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Football will never get anywhere in Australia until it presents a united front

3rd December, 2023
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3rd December, 2023
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When it rains, it always seems to pour – which is invariably why a couple of key A-League Men fixtures on Friday and Saturday night were adversely affected by wild weather.

There were no such dramas on Sunday, when Bruno Fornaroli wound back the clock with a goal for the ages as Melbourne Victory left Gosford with a point following their 2-2 draw with the Central Coast Mariners.

It was the hosts who went in front when Alou Kuol robbed Victory captain Roderick Miranda before skipping around Paul Izzo and slotting into an empty net.

And they’d have gone into the break a goal to the good had Fornaroli not unleashed a bending, dipping shot from distance that looked goal-bound from the second it left his boot.

It was a moment of magic that left Mariners keeper Danny Vukovic grasping at thin air and led to renewed calls for Socceroos coach Graham Arnold to include the 36-year-old Fornaroli in his Asian Cup squad.

Melbourne Victory’s Bruno Fornaroli celebrates a goal against Sydney FC. (Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)

And while Victory thought they might go on and steal all three points following Nishan Velupillay’s well-taken second-half strike, the Mariners secured a point when Fabian Monge was adjudged to have handled inside the box, allowing Colombian recruit Angel Torres to bag his first A-Leagues goal when he sent Izzo the wrong way from the penalty spot.

There was no such luck up the freeway for long-suffering Newcastle Jets fans, after Marin Jakolis robbed Dane Ingham of possession on the touchline before floating over the sort of cross you dream about hitting down at the park.

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There was no way anyone was going to miss, let alone starting debutant Ben Mazzeo – who had the simple task of nodding Jakolis’ inch-perfect delivery past the stranded Ryan Scott.

It was a similar story in the second half when Jakolis helped tee up a quick breakaway converted by the otherwise anonymous Jamie Maclaren, but the real talking point came 12 minutes from time when Melbourne City keeper Jamie Young body-slammed Archie Goodwin.

Young’s foul on the on-rushing Goodwin, which took place miles outside the penalty area, was as deliberate as it gets.

But some back-tracking defenders meant referee Shane Skinner saw fit to only brandish a yellow card and despite a VAR review, the decision stood.

Jets coach Robbie Stanton was adamant Young should have been sent off – even if a red card was unlikely to have much bearing on the outcome of the match.

At least all the noteworthy action in Sunday’s fixtures happened on the pitch.

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There was no such luck for Brisbane Roar fans on Friday night, with the River City smashed by the season’s first big summer storm just as most fans were trying to make their way to Suncorp Stadium.

The destructive deluge forced kick-off back by almost an hour, but it didn’t seem to bother the home team as Nikola Mileusnic and Jack Hingert – of all players – fired the Roar into an early two-goal lead.

Ross Aloisi will be desperately disappointed that his side failed to hang onto it, as goals from Nicolas Milanovic and a superb Marcus Antonsson header two minutes from time saw the Wanderers snatch a share of the spoils.

And if lightning doesn’t strike twice no one told the A-Leagues, as Sydney FC’s 3-2 win over Perth Glory at Allianz Stadium was similarly delayed by another lengthy summer storm.

Those who turned up amidst the downpours and stuck around watching on TV deserve genuine praise – because we’re a dwindling few.

And football’s place in the sporting ecosystem is no better summed up than by the Queensland government deciding to shell out – yet again – for a temporary oval venue to replace The Gabba, while steadfastly ignoring the round-ball game.

Football’s treatment in the Sunshine State is an ongoing disgrace.

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But then you hear the rumours about the state’s governing body actively preventing National Second Tier entrants from joining the new competition, and it all makes sense.

Football will never get anywhere until the game presents a united front. We all know that.

Sadly, the unrelenting self-interest of our disingenuous administrators means that’s unlikely to ever happen.

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