The following are previews with betting tips for Round 19 of the 2015/16 A-League season.
Friday, 12 February
Brisbane Roar v Newcastle Jets
8:00 PM AEDT, Suncorp Stadium
Outright leaders Brisbane will look to make the most of Western Sydney’s misfortune following the news that the 2nd placed side will be deducted 3pts as a result of last week’s events at the Docklands. The Roar seem to be back on track following the return of it’s Olyroos contingent with a resounding 4-0 win over bottom side Central Coast. The Roar have scored 7 and conceded just once since MacLaren, Borrello and Donachie returned from their sojourn overseas. Newcastle are likely to present stiffer opposition for the hosts. The Jets belied their lowly position on the table with an impressive 2-1 win over title-chasing Melbourne City, last week. There was a sense of purpose and belief about the Jets as much berated striker Milos Trifunovic scored a brace to give the hosts a rare win, just their fifth this season.
Perhaps the Roar’s biggest obstacle going into this match is complacency. Easy wins over Sydney FC and Central Coast, in addition to a 3pt buffer at the top of the pile, presents enough reason for the players to maybe give less than 100%. Although a finals appearance is unlikely, the Jets will keep on fighting until the top 6 are mathematically out of reach.. January signings, Ugarkovic and Nordstrand, seem to have settled well in their new surroundings while reports coming out of Newcastle is that training is more intense and of a higher standard. The Jets held Brisbane to a 1-1 draw in their previous and only meeting this season, back in November of last year.
Nick’s tip: Newcastle Jets 2ah @1.56 (Pinnacle)
Saturday, 13 February
Sydney FC v Perth Glory
5:15 PM AEDT, Allianz Stadium
Ever since their three game winning run began late last month, Perth manager Kenny Lowe would of circled this fixture as key if they were to gatecrash the Top 6. With Sydney’s form going in a southerly direction and just six points separating the sides (Sydney in 5th, Perth in 7th), Perth will be looking to continue their momentum following a hard fought 1-0 win in Wellington. Chris Harold’s clinical header from a sumptuous Nebojsa Marinkovic delivery proved the difference with the in-form Glory forward scoring his fourth in as many games. Sydney FC will be kicking themselves after defensive errors costed them a certain 3pts against Adelaide United. The Sky Blues had to settle for a 2-2 draw but were the dominant side for long periods, in the second half, and will be looking to take that form into this crucial meeting at the SFS.
Sydney manager, Graham Arnold, has hinted that new recruit David Carney and returning skipper (from injury) Alex Brosque are set to be named in the first XI. This will be huge news for the hosts as they have looked short of ideas in forward areas. Following his cameo appearance against the Phoenix, Diego Castro is likely to go straight into the starting lineup for the visitors while last week’s debutant, Krisztian Vadocz, may keep his spot in defensive midfield after his impressive showing. These sides played out a scoreless draw in Perth almost three months ago. With another meeting scheduled for the final day of the regular season, everything could weigh on that encounter to determine who progresses to the “big dance”.
Nick’s tip: Perth 1.5ah @1.52 (Pinnacle)
Melbourne City v Melbourne Victory
7:30 PM AEDT, AAMI Park
This is perhaps the most unpredictable Melbourne derby in recent memory. The city rivals go into battle on the back of some indifferent form, both locked on 28pts with Melbourne City in third courtesy of their superior goal difference. Melbourne Victory had keeper Danny Vukovic to thank for a string of outstanding saves as they held on for a 1-1 draw against the Wanderers. In what was an uncharacteristic backs to the wall, error-strewn performance, it all looked rosy for the reigning champs when who else but Besart Berisha put the home side in front – as the smoke from the flares abated. Almost immediately, Victory lost a handle on the midfield battle and it was inevitable when they conceded close to full-time. City themselves were below par but unlike Victory, paid the ultimate price with a 2-1 loss at lowly Newcastle. In what has become the norm (of late) away from AAMI Park, Melbourne City looked to be operating in second gear for most of the contest. Top scorer, Bruno Fornaroli, momentarily sparked his side into life with some strong lead up play and a clinical finish but it proved too little too late.
Things are about to get hectic for Victory as they are set to play up to three games a week due to their involvement in the ACL. Their campaign begins against China outfit, Shanghai SIPG, on the 24th of Feb so a win here is of paramount importance to the visitors (perhaps even more so to that of City). In
team news, both sides are boosted by some big inclusions with new signing and current Socceroo, Alex Wilkinson, in line to make his debut for City. Victory welcome back Ben Khalfallah and Mahazi from suspension while fan favourite Archie Thomspon returns in time (from his latest injury) to potentially write another chapter in his illustrious career.
Nick’s tip: Over 3 goals @1.66 (SBOBET)
Sunday, 14 February
Central Coast Mariners v Adelaide United
3:00 PM AEDT, Central Coast Stadium
The Mariners will hope to catch the visiting Reds off guard and a little leg-weary as they aim to bounce back from the 4-0 thumping in Brisbane. Central Coast were brought back to terra firma with a thud following on from their 3-1 win in Wellington the week prior. It was an abject performance by the Mariners, one of the worst by any side this season. Luis Garcia’s introduction at half-time did give Neil Walmsley’s side a faint heart beat but did little in the way of repelling Brisbane’s wave after wave of attacks. United themselves will be licking their wounds after bowing out of the ACL, in midweek, losing 2-1 to China outfit Shandong Luneng. After a poor first half showing, United made a spirited comeback in the second half but a missed Carrusca penalty and profligate finishing proved their undoing.
The outcome of this match rests on Adelaide United’s level of fitness – can they play 3 matches in 9 days? The match is scheduled for an afternoon kick-off with temperatures predicted in the low 30’s, not ideal for a side clinging on to that sixth and final play-off spot. Harry Ascroft is suspended again for the Mariners after his sending off against the Roar while in more positive news, flying winger Mitch Austin returns from injury. Adelaide United are not without their disciplinary troubles either with Tarek Elrich and La Rocca both suspended following last week’s 2-2 draw against Sydney FC. In their only encounter this season, Adelaide United ran out comfortable 3-1 winners with Craig Goodwin starring for the Reds.
Nick’s tip: Central Coast 1ah @1.52 (Pinnacle)
Western Sydney Wanderers v Wellington Phoenix
5:00 PM AEDT, Pirtek Stadium
Who would want to be a Wellington Phoenix player this Sunday evening? Pirtek Stadium will be akin to a large, bubbling cauldron after the Wanderers were docked 3pts and $50,000 following a ruling by the FFA in midweek. This was in relation to the lighting of flares and unruly behaviour in the away end, at the Docklands, as Western Sydney drew 1-1 with Melbourne Victory. As a result, Western Sydney are reduced to 31pts and trail league leaders Brisbane who sit on 34pts. Wellington’s woes continued against Perth following a 1-0 defeat at the Westpac Stadium. The Nix are currently on a nine match winless streak which sees them just 4pts above bottom club Central Coast.
Spaniards dominate the notable team news for both sides with the Wanderers deeply affected by the absence of Alberto (susp.), Dimas (susp.) and Andreu (inj.). While Wellington lose one of their amigos in Alex Rodriguez (through injury), another one returns as Albert Riera served his one-match suspension. As the visitors still await clearance for Englishman Alex Jones, a much needed striker has been brought to the club with 22yr old Hamish Watson signed as an injury replacement for stricken Roy Krishna. The home side has dominated these meetings in recent times but the Nix gave a good account of themselves last time they were at this venue, losing 2-1 to a late Mark Bridge strike.