The following are previews with betting tips for Round 9 of the 2015/16 A-League season.
Thursday, 3 December
Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne City
8:00 PM AEDT, Central Coast Stadium
The lack of quality in the Mariners’ squad becomes more evident with each passing game. Such was the case in the 2-0 defeat to Western Sydney. Their reliance on Anthony Caceres to create anything resembling half a chance makes them easy to shut down while Irish import, Roy O’Donovan, is more likely to kick lumps out of someone than find the back of the net. Wanderers’ winger, Romeo Castelen, got in behind the Mariners almost at will – on another day he could easily have registered a hat-trick. Melbourne City returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion, giving manager John van’t Schip a stay of execution as the vultures seemingly began to circle. Aaron Mooy put in perhaps the most dominant display of any A-League player, so far this season, with a bag of assists and a goal to cap off a 5-1 win over struggling Perth Glory.
The Mariners are coming off a short break after Sunday’s match in Gosford while City played on Friday evening. In a big out for the hosts, in-form captain Nick Montgomery misses out through suspension. In better news, left winger Mitch Austin returns again from the treatment table (seems like he misses every other week) while Matty Sim is “knocking the manager’s door down” for a starting berth after some impressive performances off the bench. The visitors retain some much needed steel with the notable return of captain Patty Kisnorbo. These two sides met on Matchday 3, in Melbourne, when City ran out 3-1 winners in an open and entertaining match. Despite City’s poor record in Gosford, the visitors have too much going for them at the moment and the absence of Montgomery makes it an almost insurmountable task for the Mariners.
Nick’s tip: Melbourne City 0ah @1.5 (Pinnacle)
Friday, 4 December
Sydney FC v Newcastle Jets
7:40 PM AEDT, Allianz Stadium
Touted as one of the sides to challenge Melbourne Victory for the title, Sydney’s standards have taken a dive in the last month. Last Thursday’s stalemate against Wellington was the third in their last four outings; in a game punctuated by frequent blasts of the referee’s whistle. Despite Graham Arnold’s disgust at the performance of referee, Chris Beath, it was his side that committed 29 fouls in a game where Nix midfielder Roly Bonevacia was seemingly targeted by the home side. Newcastle and most notably, Mark Birighitti, continue to tear up scripts of doom and gloom as they held high flying Brisbane to a 1-1 draw. David Carney also deserves a special mention as his sweet left foot caused havoc in the Roar defence, failing to clear his in-swinging corner kick that led to Kantarovski’s equalizer. It was all about hanging on for the point from there on as Brisbane laid siege on their goal, Birighitti denying both MacLaren and Corona in the latter stages.
One positive Graham Arnold can take from recent performances is his side’s ability to keep clean sheets. The Jets are not in spectacular form by any stretch but their resilience and character, especially away from home, has been most impressive. They were battered in general play at Wellington, Melbourne City (for at least 45 minutes) and Adelaide United but somehow remain undefeated. How long can they keep this up is the million dollar question. Sydney need to inject some urgency in their game, be it through changes in personnel or tactics. The Sky Blues have some tough away trips to contend with throughout the festive period so it’s important they maximize their return from this game to at least stay on the coat-tails of the league leaders.
Nick’s tip: Sydney -0.75ah @1.78 (Pinnacle)
Saturday, 5 December
Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory
5:15 PM AEDT, QBE Stadium, Auckland
With all the turmoil taking place in the country between fans, the FFA, and everything in between, Wellington Phoenix are going about their business as per usual. Their time though will come down the road when discussions about their long-term future as an A-League club resurface. Onto on-field matters and Wellington welcome the league leaders on the back of an uninspiring scoreless draw at The Allianz, against Sydney FC. Ernie Merrick will be hoping to build on his side’s first shutout this season. Meanwhile, Victory strolled to a 2-1 win over cellar dwellers Adelaide United. A late rally by the Reds made for a nervy finish. Not too dissimilar to the 2-1 win over the Mariners a fortnight ago, Victory came out of the blocks all guns blazing but failed to put the game beyond doubt with a third.
With the game played up in Auckland, the Nix will be looking to put on a show for their army of supporters who have chosen not to boycott the game. The home side will have their work cut out in stopping the attacking weaponry at Victory’s disposal. One man who’s sure to be buoyed by midweek events is league top goalscorer, Besart Berisha, who agreed to a 2-year contract extension. Worryingly for the Nix, they have let in 2 goals in each of their 3 home games to date. The return to form of Ben Khalfallah, last week, means that Victory will be difficult to tie down with Kostas Barbarouses weaving his magic down the other flank. Melbourne will hope to get their 4 game road trip off to the best possible start. Anything bar an away win would be a surprise.
Nick’s tip: Melbourne Victory -0.25ah @1.78 (Pinnacle)
Western Sydney Wanderers v Brisbane Roar
7:30 PM AEDT, Pirtek Stadium
In what is likely to be the match of round, on paper at least, second takes on third as the home side look to extend their winning streak to 6 games. It won’t be easy though as Brisbane are on a solid run of 5 games undefeated. Another interesting fact to take into account will be the noticable absence of the RBB, Western Sydney’s hardcore fan base, who have decided to boycott the game. The Wanderers probably don’t need a “12th man” the way they are travelling at the moment as they overcame the Mariners with relative ease to record a 2-0 away win. Despite missing in-form marksman Federico Piovaccari and fellow forward Mark Bridge, Western Sydney had more than enough to negotiate a late-rallying Mariners outfit. Brisbane have been in scratchy form this past month with a return of 6pts from a possible 12. Their laborious forward play most recently costed them a certain 3pts, at Newcastle, as Kantarovski cancelled out MacLaren’s well taken goal as both sides had to settle for a point. Corona’s early season form seems to have deserted him which is not helping with Brisbane’s circulation of possession through midfield – a possible factor in the Roar’s recent dip.
The Wanderers will be looking to avenge their 3-1 opening day defeat to the Roar; a game that was decided on several howlers by keeper Andrew Redmayne. The former Melbourne City keeper has since looked assured and has played a key part in his side’s recent run of results. The team news is good for the Wanderers with both Bridge and Pio returning to bolster attacking stocks. Roar lose Spanish import, Jervas, through general muscle soreness. Performances and results suggest a win for the home side but the Roar can be scintillating on their day.
Nick’s tip: Under 2.75 goals @1.7 (Pinnacle)
Sunday, 6 December
Adelaide United v Perth Glory
5:00 PM AEDT, Coopers Stadium
A battle of the bottom two is always an intriguing contest no matter what level of football. Of course, both sides don’t have the threat of relegation hanging over their heads but yet, their respective finals’ aspirations may rest on this one game. Coincidentally, both sides were in Melbourne last weekend and both returned with no points to show for their efforts. Adelaide will be feeling a little more upbeat after a respectable 2-1 defeat to high flying Melbourne Victory. The final 20 minutes of that game will give Reds’ fans some heart as Adelaide pinned the hosts back into their own half; the pressure finally paying dividends on 87′ when Barbarouses barged into the back of the impressive Craig Goodwin – Carrusca expertly dispatching the ensuing spot kick. A day earlier, Perth suffered a 5-1 demolition at the hands of a hungry Melbourne City outfit. The first half was actually quite even in terms of chances created but Melbourne City showed that little bit more quality and composure in the final third. The second half was a procession for the home side; the score line could easily have read a more sorry tale as Mooy and co. took full control.
Eight games into the season and United are still seeking their first win. There’s mixed news on the selection front with Babalj and Dugandzic included in the squad but the big out is Craig Goodwin after receiving his 5th caution (of the season) last weekend. Glory welcome back Hungarian import Gyorgy Sandor and Socceroo Josh Risdon but young centre-half, Aryn Williams, misses out through suspension. Both sides have reason for optimism; Adelaide can look at recent performances for encouragement while Perth won the last meeting at NIB, 3-1, just five weeks ago.
Nick’s tip: No tip.