A-League Round 20 Preview and Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 20 of the 2015/16 A-League season.

Friday, 19 February

Melbourne Victory

Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United

7:40 PM AEDT, AAMI Park

Adelaide United

For the second time in a fortnight, Melbourne Victory had reason to feel hard done by following their 2-2 draw against crosstown rivals Melbourne City. Hot on the heels of Ben Khalfallah’s harsh sending off in Perth (in Round 17), Victory’s designated set-piece taker Guy Finkler was denied a brilliantly executed goal as his shot struck the underside of the crossbar and went over the line before bouncing out. With goal line technology yet to be introduced in the A-League and the officials’ view slightly obscured, Victory had to endure another frustrating evening and their 3rd consecutive match without a win. In contrast, Adelaide United received the benefit of the doubt on an offside call as they registered a 3-2 win at Central Coast. Playing their third match in the space of 9 days (following the 2-1 midweek loss to Shandong Luneng in an ACL playoff), the Reds had to come from behind after trailing at the break to a rare foray forward by the Mariners. Adelaide United were always seemingly in control and despite Bruce Djite scoring from an offside position to give his side a 2-1 lead, the Reds were by far the better team.

With Victory’s Asian Champions League campaign kicking off next Wednesday against Shanghai SIPG, manager Kevin Muscat must be concerned with his side’s inability to convert good performances in to wins. Muscat will be urging his players to get a win here otherwise there is a possibility that they could miss out on the finals all together with Perth Glory lurking dangerously in 7th position. Also, the workload is only going to get heavier over the next couple of months (at least) with extra games and travel likely to be a factor. Despite the disappointment of missing out on qualification to Asia’s premier club competition, Adelaide United can at least focus all their resources towards a full frontal assault on the title.

Nick’s tip: Melbourne Victory -0.25ah @1.74 (Pinnacle)


Saturday, 20 February

Newcastle Jets

Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix

5:15 PM AEDT, Hunter Stadium

Wellington Phoenix

A couple of weeks ago, this fixture would of looked like nothing more than a borefest between two struggling sides. A fortnight is a long time in football though and both these clubs seem to have since rediscovered their respective identities after long periods of doom and gloom. The Jets earned a gutsy 2-2 draw at league leaders Brisbane to remind everyone of their gradual improvement under the guidance of promising young manager, Scott Miller. There’s no doubt that Newcastle had to ride their luck at times, especially after the break, but they could just as easily come away with 3pts as they went toe to toe with their technically more gifted opponents. Wellington produced one of the shock results of the season as they toppled high flying Western Sydney in their own backyard! It was a red-letter day for Sydney-born Wellington striker Blake Powell as his four goal haul propelled him into the A-League record books as one of few players to register such a feat, as his side registered a resounding 5-2 win. It must be noted that it wasn’t all one way traffic with Western Sydney spurning a number of chances while Nix keeper Glen Moss was called upon to produce some outstanding saves.

Although improbable, both sides will feel they have an outside chance of gatecrashing the Top 6 so we can expect an open game. Ernie Merrick will be quietly confident that his Nix can finish the season strongly with 5 of their remaining 8 games to be played at Westpac Stadium. A second consecutive win on the road could prove a real shot in the arm for Ernie’s men and perhaps generate more interest back home with attendances been well below par so far this campaign. Miller has his work cut out for him as both holding midfielders in Ben Kantarovski and Mateo Poljak are out through suspension. Cameron Watson is the only obvious replacement which does spell trouble for the home side.

Nick’s tip: Over 2.5 goals @1.7 (Pinnacle)



Sydney FC

Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers

7:30 PM AEDT, Allianz Stadium

Western Sydney Wanderers

In what is the final installment of the Sydney derby, for the regular season at least, the Sky Blues will look to maintain their dominance over the Wanderers and improve on a recent H2H record of 5 wins and a draw. Following a crazy weekend of football, both sides will feel relieved that other results more or less went their way after suffering disappointing defeats, respectively. Sydney had no answer for the league’s form side Perth Glory in a 2-1 defeat that will most likely be remembered for a comical error from keeper Vedran Janjetovic, which led to the visitors’ opener. It was generally a very disjointed performance by Sydney, not unlike recent games, which will give manager Graham Arnold sleepless nights with an ACL campaign to tackle over the next few months. If there was ever any doubt as to how much Western Sydney’s trio of Spanish imports contribute to the team, then the 5-2 defeat to Wellington says it all. Suspension and injury had ruled out Andreu, Dimas and Alberto in last week’s embarrassing defeat but Popovic will be glad to have them all available for a match of this magnitude.

Western Sydney will feel they have a few scores to settle with their pride tarnished after last week’s record home defeat while the two losses to Sydney this season came about in unfortunate circumstances. The Sky Blues travel to Japan in midweek to face Urawa Reds in the ACL so perhaps Arnie will rest some first choice players with a view to that game. Two players that definitely won’t need resting are imports Jacques Faty and Filip Holosko who were both overlooked as Arnold finalized his Champions League squad in midweek. It will be interesting to see if there are any lingering ill feelings from the two in what promises to be a tense and passionate atmosphere.

Nick’s tip: Western Sydney 0.25ah @1.6 (Pinnacle)



Perth Glory

Perth Glory v Brisbane Roar

9:40 PM AEDT, nib Stadium

Brisbane Roar

In what could easily turn out as the match of the round, Perth aim to make it 5 wins on the trot when they welcome league leaders Brisbane. In a remarkable upsurge in form, Glory’s 2-1 away win over Sydney marked their third straight win on the road after collecting just a single point from their seven prior trips out of Perth. It was not a classic by all means but Kenny Lowe will not mind one bit as his side continue to look more organized and determined than any other in the league. The Roar will feel their second half onslaught against the spirited Jets warranted 3pts but it was not to be as star striker Jamie MacLaren had one of his quieter evenings. MacLaren’s first and perhaps only contribution came on 6 minutes when he calmly slotted home from the penalty spot after winger Brandon Borrello was barged over by Newcastle full-back Nick Cowburn. Testament to Newcastle’s recently discovered confidence, the Roar found themselves behind in the space of 4 minutes following some loose marking in the penalty area and a lapse in concentration from full-back Corey Brown. Brisbane showed their superiority in the second half and deserved their slice of luck when Jade North’s deflected cross/shot found the back of the net to earn his side a 2-2 draw.

Perth’s run of recent form suggests that they’ve clearly done most of their good work away from home. In their last game at the NIB, the Glory needed the “Football Gods” to smile upon them as they overcame 10-man Melbourne Victory in a 3-2 triumph. Brisbane will present a stern test and one can expect Jamie MacLaren to click back into gear following last week’s below-par outing, especially against his former club. In team news, Roar veteran Shane Stefanutto should replace the vulnerable Corey Brown at left full-back after recovering sufficiently from injury. Brisbane were victorious in their two previous meetings this season (both at Suncorp) while they have lost just once in their last four visits to Perth.

Nick’s tip: Over 2.25 goals @1.51 (Pinnacle)



Sunday, 21 February

Melbourne City

Melbourne City v Central Coast Mariners

5:00 PM AEDT, AAMI Park

Central Coast Mariners

Following a tough run of fixtures, Melbourne City will fancy themselves of getting back to winning ways against bottom club Central Coast. Fornaroli was again brilliant in the Melbourne derby with a brace of goals but it somewhat papered over the cracks as Anthony Caceres was sent off for the second time in the space of three weeks. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that City’s poor form has coincided with Erik Paartalu’s departure in the January transfer window, leaving John van’t Schip to “shoehorn” players like Caceres into roles that are alien to them. Central Coast continue to drift further away into the abyss after the 3-2 loss to Adelaide United left them 7pts behind the next best placed Wellington Phoenix. Despite taking the lead completely against the run of play, Neil Walmsley’s decision to start Luis Garcia backfired as the celebrated Spaniard was a mere spectator.

It’s all starting to go a bit wrong for once title favorites Melbourne City as on-field performances have dropped off while off-field matters threaten to completely derail their season. In midweek, French winger Harry Novillo was taken away from his apartment in handcuffs following an alleged assault on his
partner. Novillo has been one of City’s shining lights this season and having him ostracized from the playing group and suspended for two matches does not augur well. John van’t Schip is likely to give youth a chance in Novillo’s absence with Wade Dekker or Steve Kuzmanovski in line for a rare appearance. Walmsley will almost certainly use Luis Garcia off the bench as he had done to good affect in his first two outings against Western Sydney and Wellington, respectively.

Nick’s tip: Central Coast +1.75ah @1.62 (Pinnacle)



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