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The Roar's A-League Men tips and predictions: Round 21

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13th March, 2024
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After another tricky week of predictions for A-League Men’s football, the competition now enters a five-match round before taking a wee 13-day break before resuming on March 29.

There was little change on the tipping ladder after last week’s action, with Texi Smith faring the best and scoring three from seven across an extended weekend.

Battling Western United open up the round against Melbourne Victory in an interesting and newly created derby, the Jets and Adelaide United seek to keep their finals hopes alive in the Hunter on Friday night and the Phoenix, after losing for the first time in some while, host the white hot Sydney FC on Saturday afternoon in New Zealand.

Daniel Penha Western United FC

Daniel Penha of Western United FC team and Thomas Christopher Beadling of Western Sydney Wanderers. (Photo by Luis Veniegra/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Brisbane Roar cannot afford to lose against Macarthur FC on Saturday night and the round ends when the Glory host an embattled Western Sydney, with all eyes on Marko Rudan and his response to the embarrassment that took place on Tuesday night against Melbourne City.

Good luck with your tips for the round and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say in the competitive voice of the people, as the A-League enters its final seven home and away rounds.

Here is the way the panel sees all the action unfolding across the weekend.

Texi Smith


United, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth

What a difference a couple of weeks makes. Form team Western United at AAMI Park up against neighbours Victory who returned to winning ways themselves last week with a great win in Adelaide.

This Thursday night fixture, at a time of year that shows us exactly why football is played in the summer when stadiums are available, is set to be an all-time classic A-League encounter. Victory start the game off looking like Brazil, devastating wing play and a high tempo has their fans expecting a deluge of goals.

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

However, when Bruno Fornaroli pokes wide from two yards and Zinedine Machach shoots straight at Matt Sutton from right in front, the signs are there that it might not be their night. The game continues as a training drill, Victory attack against United defence, but the appearance of Nikita Rukavystya has Victory on high alert and Daniel Penha strolls through to open the scoring midway through the second half. All hands on deck from the home team sees them shut out Victory for an unlikely win and a clean sheet to send Adelaide to the bottom of the table.

Newcastle Jets welcome a wounded animal to McDonald Jones Stadium for Friday night footy, and this really is the same Adelaide United who were flying high earlier in the season. It’s not often that a team loses five games on the bounce in the A-League but today’s visitors are staring at it down the barrel.

Apostolos Stamatelopoulos to smash the opening goal after only five minutes to remind us of his goal scoring pedigree on the eve of the World Cup qualifiers, only for Hiroshi Ibusuki to level, popping up unmarked at the far post to head home.


The battle for last place comes alive when Nestory Irankunda is thrown on with half an hour to play, but it is teammate Zach Clough who steals the points with a dramatic winner to break Newcastle hearts and send the home fans away unhappy.

Zach Clough celebrates a goal.

Adelaide United’s Zach Clough celebrates a goal. (Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images)

Wellington on the back of a rare defeat that knocked them off top spot, Sydney FC having done well to contain Brisbane Roar after Jake Grirdwood-Reich’s first-half dismissal. What a prospect in Auckland at the famous Eden Park.

Phoenix will channel their inner Wellingong, playing at home away from home for old time’s sake and in the backyard of their newest rivals and will dominate early as expected, a much-changed Sydney FC going for solidity rather than extravagance.

Luke Brattan and Hayden Matthews perform heroics in front of Andrew Redmayne, while Rhyan Grant keeps old teammate Kosta Barbarouses quiet with some uncompromising defending. Its left to Ben Old to ignite the home fans, hitting the bar and post, before the most unlikely of goals straight after the break, Anthony Caceres chasing down a through ball and ricocheting Alex Paulsen’s clearance into the unguarded net.

Joe Lolley then adds a second as Wellington have their pockets picked on the attack, and there’s no way back for the former league leaders as Sydney FC control the final ten minutes to ease to an unusually comfortable victory.


Brisbane Roar take on Macarthur FC at Ballymore Stadium and must be confident of a win after seeing their opponents well and truly demolished at home to the Mariners last weekend.

Being away from Suncorp will help too. Still somehow sitting in 4th position, the Bulls will be keen to erase last week from the memory, but they will have a tough afternoon, Roar going close to the win at Allianz Stadium last week to remain unbeaten in three and within striking distance of the top six. Almost a six-pointer, Tom Waddingham’s mis-hit shot will be enough to give Roar the lead at the break.

Ulises Davila of Macarthur FC yells at his teammates

Ulises Davila of Macarthur FC. (Photo by Damian Briggs/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Valere Germain will be at his annoying best in the second half, but his teammates will be on a different wavelength, Daniel De Silva missing from five yards, Lachlan Rose hitting the underside of the bar and Ulises Davila missing a penalty.

That leaves Marco Rojas to wrap things up with a spin and shot in the box to seal the victory in a key result that closes the gap between the two teams to one win.

The weekend concludes on Saturday, and not even in Perth’s favourite night-time slot. Glory looked positive after starting badly last week and deserved their draw against the Jets. Wanderers are playing like a bunch of strangers; full of skill, willing runners, but without cohesion or communication.

Their two healthy defeats last week will have the Rudan-haters frothing, and he will put faith in fading superstar Milos Ninkovic to spark his team into action. Indeed, Lachlan Brook opens the scoring against the run of play, but it’s not long before the busy Stefan Colakovski stabs home an equaliser.


The Wanderers coach looks on ashen-faced once more when Mustafa Amini sets up Adam Taggart for 2-1, and his head is bowed when Daniel Bennie powers past two static defenders to smash home a third late in the game.

Stuart Thomas

Victory, Newcastle, Wellington, Macarthur, Perth

Tipping is supposed to get easier throughout the season, yet that has not been the case in 2023/24. Surely Victory are too good for United this evening? I cannot see any other result playing out. I’ve given up on Adelaide, go the Jets. For some reason, the Reds simply cannot find any momentum and they look set to finish outside of the top six in what will be a disappointing season.

Kosta Barbarouses celebrates a Wellington goal with Tim Payne. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Wellington should be able to manage Sydney FC at home, especially considering the big crowd and Premier’s Plate at stake, whilst Brisbane and Macarthur looks a lively affair. I promised not to tip Brisbane but they are a decent side. Not as decent as the Bulls though.

The idea of Perth beating Western Sydney after another week of turmoil is an attractive one. The sooner the club as a whole realise that the issues stem from within, the better of the A-League will be.


Andrew Prentice

Victory, Newcastle, Wellington, Macarthur, Perth

Our slightly shortened round kicks off with the “other” Melbourne derby. Western United are still not hosting, but are on a run of form that belies their occupancy of the league cellar.

Victory on the other hand are flying high competition-wise, but form-wise they’re as scratchy as my vinyl copy of ‘Full Boar ’82’ (still a classic compilation). What they do have is Bruno Fornaroli with the scent of goals back in his nostrils, after his double sunk Adelaide last week.

He may be the catalyst Victory need to jump the needle onto a better-sounding track. It’s that and their positions on the ladder that compel me to pick Victory to win this, but Western are definitely on the improve.

Friday night in the Hunter sees two teams that need to jog their memory to recall their last win. At least the Jets have recorded three draws in their last five starts and will be kicking themselves for letting Perth off the canvas at HBF Park.

Rhyan Grant of Sydney FC and Angel Torres of Central Coast Mariners challenge for the ball

Rhyan Grant of Sydney FC and Angel Torres of Central Coast Mariners challenge for the ball. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)


It’s hard to understand what has gone so wrong at Adelaide. Remember early in the season when they thumped Melbourne City 6-0 and were playing dream factory football? It seems like a different planet now for Carl Veart and his charges, and this one is one of those hostile worlds the Jupiter 2 used to crash into frequently on “Lost In Space.”

They came close in the Original Rivalry, and Nestory Irankunda would have pleased his future employees at Bayern (but not enough for them not to loan him out to a Belgian club none of us have heard of). Clayton Taylor seems to be back in form after his injury absence. At home, the Jets look likely to add to Adelaide’s list of hostile worlds.

An absolute cracker in prospect on Saturday afternoon, but maybe a shame it’ll be held in Auckland, where the Phoenix do draw a great crowd, but now have a rival to contend with.

Given all they’ve done to hoist themselves into finals contention, Sydney will be desperate not to slip up and allow their chasers a chance to catch up. The Phoenix lost top spot with their defeat to Melbourne City last week, and striker Oskar Zawada was a notable and puzzling absence from the squad. While they’ve maintained their lofty table position without him for the most part, his goalscoring is something the Phoenix need if they are to maintain the cross-Tasman rage.

Sydney played with 10 players for 65 minutes against Brisbane after Jake Girdwood-Reich was red carded, but they still looked likely to win. His suspension will leave a hole in their defence. Wellington might settle for a draw, but a big Eden Park crowd should spur them onto greater things.

Adam Taggart of the Glory celebrates his second goal against Brisbane Roar

Adam Taggart celebrates a goal for Perth Glory. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

The Roar were insipid against 10-man Sydney FC and are still all over the shop form-wise. But they are only one win outside the top 6. Their visitors Macarthur were cleaned up by Central Coast last Sunday despite the Mariners midweek AFC Cup commitments.


As a former coach of mine used to say, “they were lucky to get nil.” It was un-Bulls-like for this season and I’m tipping them to bounce back against the Roar. They’ll have to do it without youngster Bernardo Oliveira, whose season has sadly ended due to an Achilles injury. Ulises Davila and Valerie Germain combined can’t surely be kept quiet in consecutive weeks. Macarthur by two.

Where do you start with the Wanderers? I’m not sure many are opening Wonka Bars for a golden ticket inside the doors at Wanderland after the club’s humiliating 7-0 loss to Melbourne City midweek, and it’s hard to see where the improvement will come from.

They face a Perth side who are just about out of touch with the finals places, but might rate themselves an outside hope if they collect three points on Saturday night. The Wanderers did get Marcus Antonsson back from the start on Tuesday night after his late substitute appearance last weekend.

A win would, despite the recent disasters, see the Wanderers back in the top six. They’ll have to keep out a scoring-again Adam Taggart if they’re to cross the Nullarbor with the spoils. And at the moment, that’s a little hard to imagine.

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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