The following are previews with betting tips for Round 3 of the 2015/16 A-League season.
Friday, 23 October
Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Victory
7:40 PM AEDT, Hunter Stadium
Victory take on bogey side Newcastle fresh from their thrilling 3-2 derby win over Melbourne City. The reigning champions have not won at the Hunter since 2009. The visitors though will be buoyed by Berisha’s late winner after giving up a two goal lead midway through the second half. In contrast, Newcastle went down 1-0 after conceding a late goal to Sydney skipper Alex Brosque. Following an evenly balanced first half, it was all one way traffic thereafter as Sydney upped the ante with subs Blackwood and Gersbach the catalysts for the visitors. In a match marred by a facial injury to Jets keeper Mark Birighitti (from a stray Shane Smeltz boot), no one can argue that Sydney FC didn’t deserve the 3pts.
At this stage, Ben Kennedy is likely to step in for Birighitti (in the Newcastle goal) while veteran winger, Labito Haliti, has been ruled out indefinitely with knee ligament damage. Victory have a wealth of riches in the defensive department with Leigh Broxham returning from suspension while Olyroos, Jason Geria and Scott Galloway, are included in the matchday squad. It’s hard to put a finger on Victory’s poor record at this venue but one legitimate theory might be the poor pitch surface. Widely regarded as the worst pitch in the A-League, the surface was re-laid earlier in the year in order to host Asian Cup games. The surface now plays true and should negate any home ground advantage that Newcastle held in previous seasons.
Nick’s tip: Melbourne Victory -0.25ah @1.51 (Pinnacle Sports)
Saturday, 24 October
Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar
5:15 PM AEDT, Westpac Stadium
In what promises to be one of the matches of the round, the Phoenix take on early pace setters Brisbane. After a disappointing home loss to Newcastle (to open their campaign), Wellington bounced back in style with a deserving 2-1 win at Perth. It took a rare Vince Lia strike to break the deadlock during a long spell of pressure, following the dismissal of Glory captain Richard Garcia. Brisbane did it a little easier, in their 2-1 win over Central Coast, after the visitors rallied late to add some respectability to the score line. In truth, the Roar really should of been out of sight by half time after two goal hero from a fortnight ago, Jamie MacLaren, missed a succession of guilt-edged opportunities. The beauty of this Brisbane outfit is that they have more than one avenue to goal – step
up Brandon Borello who scored a brace (including a rasping drive for his first strike) to lock in the 3pts.
The Phoenix showed some of the form that made them a joy to watch last season – sharp, incisive passing in the attacking third. Bonevacia, McGlinchey and Riera were a bundle of energy while striker Roy Krishna took his goal well after his penalty miss a fortnight ago. Perth though afforded the Phoenix a lot of space in and around the penalty area, something that the Roar should restrict with experienced heads Matt McKay and Corona in the engine room. In team news, Wellington remain without club captain Andrew Durante so Manny Muscat will remain as a makeshift centre-back. Blighted by injury last season, veteran Roar keeper Michael Theo sits this one out with a quad problem so able deputy Jamie Young steps in. There’s a recent history of goals in this fixture and I can see this trend continuing with Wellington showing that there might be life after Nathan Burns, after all.
Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers
7:30 PM AEDT, Allianz Stadium
Following on from the 40,000+ fans that witnessed the thrilling Melbourne Derby at The Docklands, it’s now Sydney’s turn to showcase their own version of a local rivalry. If it’s half as good what was served up last week, then we’re in for a treat! After what was a rather anti-climactic start to their season (1-1 draw at home to Melbourne City), Sydney FC were made to earn a hard fought 1-0 win at stubborn Newcastle. Alex Brosque came to the rescue with a late headed winner and a sense of relief, moments after hitting the woodwork in a game the Sky Blues dominated. Western Sydney were much improved in their 1-1 draw in Adelaide, and perhaps could consider themselves a touch unfortunate in a game they dominated for long periods. Spanish midfielder, Andreu, experienced personal misery and adulation on the same night – turning Tarek Elrich’s stray shot into his own net on 21 minutes only to redeem himself late on when comically, Elrich returned the favor with an errant pass which the Spaniard
duly roofed into the top of the net (Adelaide’s). Perhaps it will be appropriate of the A-League to name this fixture the Elrich-Andreu Derby in future seasons.
The four most recent meetings between these two have amounted to an average of 4.5 goals per game. Sydney FC should regain the services of Filip Holosko (return from injury) and Andrew Hoole giving Graham Arnold a selection headache or two. A lot of Western Sydney’s hopes will rest on the shoulders of Dutchman, Romeu Castelen, who has started the season in fine fettle. If his team mates can match his intensity combined with a bit guile in the front third, then the 3pts is not beyond the Wanderers.
Nick’s tip: Sydney FC -0.25ah @1.85 (Pinnacle Sports)
Sunday, 25 October
Melbourne City v Central Coast Mariners
5:00 PM AEDT, AAMI Park
The pressure is on John van’t Schip, of that there is no doubt. Losing 3-2 to title favourites Melbourne Victory after a valiant effort is forgivable. To send out a makeshift XI in an FFA Cup semi-final and get convincingly beaten is clearly unforgivable. Melbourne City will need to pick themselves up after a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Perth, on Wednesday. Central Coast will be no easy beats, as they showed in the corresponding fixture last season, storming back from 2-0 down with late goals from Glen Trifiro and the now retired John Hutchinson. The Mariners have shown already this term that they are willing to take more risks going forward. That mindset paid dividends in their 2-1 away at Wellington, a fortnight ago, but were undone by the same score line at classy Brisbane Roar –
debutant striker Josh Bingham grabbing a late consolation.
The visitors will fancy themselves in garnering at least a point from this contest as the hosts look to dust themselves off after their tough trip out West. In addition, Melbourne City have a long injury list to contend with where as many 9 senior players are unavailable for selection – Zullo, Clisby, Velaphi and Koren all added within the last week. The Mariners have only ever lost once to City/Heart so with all these factors combined, the smart money will be on the visitors.
Perth Glory v Adelaide United
7:00 PM AEDT, nib Stadium
Just days after reaching the FFA Cup final for the second consecutive season, Perth will meet last season’s fellow finalists (and eventual champions), Adelaide United. On Wednesday, a full strength Perth side made easy work of an inexperienced Melbourne City outfit with Hungarian import, Gyorgy Sandor, scoring his third goal in as many games. The 3-1 score line was perhaps a little flattering on the Glory as City piled on the pressure in the second half, with veteran keeper Ante Covic denying Aaron Mooy a certain equalizer. Adelaide United will hope it’s third time lucky after draws in each of their opening two matches. As was the case in their scoreless draw against Melbourne Victory, the Reds were rather fortunate to hold out against Western Sydney. United centre-back, Dylan McGowan, needed to be at his best to deny the Wanderers with last ditch tackles and well timed interceptions.
Three games in 7 days is the task facing the oldest squad in the competition, Perth Glory. Glory manager, Kenny Lowe, rightly prioritized the FFA Cup high on his agenda and fielded a full strength XI to ensure his team’s passage through to the final. This though may leave his side a little short come Sunday. Adelaide United must be licking their lips in anticipation. The visitors are boosted by the return of star striker, Bruce Djite, who should be a direct replacement for the disappointing (and injured) Eli Babalj.