successful season.”
Thomas Heward-Belle was outstanding in his first game as goalkeeper for Western United. He made some pivotal saves; two of which came in the 50th minute, one of which was a spectacular save from Jamie Maclaren. He made six saves, three of them were diving saves and showed why Western United chose to recruit him to the club as their number one goalkeeper.
Sydney FC (0) v Melbourne Victory (2)
Joe Lolley played a decent game as his endeavour never wavered; he did his utmost to find pockets of space in the middle of the park and tried his best to make an impact in the final third; Lolley finished the game with four shots. Although the end product wasn’t there, Lolley can hold his head up high as he nearly produced magical moments and showed fighting spirit.
Zinedine Machach introduced himself to the A-League in the best way possible by scoring a freakish goal that proved to be the difference, giving Melbourne Victory a 2-nil lead in the 86th minute; he weaved his way past about five Sydney FC defenders and produced a clinical finish, which made the goal a world class one. In his post-match interview he was perceptive; “We are happy, because we have success to do. I am happy, because today I feel good. Melbourne Victory is a big club here.”
Nicolas Milanovic of the Wanderers battles for possession with Finn Surman of the Phoenix. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)
Western Sydney Wanderers (0) v Wellington Phoenix (0)
Western Sydney Wanderers
Nicolas Milanovic put in a good performance for the Western Sydney Wanderers; Milanovic was unlucky he was playing against a goalkeeper who was in top form in Alex Paulsen, as Paulsen denied Milanovic from breaking the deadlock in the sixth minute. The grit, determination, character and execution of his talent was there for all to see, as Milanovic worked tirelessly to score the elusive goal, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. His post-match interview was a great insight; “a bit more fire in the belly this season. We just need goals. If we get goals then we are going to be unstoppable.”
Alex Paulsen was the probably the most influential player on the pitch. It wasn’t just the four quality saves he made, it was the manner in which he commanded his area and his decision making. Paulsen was also good with the ball at his feet and showed that despite the Wellington Phoenix recruiting Jack Duncan, Paulsen should be the number one goalkeeper for the foreseeable future. In his post-match interview it displayed that he still has his feet on the ground; “the back four and up the top did a good job. This game today was a good test for us. I’m always nervous, I always feel nervous before a game.”
Perth Glory (2) v Newcastle Jets (2)
Oliver Bozanic proved what a good leader he is and that he still has what it takes to play at the top level. He was like an on field coach and the conductor of an orchestra. He tracked back to claim possession of the ball at times and ventured further up the field when needed. Bozanic helped Perth Glory control the tempo of the game. He appeared calm and composed and to be settled in Perth; “it’s great to be here, really enjoying the start to my career in Perth. The club is on the up with the new ownership.”
Kosta Grozos was the forefront of the Newcastle Jets leaving Perth with a point as he was responsible for both goals scored by the Jets, with both goals being equalisers. The first goal scored by Grozos was a cracking strike from outside the box, which went into the back of the net in the 14th minute. He also provided the assist for a goal scored in the 92nd minute by Apostolos Stamatelopoulos as Grozos cross was exquisite and got the finished product that it warranted, which ensured the Jets didn’t leave Perth empty handed. He summed his goal up well; “I hit it well and the ball went in.” Along with that he summed up what he wants out of the season; “get as many minutes as I can.”