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The Roar's A-League Men tips and predictions: Round 18

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21st February, 2024
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Texi Smith goes BANG in the Roar’s A-League tips and predictions, clocking up six from seven in a week of relatively predictable results.

Battlers Brisbane and Western United begin Round 18 on Friday night up north, before the Sky Blues meet the other Sky Blues in what looms as a cracker at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday. Crucial points are on offer between the Reds and the Wanderers in Adelaide later that evening and Perth will look to remain unbeaten in six when they host the ladder leading Phoenix in the west.

The Jets need three points against Macarthur on Sunday to loom back into finals contention and a belter between the Victory and Mariners will take place at the same time at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

David Williams of Perth Glory celebrates after scoring

David Williams of Perth Glory celebrates after scoring. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

Good luck with your tips for the round and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say in the Roar of the Crowd. Here is the way the tightly locked panel sees all the Round 18 action unfolding.

Texi Smith

Brisbane, City, Western Sydney, Wellington, Newcastle, Victory

Two teams that let good positions slip out of their grasp last week meet at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night to kick off an intriguing round of football.

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Brisbane Roar vs Western United doesn’t often stir the emotions, but with the league’s basement team coughing up two late goals midweek and Brisbane having led in Perth, there will be some wrongs to right from both sides.

For all the pressure by the visitors on the flaky Brisbane defence, they are left with their hands on their hips as the home team break the deadlock with the softest of penalties, Jay O’Shea converting, and the Friday night party gets into full swing just before full time when Marco Rojas smashes home from the edge of the area on the counter attack to steal all three points in the most unjust of results. Welcome to the weekend.

Sydney FC against Melbourne City sees the Cove assemble early again as a healthy youthful crowd descends on the patchwork surface of Allianz Stadium for a big test. The homecoming of Callum Talbot and Marco Tilio could be crucial but the in-form Sydney FC are continuing their late march up the table and will be firing from the off.

Melbourne Victory’s Zinedine Machach celebrates with Bruno Fornaroli. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images)

Another Sydney old boy Terry Antonis loves a big occasion at Allianz Stadium, and he will be thrust into the action to spur his team on. The delicious forward line of City will be unstoppable though, and for all the plaudits around the solid Sydney defence recently, they will be given a torrid time.

Slick one-touch passing and direct through balls will have the result sewn up at the break with a hat-trick from Jamie Maclaren. Shocked into action in the second half, Sydney will reduce the arrears, Joe Lolley with another thunderbolt, but the night belongs to City.

Another bad result for Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night in the marquee game of the round could spell trouble for coach Marko Rudan. The slide down the table has been alarming, and they face another faltering team in Adelaide United.

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Coopers Stadium on a Saturday night is an intimidating atmosphere too, but if the visitors can channel that energy they can and will come up with a result. Cue Nicolas Milanovic, the spaghetti-legged wing wizard, who will carve up the Adelaide defence, laying on two goals before half-time, Brandon Borrello and Lachie Brook the scorers. Adelaide dominate possession but cannot get through the Wanderers rearguard; the Wanderers with a successful robbery and a wink at their Sydney rivals ahead of next week’s showdown.

Sydney FC players celebrate an unexpected win over Adelaide United. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

The conclusion of a super Saturday is Perth Glory at home to Wellington Phoenix, perhaps the final distance derby before Auckland enters the fray next season, and the kick off time is literally in the middle of the night for the New Zealanders.

Glory ground out a victory against Brisbane Roar last weekend and by all accounts the crowd was at fever pitch. Expect the same for the visit of the league leaders, but don’t expect Phoenix to be quite so generous. Indeed, the visitors will scramble well to keep Adam Taggart and Stefan Colakovski quiet, and their patience in an ultra-defensive display will be a breakaway on the hour that sees Ben Old race the length of the field to tee up Kosta Barbarouses with a classic counter attack.

The visitors add a second as Glory go hunting for the equaliser late on. Is the premiership off to New Zealand? Now that would be peak A-League.

The scheduling Gods have not been kind as two games kick off simultaneously late on Sunday afternoon. An expensive toll-heavy trip up north awaits Macarthur FC as they travel to Newcastle to face the Jets.

The visitors had their noses put out of joint last weekend after a good run of form, that penalty was as soft as they come, whereas today’s hosts are struggling to pick up points, being the first team to lose to bottom team Western United in two months when they met last Friday.

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David Ball of the Phoenix and Ali Auglah of the Bulls compete for the ball during the A-League Men round eight match between Macarthur FC and Wellington Phoenix at Campbelltown Stadium, on December 18, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Wellington’s David Ball and Macarthur’s Ali Auglah compete for the ball. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The money will be on Macarthur FC to resume their form, but Sunday afternoons at McDonald Jones Stadium are often sprinkled with magic dust. Apostolos Stamatelopolous scores on the half-hour with a looping header after the Jets weather the early storm, Trent Buhagiar adds one just after half-time and Daniel Stynes weaves his way through for a wonder goal for the pièce de resistance to complete a stunning victory for the home side.

We all secretly acknowledge Melbourne Victory vs Central Coast Mariners is the game of the round, but the clash with the Jets vs Bulls game and the late Sunday afternoon timeslot means it might fly under the radar. Victory brought on the cavalry to sneak the win on Tuesday night, while the Mariners held firm to win by the most slender of margins with a fortuitous penalty.

Neither team lays claim to devastating form of late and that’s the recipe for another majestic A-League spectacle, a heavyweight slog-fest where two teams go for goal from the opening whistle.

Victory snatch the lead with a Zinedine Machach solo effort, Chris Ikonomidis makes it two with an hour gone, but an own goal from Connor Chapman makes for a very nervy finish as Paul Izzo’s goal leads a charmed life. Ryan Edmondson somehow finds a challenger for miss of the season as the Mariners pile on the pressure at the end. Victory and Mariners trade places as Wellington Phoenix continue to march to the title.

Dylan Pierias of the Wanderers celebrates a goal with fans. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Stuart Thomas

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United, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Macarthur, Victory

Somehow I’ve moved from first to last in the Roar tipping and I’m not too happy about it. Time to respond.

I promised to never tip Brisbane again this season and despite Western United continuing to appear jinxed, I’ll stand by the commitment. Two wins from three for Western as they crawl towards respectability. I’m tipping Sydney to beat City simply because the team is looking as good as it has all year, the fans are fronting up and Ufuk Talay will be competing in finals this season.

Adelaide and Western Sydney is a bit of a stab in the dark for me. I’ve no idea. Perhaps Adelaide make one last stand at home as the season threatens to slip away? Dare I pick Perth to topple the ladder leader? Yeah, why not. HBF will be rocking and the momentum is with them. The upset of the week.

Macarthur continue to be a better team than most believe and should towel up the Jets in the Hunter, with the weekend rounding out as Victory shock the Mariners with a win at AAMI Park. Simply, Central Coast are due a loss.

Andrew Prentice

Brisbane, Sydney, Draw, Wellington, Macarthur, Draw

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The term “Peak A-League” gets mentioned a lot in a self-deprecating way when discussing the competition we all love. But Western United have surely redefined the use of the term. Take their Brazilian midfield star and best player (when he can be bothered) Daniel Penha limping off AAMI Park on Tuesday after injuring his ankle.

Western United’s Daniel Penha contests the ball with Aziz Behich of Melbourne City. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

He did it celebrating a goal. Given the season they’re having, a round of handshakes and a quick jog back to halfway should have sufficed rather than attempting to balance on the advertising hoardings in football boots? That they then conceded twice in added time to lose the game must have had coach John Aloisi reaching for his phone contacts to see how his brother is doing in China.

Brisbane were outscored by Perth last week and need much more from Jay O’Shea to get over the improving Western. He seems to enjoy the Suncorp surrounds. The Roar to win.

Sydney FC avenged their Unite Round loss to Adelaide with a comfortable victory last week. City showed a more organised defensive display in the derby but are sorely missing the attacking prowess of Tolgay Arslan. The requisite parts don’t seem to be moving properly yet for Aurelio Vidmar.

Not the case for the Sky Blues, as Anthony Caceras is enjoying a more attacking role in a front four that seem capable of scoring against anyone, as long as Fabio shoots straight. City will find it harder to keep out the Sky Blues than they did the Navy Blues and may well be singing the blues at the end of Saturday’s encounter.

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Two teams desperate for a result square off at Hindmarsh. A rare moment for Australian football, with two games being shown on Network TV consecutively (I suspect the Matildas game will probably draw more eyeballs). Carl Veart and Jean-Paul de Marigny will be focused on arresting the results slump which has seen both sides tumble down the ladder after having excellent starts to the season.

Sydney FC players celebrate a goal. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The Wanderers will be without striker Marcus Antonsson, who limped out of the game against the Mariners, the victim of a Jacob Farrell challenge that didn’t do anything to assuage the siege mentality gripping the club. A point for Western Sydney would see them retain their top six position. I suspect they’d take that.

What a cracking game in prospect in Perth on Saturday night. The top team against the league’s top scorers, hopefully more stable with new owners. There have been an amazing 73 goals scored in the 17 Perth games this season. It remains to be seen whether the Phoenix will have Bozhidar Kraev in their line-up. Even if fit, Phoenix coach Giancarlo Italiano reckons he’ll make a surprise appearance at the WWE’s Elimination Chamber show at Optus Stadium.

Maybe he can throw a few suplexes to warm up and be back at HBF Park by kick-off. The two sides played a thriller in Unite Round with Wellington winning 4-3. A repeat could be on the cards here, with a few less goals.

The Jets were grounded against Western United last week. They simply never got going. They might hope to take advantage of Macarthur’s involvement in the AFC Cup Zonal Final three days prior to this McDonald Jones Stadium clash. However, the Bulls have made a habit of bouncing back from their AFC Cup games all season.

Angel Torres of the Mariners celebrates a goal

Angel Torres of the Central Coast Mariners celebrates a goal. (Photo by Kelly Barnes/Getty Images)

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They have the firepower to trouble a Jets defence that has managed only one clean sheet in 11 rounds. These are two sides with a habit of scoring late goals, so we could expect some injury-time drama with the Bulls escaping with the points.

Given both sides have played midweek, there might be a little less sting in the AAMI Park clash than we’d normally expect from the teams lying second and third. The Mariners will be sweating on the fitness of Angel Torres, who missed last week’s game with a groin injury.

Victory were back on the draw bandwagon against City before performing a great escape against Western, to register their first win since Round 11. A lot depends on how the Mariners pull up after their AFC Cup Zone final against Macarthur.

The two sides are evenly matched at both ends of the park. Jacob Farrell’s suspension will not help the Mariners because as he has been incredibly effective down the flanks all season. There is no truth to he rumour that should this game end all square, the Victory will be renamed the Melbourne Draw in time for next week. But I think it WILL end all-square.

Here’s the latest scores and as always, use the form below to get involved as part of The Crowd and take on The Roar’s expert tipsters.

Matchday 18TexiStuartAndrewThe Crowd
BRI vs WUNBRIWUNBRI?
SYD vs MCYMCYSYDSYD?
ADL vs WSWWSWADLDRAW?
PER vs WELWELPERWEL?
NEW vs MACNEWMACMAC?
MVC vs CCMMVCMVCDRAW?
Last week6444
Total46454946
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