Well, let’s all exhale and take stock of a hectic round. Victory’s undefeated streak was ended, their crosstown rivals hit rock bottom and plenty more happening across another very busy weekend in this chaotic competition.
Here are your A-League Round 16 talking points.
Quite fitting that a seesawing 3-3 draw bookended Round 16. A double from Jets talisman Apostolos Stamatelopoulos had Newcastle ahead until WSW captain Marcelo again levelled the scores with a powerful header. Both sides certainly had a case that they deserved all three points but in the end it felt like a share of the spoils was a fair result.
Wanderers’ discipline, or lack thereof, is starting to hurt them with four red cards in three games. The argument could be mounted that Tate Russell was hard done by but either way, you can’t have players being sent off every week.
It came as no surprise to anyone that Marko Rudan doubled down on his anti-administration tirade in a midweek press conference. Rudan does have some legitimate gripes – shared by many around the league – about the APL’s processes, but they’re getting lost amid the conspiratorial nature of his accusations.
He was much more reserved after the match on Sunday, but still showcased his trademark stubbornness, revealing he won’t be rolling over after Football Australia issued a show-cause notice to the former centre-back.
Reports of Wanderers owner Paul Lederer abusing referee Shaun Evans post-game are concerning, and it seems the club will be hearing from the authorities again. It always stuns me just how many people are allowed on the field immediately following the final whistle – perhaps it’s something that needs to be looked at.
The last unbeaten streak of 2023-24 came to an end on Saturday afternoon as Macarthur defeated Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park. It was an impressive run Tony Popovic’s side had put together, going 15 matches without a loss. Dropping points from winning positions on multiple occasions has put a decent dent in Victory’s premiership hopes, however, and despite the streak they’ve now dropped down to fourth on the A-League ladder.
Lachie Rose should’ve made it 2-0 with a simple finish after Raphael Borges Rodrigues’s marauding run through multiple Victory defenders but could not convert. Just minutes later Bruno Fornaroli almost levelled the scores when his close-range header hit the top of the crossbar.
In the second half Filip Kurto again denied Fornaroli, from the penalty spot and a one-on-one situation, to preserve the Bulls’ slim advantage. The Socceroo was insistent his spot-kick had crossed the line but with the assistant referee’s view impaired by Kurto’s body, it went upstairs as no goal and the VAR confirmed the on-field decision.
Mile Sterjovski’s team are putting together some excellent results, downing two of the competition’s heavyweights back to back. With talisman and captain Ulises Davila on the park the Bulls would always be a threat, but with contributions coming from across the park they are now looking more formidable.
Rodrigues’s class is shining through, and Valere Germain’s showing he’s one of the premier strikers – and imports – in the league, sitting fourth in the Golden Boot race behind some pretty talented goal-scorers.
I wrote last week that Melbourne City were at a low point in their season, but in hindsight that was clearly premature. With Ruben Zadkovich at the helm Brisbane exacted revenge for an 8-1 humiliation at the hands of City earlier in the season, downing the premiers 5-1 at Suncorp Stadium.
Roar appointing first-time A-League manager Ben Cahn to the top job after Ross Aloisi’s departure was met with a mix of optimism and scepticism. That optimism was tempered when Cahn was forced to step down due to medical reasons but it should be remembered Zadkovich did an admirable job with the vastly under-resourced Glory last season.
If Saturday evening is any indication Zadkovich’s philosophy will result in entertainment when Brisbane are in action. Turning that philosophy into wins and ideally a top-six finish will be another story, but right now it’s hard to begrudge Roar fans some positive vibes in this emotional rollercoaster of a season.
-Pat Wood’s miss in his side’s big road win over the Mariners has unfortunately gone viral. The enterprising forward has been given plenty of chances under Ufuk Talay and works extremely hard, but finishing has always been a weaker point in his game.
-It’s difficult to pin down how good – or bad – Adelaide are. They’re a well-drilled side under Carl Veart but whether it’s the compounding psychological effect of losing star players or something else, they’re playing well under expectations.
-Another solid home win for the Phoenix as they inch closer to their first-ever silverware (unless you count the Pre-Season Cup). Conversely, Western United lie eight points adrift of Perth in 11th place, albeit with a game in hand. John Aloisi’s side are well on track for their first wooden spoon, having lost 11 of 15 games at a truly awful 73 per cent.
-Kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes at Sky Stadium on Saturday because of a kit clash. This coming after Sydney FC’s bus inexplicably drove to the wrong venue in the women’s. You’d have to be a pretty talented comedy writer to conjure this kind of script.