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The Roar's A-League Men tips and predictions: Round 25

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18th April, 2024
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In all likelihood, just sixth spot remains up for grabs as we approach the final three rounds of A-League action in season 2023/24 and four teams still have hopes of claiming it.

It was fours all round for the panel and crowd in Round 24 and this week looks an even more precarious one when it comes to successful tipping.

The Jets are finishing the season well and will look to ruffle the Phoenix’s feathers on Friday night. That sixth spot will be heavily impacted by the result in the Wanderers vs Melbourne City clash on Saturday afternoon and the Victory host the Roar later that evening.

Macarthur up against Sydney FC is a potential finals teaser and the Central Coast will be looking to take another step towards the Premiers Plate when they face the Reds in Gosford on Sunday. The round ends with a flat contest between the humiliated Perth Glory and Western United, two teams lamenting inconsistent seasons.

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 panel sees all the action unfolding across the weekend.

Texi Smith

Wellington, City, Victory, Sydney, Central Coast, Perth

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Newcastle Jets have two home games left to escape the Darwin pre-season trip and they’ve hit form just at the right time. This is an exciting prospect, Phoenix having won in the dying embers of the game against Melbourne Victory last week. They will be tested.

Apostolos Stamatelopoulos scores when he wants and will be menacing in the first half, Reno Piscopo hitting the woodwork and leaving the scores deadlocked at the break. Newcastle pile on the pressure but it’s all in vain as the visitors turn on the style in the second half and score three unanswered goals.

Newcastle’s Apostolos Stamatelopoulos. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

This is it. An afternoon kick-off that keeps the crowd surprisingly low, Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City have the chance to change the complexion of their seasons in 90 pulsating minutes of football. Another week full of negatives for the home team, despite a valiant effort at Allianz Stadium in the Sydney derby, but with unsubstantiated allegations from within the club, the turmoil continues.

To entertain a rampant City right now is a recipe for disaster, and City are ahead in five minutes, Mathew Leckie thumping home from the edge of the area to settle a frantic opening. Milos Ninkovic inspires a rousing first half from the home team though and they are level just before the break with classy midfielder Dylan Pierias striking on the break.

That tees up an all-time classic second half of cup-final-esque action. Jack Clisby smashes home from a cleared corner, Steven Ugarkovic equalises and with the game heating up and the yellow cards flying around, Jamie Maclaren stabs home a poacher’s goal to take City into the top six and give them a massive chance of finals football in May.

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Victory need to keep winning to consolidate third spot, their draw-heavy record leaving Sydney FC hovering in anticipation of a slip-up. Roar now with only pride to play for stroke the ball around like 1970s Brazil, teasing Victory into taking risks, and that serves to rile up the crowd.

Victory do pounce though, Daniel Arzani jinking down the right to pick out the head of Ben Folami at the far post, and 1-0 at the break is just reward for their patience. The Roar’s glamour football goes out of the window in the second half and Tom Waddingham equalises as they go route-one, but the day belongs to Victory as Bruno Fornaroli wrestles through to score and then sets up Zinedine Machach to settle the result.

How on earth are Macarthur FC in the finals? They just have a knack of sneaking points when they don’t deserve it, and even without their suspended talisman Ulises Davila, they continue to surprise. Finally blessed with a decent crowd and a bit of atmosphere, Saturday night will be a cup-tie, the winners taking the box seat for a home elimination final.

The home side show urgency in the first half, the crowd gets behind them and they look the better team, Kearyn Bacchus pulling the strings and perennial grump Valere Germain moans his way through to half-time. Clayton Lewis smashes the bar from close range as Sydney FC struggle to contain the Bulls in the second half, but the night belongs to Sydney FC as Max Burgess starts and finishes a flowing move with a double one-two to dink the ball over Filip Kurto and dive into the jubilant Sydney fans.

Following Adelaide United’s aborted comeback at Western United during the week, they passed up the opportunity of a finals spot, but it was tenuous at best. Central Coast Mariners have the chance to take a massive step towards the premiership in front of their adoring home crowd and the sauce bottles, and the cannon will be waiting to be fired at will.

Mikael Doka strikes early on to open the floodgates, but Zach Clough stems the flow, sweeping home a slick move to keep United’s involvement in the title race alive. In fact, a moment of magic from Giuseppe Bovalina sees his pinpoint cross find Hiroshi Ibusuki in front of goal with a free header to put the visitors ahead and the Mariners’ faithful start to bite their nails.

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A terrific final half hour underlines Central Coast Mariners’ right to be top of the pile and they turn the screw, Christian Theoharous thumping in the equaliser and then setting up Angel Torres for the third.

An intriguing match-up completes the weekend, and Western United will condemn Perth Glory to the wooden spoon if they can get a win in Western Australia. The home team will be pumped for this one after succumbing to a horror defeat against Melbourne City last week, and will hope to send their fans off into the post-season abyss on at least a positive note.

Those fans who turned out in Melbourne to see their heroes crushed will be treated to a much better performance today though, Alen Stajcic going with an unchanged side in a hunt for redemption, and when Daniel Bennie scores in the first half, it caps off a stirring opening to the game.

Riku Danzaki equalises just before the break, bundling home from a corner, but the second half belongs to Perth. Stefan Colakovski tricks his way into the box to win a penalty, dispatched by Adam Taggart, and Gio Colli curls a free-kick home to win it for the home team.

Stuart Thomas

Newcastle, City, Victory, Sydney, Central Coast, United

A banana skin game for the Phoenix begins Round 25 and the home side can get it done if they play with the same vigour they showed against the Roar last time out. A shock win for the Jets. Melbourne City will beat the Wanderers in Sydney, in front of a poor crowd that points to just how lost the home club is in the big scheme of things.

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Tipping against Brisbane Roar usually works a treat, despite me desperately wanting to see them improve. Victory far too good as the visitors begin to lose interest and eye the end-of-season trip. Macarthur can beat Sydney on Saturday night but somehow, I feel the Sky Blues will manage to prevail. This could be a classic.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Adelaide are on the verge of being done and dusted for the season and the Mariners should take advantage of that fact in Gosford on Sunday, while Perth will respond well against Western United and score multiple times, only for their defence to be breached on four occasions. Western in a seven-goal epic.

Andrew Prentice

Draw, Western Sydney, Victory, Sydney, Central Coast, Perth

What a position the Jets find themselves in as the regular season reaches its finale. They play the Phoenix this week and the Mariners next week and with both those sides locked at the top of the table, separated only by goal difference, Newcastle can really play spoiler. I think it could happen here.

The Novocastrians have been superb in the face of their ownership crisis and Robbie Stanton deserves the keys to the Castle for keeping them on track (BTW, old in-joke there that long-time Newcastle nightclubbers might get!) The Phoenix keep winning by the skin of their teeth and will be mindful of the 3-0 dust-up the Jets gave them earlier in the season. I’m tipping 1-1.

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Talk about a redemption chance. The Wanderers can secure the top six and end City’s chances, as well as reverse the 7-0 humbling they received at the hands of their opponents in March. And, despite form saying otherwise, I think they will.

City’s extraordinary thrashing of Perth last week is the second time this season they’ve scored eight in a game, which means 23 of their 47 goals this season have come in just three games. Without being maths-proficient, that tells me they’ve only scored 24 goals in their other 22 games. Either they score a bucket load, or not at all.

The Perth result flattered to deceive because the Glory were already on the beach in Spain. The Wanderers aren’t. They hate the beach. They love finals.

The Roar are just infuriating. Up and down like a yoyo, but one of those cheap ones, not the red and gold professional ones the yoyo demonstrators used to bring to displays at the Easter Show. That said, they’re due to play well this week in their never-ending form rollercoaster.

But surely the Victory have too much to gain in front of a boisterous Saturday afternoon home crowd. Bruno Fornaroli is chasing a golden boot, Zinedine Machach is chasing fading form and the team are chasing a home final, which will be secured with the three points here.

Macarthur bounced back in extraordinary fashion last week to break Adelaide hearts at a sold-out Hindmarsh Stadium. Sydney FC performed a similar escape act to beat the Wanderers in an amazing derby game. This “other derby” might be a prelude to a first-week finals showdown between the two, with the winner likely to get the home-ground advantage.

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The Bulls have been a thorn in their older Sydney brother’s side in recent games. But a fully fit Sydney, with Robert Mak available for selection after one of the weakest red cards in recent history, will have the matadors necessary to complete the job.

For the Mariners, much will depend on how they recover from an arduous midweek trip to Kyrgyzstan for their AFC Cup match. How they’ve managed the travel and fixtures with a squad not big on numbers is a modern miracle. This trip is longer than any other they’ve had midweek, and Adelaide might have presented a bigger threat if they’d taken four points from their two games last week.

As it is, the Reds will be out of finals contention unless the Wanderers and Melbourne City draw on Saturday afternoon. The Mariners have secured a top 2 finish but will want the top spot and the Premiers Plate, so will have just enough to pull out a slim victory and keep the bandwagon rolling.

Bruised and battered, Perth farewell their home fans for the season with sheepish expressions and hopefully more desire and industry than they showed in their miserable 8-0 hiding to City last week. Western United are much-improved, but as my high school teachers used to say, that’s starting at a low base.

Maybe Tarneit could use iconic 80’s hit “The Only Way Is Up” by Yazz and the Plastic Population as the club’s theme song. Daniel Penha was unsighted in Western’s two games last week. If he’s unavailable again, Perth may take advantage. In a season of big turnarounds, Perth have the chance to reverse the horrors of AAMI and send their fans into post-season torpor with a smile.

Round 25TexiStuartAndrewThe Crowd
NEW vs WELWELNEWDRAW?
WSW vs MCYMCYMCYWSW?
MVC vs BRIMVCMVCMVC?
MAC vs SYDSYDSYDSYD?
CCM vs ADLCCMCCMCCM?
PER vs WUNPERWUNPER?
Last week4444
Total67636665
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