The following are previews with betting tips for Round 27 of the 2016/17 A-League season.
Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners
7:50 PM AEST, AAMI Park
Victory’s defensive duo, Alan Baro and Jason Geria, return from suspension as the home side look to finish the regular season in style.
Daniel Georgievski misses out after collecting two cautions in the scoreless draw at Western Sydney.
Paul Okon is likely to make few changes following an impressive win in the F3 Derby.
Jake McGing and Lachlan Wales have been promoted to the senior squad but may need to settle for a spot on the bench.
It was more like it from Melbourne Victory as they battled to a scoreless draw for the best part of 40 minutes, with 10 men. The result against in-form Western Sydney was just reward for a more concentrated, more intense Melbourne Victory performance – one that we have not witnessed for at least a month. The home side will be looking to continue in the same vein but with more swagger and goal threat in the front third.
The Mariners will be in a buoyant mood following a rare derby win over East coast rivals, Newcastle. After a cagey opening, captain Nick Montgomery broke the deadlock with a fine long range strike, following some well worked combination play. Soon after the interval, Fabio Ferreira added the all important second on the back of a quick fire counter-attack. Along with Adelaide United and Newcastle, the Mariners are in a 3-way tussle to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.
Nick’s tip: Melbourne Victory -1.25ah @1.64 (Pinnacle)
Sydney FC v Newcastle Jets
5:35 PM AEST, Allianz Stadium
Sydney welcome back their first choice midfield trio with Alex Tobin medal winner, Milos Ninkovic, returning from illness. Brandon O’Neill and Josh Brillante are available again after missing the 1-1 draw, in Wellington, through suspension.
Youngster, Nicola Kuleski, returns to the NPL after getting a taste of A-League action against the Nix.
The hapless Jets are looking to avoid the wooden spoon. Mark Jones hopes the return of Wayne Brown (from suspension) can trigger a response.
Club captain Nigel Boogard sits out the final game of the season after picking up his 8th caution.
The Sky Blues are a win away from breaking the all-time A-League record for points accumulated in one season (65). Last week, Graham Arnold’s men were just minutes away from equaling that mark after Bobo’s converted penalty looked to be the winning goal. Following a pedestrian first 45, the Premiers ramped up the pressure and could of easily piled on two or three more before Wellington’s Michael McGlinchey struck at the death.
Changes are afoot at Newcastle with Chinese owner, Martin Lee, looking to start a new era at this proud club. The proverbial broom will shortly be put to use with a chunk of the squad set to make way for new players, already announced for next season. The 2-0 loss against local rival Central Coast marked a 4th defeat on the bounce (without reply) while it was their 9th outing without a win.
Nick’s tip: Sydney FC -1.75ah @1.82 (Pinnacle)
Adelaide United v Western Sydney Wanderers
7:50 PM AEST, Coopers Stadium
The reigning champs will look to farewell a dismal campaign with a win in front of their faithful fans. Adelaide United youngsters – Mark Ochieng, Ben Warland, and Jordan O’Doherty have all been promoted to the match day squad.
Tarek Elrich will miss up to 12 months after tearing knee ligaments in last week’s 1-0 defeat at Melbourne City.
Western Sydney make a host of changes as they cast one eye towards next week’s preliminary final. Cole, Pinatares, Borda and Griffiths headline a list of players promoted for the clash at Coopers Stadium.
Despite their disappointing A-League campaign, Adelaide United revived their ACL tilt (and season) with a 3-1 win away to Korean outfit, Jeju United. With their focus firmly set on the two games remaining in Group H, the Reds can be forgiven for turning in a limp performance come Saturday evening.
Western Sydney has all but bid farewell to the Asian Champions League, for this season, following their midweek defeat to FC Seoul. Tuesday’s 3-2 defeat saw 4 changes to the side that drew with Melbourne Victory, on Saturday. The silver lining is that their A-League campaign is well and truly alive, but they start as rank outsiders to go all the way (to the Grand Final) with tough away trips lying in wait.
Nick’s tip: Western Sydney 0ah @1.71 (Pinnacle)
Brisbane Roar v Wellington Phoenix
5:00 PM AEST, Suncorp Stadium
Tommy Oar makes a welcome return after sitting 5 weeks out with a hamstring strain. The ex-Socceroo is joined by a number of veterans, namely Michael Theo, Avram Papadopoulos, Thomas Kristensen and Thomas Broich.
Spanish forward, Arana, is out indefinitely after pulling up lame in last week’s defeat to Perth. Corey Brown is rested with next week’s preliminary final in mind.
Out of finals contention for the third year running, Wellington will look to finish their campaign on a high. Expect names such as Logan Rogerson and Sarpreet Singh to get more game time with a look towards next season.
After his second spell with the club, veteran striker Shane Smeltz is free to pursue a career elsewhere.
With a home final secured (barring exceptional circumstances) and a 2-1 win against Kashima Antlers, on Wednesday evening, Brisbane are fighting on two fronts. On the domestic front, Roar are currently sitting in 4th position, level on points with Melbourne City. Brisbane will be aiming to take 3rd spot and avoid a potential meeting with Sydney FC in the semi-finals. Jamie MacLaren will need to be on-song if the Roar are to spring a surprise. The diminutive striker was guilty of spurning numerous guilt-edged opportunities in last Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Perth.
Wellington’s late rally to make the finals is officially over following the 1-1 draw with Sydney FC. Form has been good since mid-February but the Nix left themselves with too much ground to make up. Des Buckingham will have a mighty job on his hands in motivating his troops for the trek to Brisbane. Regardless of the result, Wellington will finish the season in 7th place.
Nick’s tip: No tip.
Perth Glory v Melbourne City
7:00 PM AEST, nib Stadium
It remains to be seen whether Perth will take a punt on marquee man, Diego Castro. The Spanish wizard was on the receiving end of a crude challenge by Brisbane’s Jacob Pepper, leaving the field on just short of an hour.
Melbourne City’s towering defender, Ruon Tongyik, returns from illness. The visitors are looking to cement a home final after last week’s solid 1-0 victory over Adelaide United.
Glory returned to winning ways with a 3-1 win over Brisbane to keep alive their hopes of a home final – however slim they may be. A win over Melbourne City, by a 4 goal margin, will guarantee Perth a home preliminary final. At the least, Perth will be looking to land a psychological blow to their opponents with a potential meeting in the prelims (if Melbourne City finish 4th and Perth 5th).
It’s no coincidence that Melbourne City looked a more cohesive unit with Michael Jakobsen back in the side. Admittedly, a 1-0 win over Adelaide United is not something to write home about but the clean sheet, and good performance, would of brought a smile to the dial of interim manager, Michael Valkanis.
Nick’s tip: Melbourne City +0.5ah @1.66 (Pinnacle)