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The Roar's A-League Men tips and predictions: Round 20

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6th March, 2024
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After a chaotic and sometimes disappointing week in Australian football, A-League Men action begins on Friday night when the Wanderers host Western United at CommBank Stadium.

At the scene of all the drama last weekend, Marko Rudan’s men will need to bounce back quickly after an embarrassing week for the team on the pitch. Yours truly and the crowd fared okay in the tipping last time out, yet it looks another nightmare of a round to analyse and Texi Smith and Andrew Prentice appear ripe for the picking as we move deeper into the season.

Melbourne City play host to Wellington in a Saturday night barnstormer, Adelaide and Victory meet in the latest edition of the Original Rivalry and Perth and Newcastle meet in a match both simply must win.

Sydney welcome last start winner Brisbane on Sunday in the twilight and the round ends with a ripper between the Bulls and the Mariners in Sydney, where the hosts can make a serious statement should they win.

Tuesday’s ‘bonus’ match features City and Western Sydney in Melbourne and could well be the pick of the bunch.

Good luck with your tips for the round and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say as the voice of the people. Here is the way the panel sees all the action unfolding in Round 20.

Marco Rojas celebrates a goal against Victory

Brisbane’s Marco Rojas celebrates a goal against Melbourne Victory. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Texi Smith


Western Sydney, City, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, Central Coast, City

Smarting from a home defeat to their arch rivals and with a fan base that has lost all faith in stadium management, it is good timing that Western Sydney Wanderers go straight back to Commbank Stadium to right the wrongs of last week’s debacle.

In front of them are cannon-fodder Western United, a team who are chipping away at the deficit at the bottom of the table.

John Aloisi will batten down the hatches for an onslaught; Dylan Pierias recalled to the starting line-up to deliver the blows in the first half, scoring and setting up Brandon Borrello, and it is only when Daniel Penha is introduced that the visitors look remotely dangerous, a goal midway through the second half making it a nervous and heart-stopping last 20 minutes for the home team.

The game of the round for me is at AAMI Park, with reigning premiers Melbourne City at home to the pretenders to the throne in Wellington Phoenix. City were awful at Macarthur on Friday night, but still could have got something on the drenched Campbelltown Stadium surface if it wasn’t for Filip Kurto.

Phoenix had a smashing day at home against Adelaide but were left sweating in the dying moments after bossing the game. With an early breakaway goal from Kosta Barbarouses, it will look like another smash and grab by the visitors, but a rocket from Steven Ugarkovic will have City level at the break.

Nestory Irankunda of Adelaide United celebrates scoring a goal

Nestory Irankunda of Adelaide United celebrates a goal. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The pattern of City domination and Phoenix lightning on the break is what the fans came to see, but this time it’s Terry Antonis who leads a surprise counter for the home side, and he beats three players on a mesmerising run to slot home a wonder goal for the winner. All of a sudden the title race is back on.

The Original Rivalry returns to Coopers Stadium, and the presence of travelling Melbourne Victory fans will make for a cracking atmosphere as Adelaide United look to kick start their season.

After looking so good early, the Reds have slid all the way down to tenth in the league and are on a wretched run. It will only take one game for them to snap out of it – and Saturday night will be that game.

Victory’s own form has seen them ease off the pressure at the top, and defeat in Brisbane last week was tough to take. Zinedine Machach continues to shine and will give another all-action display, but the introduction of Nestory Irankunda will bring a much-needed X-factor to the home team, and their second-half showing will be sparkling.

Hiroshi Ibusuki with a towering header for the first and Giuseppe Bovalina with a thunderbolt to secure the points at the end. What a way to start the recovery, and Adelaide move back in the right direction with a great win against their rivals.

Perth Glory love a Saturday night game, and following last week’s demise at Western United, a game that they should have won, they will be keen to make amends in the cauldron of HBF Park.

GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 03: Storm Roux of the Mariners competes for the ball with Nishan Velupillay of Melbourne Victory during the A-League Men round six match between Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory at Industree Group Stadium, on December 03, 2023, in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Scott Gardiner/Getty Images)

Central Coast’s Storm Roux competes for the ball with Victory’s Nishan Velupillay. (Photo by Scott Gardiner/Getty Images)

Jason Hoffman’s early red card won’t help Newcastle though, and the terrible twins of Stefan Colakovski and Adam Taggart will run riot, scoring either side of half-time, with a late David Williams goal on the break as a finishing touch to a fine performance to rekindle distant hopes of finals football, or at least an avoidance of an Australia Cup play-off berth.

Sydney FC take on Brisbane Roar on Sunday in an unusual timeslot for the Sky Blues, and they will look out-of-sorts against a fizzing Roar side buoyed by their triumph against Victory last week. Jay O’Shea will pull the strings in midfield, the home team resisting the temptation to bring captain Luke Brattan straight back in to a winning midfield.

A frustrating evening for the home side becomes even moreso when Tom Waddingham taps home Nikola Mileusnic’s cross early in the second half. A reshuffle from Sydney then swings the momentum, Jaiden Kucharski smashing home on the hour, and the game is one-sided for the remainder, Nathan Amanatidis with a low shot and Joe Lolley with a left-foot curler rescuing the three points for a surprisingly underwhelming Sydney FC.

Say what you like about Macarthur, they keep on getting results. The Central Coast Mariners are in town for a rematch of their AFC Cup battle and anything can happen, especially with Christian Theoharous recalled to the side and looking for trouble.

It is the tricky winger’s persistence that brings an early goal for the visitors before serial grump Valere Germain pounces for a poacher’s goal just before the break. As the home team turn the screw, they take their eye off their defensive duties for a split second and Angel Torres races the length of the field to slide home a Ryan Edmondson cross to break the home fans’ hearts.

The Mariners at the top of the table. Season 23/24 just keeps on giving.

Miguel Di Pizio of the Mariners with the ball against Western United

Miguel Di Pizio of the Central Coast Mariners. (Photo by Scott Gardiner/Getty Images)

Midweek action is back and it’s a big one. Two teams battling to maintain their top six aspirations, and neither showing any consistency whatsoever. Melbourne City’s win against the Phoenix should see them come out roaring against Western Sydney Wanderers, but the visitors have character on the road, away from their delusional fans and the pressure of Commbank Stadium, and have been known to strike when the chips are down.

However, tonight is not the night for the red and black, and City move into another gear as Tolgay Arslan stars, Andrew Nabbout returns to goal scoring form and Alessandro Lopane gives us a wonder-goal in a four-goal pasting for Marko Rudan’s beleaguered men. Marcelo’s late send-off compounds the agony for the visitors, and City close the gap on the top six with an important win.

Stuart Thomas

Western United, Wellington, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, Macarthur, City

The Wanderers are wobbling their way out of finals contention and with a small crowd in attendance, John Aloisi’s men will produce the smash and grab on Friday night in Sydney. It is almost impossible to tip against Wellington, they appear grand final bound and even on the road against a once great team, they should get the three points.

I’ll give Adelaide one more chance before I ditch them for the season. Surely the wasteful Victory can be towelled up at Hindmarsh? Perth still have plenty to play for a win against Newcastle could see them loom as a danger team to those thinking of finals at the bottom of the top six.


Sydney FC look unstoppable right now, especially at home, and they should be again when Brisbane head to Sydney in a match that could have had little interest around it a few months back. I know, I’m crazy, but I’m still tipping the Bulls to knock off the Mariners in Sydney on Sunday and Melbourne City to right the ship somewhat on Tuesday when they and the Wanderers back up in Melbourne.

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Mark Rudan gestures from the sideline

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Marko Rudan gestures from the sideline. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Andrew Prentice

Western Sydney, Wellington, Draw, Perth, Sydney, Macarthur, City

It’s almost an A League meme. A top-notch round of football with goals and drama and close results (in the main), unpredictability and attacking intent. But all we get to talk about is alleged police harassment of fans, and active support walkouts.

If the RBB don’t show up for the Wanderers clash with an improving Western United, it’ll be a funereal atmosphere in CommBank Stadium on Friday night. The Wanderers need all the support they can get after being pressed to death by Sydney FC last week. Rarely does the Marko Rudan coached side play badly twice in a row, but there does seem to be a siege mentality gripping Wanderland, and it’s threatening to derail what was shaping up as an excellent season.

I’m not convinced by Western’s revival, but they were very impressive against Perth. To keep the Glory not only scoreless but without a shot on target is a feat no other side has managed. Rudan will be extra keen to get a win over his former side, and I think they’ll manage it by the odd goal.


Melbourne City are in danger of missing the finals since becoming Melbourne City. Wellington Phoenix are in danger of winning their first trophy since becoming Wellington Phoenix. This weekend could define them both.

Bohzidar Kraev should have had a hat trick last week in his unfamiliar role of leading the line. It might be time for Oskar Zawada to reclaim the forward role from the start. City outpossessed and outshot Macarthur last week with nothing to show for it. Wellington won’t mind ceding the bulk of the possession to City and have options on the break. City will be desperate to stay in touch with the top six but this isn’t the side you want to desperately play. The Phoenix are on a roll.

Sydney FC celebrate a goal against Brisbane Roar. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

The Original Rivalry always seems to produce a cracking game, but these are two sides sadly out of form. Adelaide have to go back to Unite Round for their last win, and Victory have only lived up to their moniker once since Round 11, with a thick slathering of draws among them.

Bruno Fornaroli has not scored since returning from the Asian Cup, but the service to him last week was akin to the service from the Centrelink hotline when they owe you money (or probably even when they don’t). If Victory can improve their final passes, they’ll cause Adelaide headaches. I’m going for a draw because both sides are adept at them, and look as shaky as an earthquake zone trying to protect a lead.

The Glory haven’t scored in two games. Quick, send in the troops! Unthinkable a fortnight ago, the free-scoring Perth have lost their radar. The Jets improved defensively against their F3 neighbours but couldn’t keep them out for the whole game and succumbed 1-0. The stats tell you the goals will return to HBF Park, with the two number nines (Messrs Taggert and Stamatelopoulos) eager to break mini-droughts.

The Sky Blues are in ominous form after a stuttering first half of the season. They were out of sight by early in the second half in the Sydney derby and will relish the visit of the inconsistent Roar. Jay O’Shea came off the bench last week and if that was fitness-related, his elevation to the starting line-up will help the Roar in what they will expect to be a high-press-a-palooza at Allianz Stadium. Sydney could go as high as third with a win on Sunday afternoon, unthinkable two months ago. They look to have too much firepower for Brisbane.


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

The curious sub-plot to the Mariners dramatic AFC Cup win over Macarthur two weeks ago is played out on Sunday at the same venue. Macarthur will be fresh and raring for revenge, while the Mariners will have played Odisha FC in the Inter-Zone semi final three days prior and will surely be leg-weary after their schedule.

Macarthur are the side to take advantage of that, with hard-running wide players, a compact midfield led by evergreen Ulises Davila, and a defence marshalled by Filip Kurto, who was brilliant against Melbourne City. I’m tipping a rare Mariners loss here, which will tighten up the top three significantly.

Tuesday night’s bonus game serves as a chance for City to get back on home turf for the first time since the Melbourne derby. While their form has been patchy, at some point they’ll click. It’d be hard not to with the attacking weapons at their disposal including a virtual Socceroo front four, should Aurelio Vidmar choose to play them all.

Tolgay Arslan may have shaken off the cobwebs of his suspension by next Tuesday. The Wanderers will want to handle their business on the field, lest the off-field distractions seep into the team fabric. Brandon Borello is regaining the sharpness that made him a smash hit before his injury. Midweek Melbourne games seem to favour the hosts, so that’s what I’m tipping.

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.

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