The following are previews with betting tips for Round 27 of the 2015/16 A-League season.
Friday, 8 April
Melbourne City v Adelaide United
7:40 PM AEDT, AAMI Park
What a way to open the final round of the regular season! Both sides will be gunning for more than just 3 points with a premiership title at stake. Although it would take an unlikely set of results, elsewhere, for 4th placed City to claim their first trophy, a win for 2nd placed Adelaide United will put them in prime position. One way or another, the title winner could be decided by Saturday, 21:30 AEST, as first placed Roar travel to face battle weary Melbourne Victory. More on that later. Last weekend, City’s title aspirations were dealt a heavy blow as they were on the receiving end of a 3-2 defeat, in Perth. At least City’s confidence should still be in check after they did well to battle back from a 3-0 deficit when at one stage, it looked like they were heading for a spanking. Adelaide United were rarely threatened in Sydney as big bustling striker, Bruce Djite, scored a first half double to steer his side to an easy win. It was an impressive performance by the Reds, showing professionalism to dispose of a Sydney side who were already eliminated from the finals playoffs.
Melbourne City hold a significant edge over their visitors in recent meetings, winning 3 of their last 4, including two victories at Coopers Stadium this season. As mentioned earlier, it would take something monumental for the hosts to win the title despite have a superior goal difference to that of anyone else in the league, but 2nd place is a possibility (if Western Sydney drop points in Wellington). A Top 4 place and a home final will be assured if the home side are victorious. It will be easier said than done though as Adelaide United seem to have regained their mojo, in the last fortnight, following a tricky spell. City are also without former Socceroo, Michael Zullo, as he will miss the rest of the season with a toe injury. The visitors are boosted by the return of Tarek Elrich which will see the dangerous Craig Goodwin revert back to his more accustomed wing position.
Saturday, 9 April
Central Coast Mariners v Newcastle Jets
5:15 PM AEDT, Central Coast Stadium
Bragging rights are up for grabs with the old F3 Derby taking centre stage in Gosford. It’s been a season to forget, especially for the hosts, with the Mariners compared to some of the worst sides of yesteryear. To put things into perspective, last weekend’s 4-1 loss at Western Sydney was the Mariners’ fifth consecutive away defeat while conceding four goals on each occasion. The highlight of the night, clutching at straws really, was Luis Garcia’s equalizer as he stooped low to header Mitch Austin’s cross expertly inside the far post. Although Newcastle’s performances have been exponentially better than that of their coastal foes, they continue to shoot themselves in the foot with ill discipline. Leading 1-0 at league leaders Brisbane, through a Leonardo penalty, and spurning an excellent chance to extend that lead – captain Nigel Boogard is caught the wrong side of Brisbane forward Henrique before bringing him down clumsily. Last man, red card, penalty – game changer! Just as they have done in recent weeks, the Jets lost the match (2-1 on this occasion) through an act of poor judgement.
The Jets will hope the saying, “you wait ages for a bus then two come along at once” rings true for them after they broke an 8 year winless drought with a nervy 1-0 win, on Australia Day long weekend. Nigel Boogard definitely sits this one out through suspension unlike his red card, a fortnight ago, which was rescinded by the Match Review Panel. No such luck this time round. The Jets will have to fight on without him as Ben Kantarovski is likely to step into the centre of defense, alongside Daniel Mullen. The Mariners welcome back goalkeeper Paul Izzo who missed last week with illness while captain, Nick Montgomery, returns from injury to try and inspire his team to victory.
Nick’s tip: Newcastle 0ah @1.82 (SBOBET)
Saturday, 9 April
Melbourne Victory v Brisbane Roar
7:30 PM AEDT, AAMI Park
League leaders Brisbane would like nothing more than to secure the premiership title, on Saturday evening, at the home of currently the most successful club in A-League history; “currently” been the operative word. The equation is simple, win at Melbourne Victory and Brisbane will even the ledger with their hosts at 3 premierships apiece. I have a sneaky suspicion that Victory manager, Kevin Muscat, will be using that as a motivational tool as his side are unlikely to improve on their current position of sixth; win, lose or draw. The hosts go into this fresh from a battling midweek result in Suwon, securing a 1-1 draw and consolidating their strong position in Group G of the Asian Champions League. The hosts are on a run of five games undefeated, in all competitions, following their resounding 4-1 win in Wellington a week ago. Roar come to town on the back of a 2-1 win over the Jets. John Aloisi’s men had to ride their luck for the second week running (following on from the last minute winner against Sydney Fc a fortnight ago) as his side should of found themselves 2-0 down with Ryan Kitto directing his header straight at Young, from point blank range. Nevertheless, the Roar showed their mettle and took full advantage when the Jets were reduced to 10 men.
After the long trip to Korea, Victory will have a tough task in dealing with the threat of a fresh and fired up Roar outfit. To make matters worse, the absence of talisman and sharp shooter Besart Berisha (suspended for 2 games) will leave a gaping hole at the point of attack. In positive news, in-form Guy Finkler and Fahid Ben Khalfallah go straight back into the side due to their non-involvement in Asia, midweek. John Aloisi has a full squad to choose from but will need to prepare his side mentally as the pressure is firmly on his men to do the job against the travel weary hosts.
Sunday, 10 April
Wellington Phoenix v Western Sydney Wanderers
3:00 PM AEDT, Westpac Stadium
The Wanderers are banking on the two Melbourne sides to do them a favour as they look to claim an unlikely second title in their short existence. First thing’s first, they must hold up their end of the bargain against a Wellington side looking to send off club stalwarts, Ben Sigmund and Manny Muscat, on a winning note. For the last month or so, the Nix have had the look of a side eagerly awaiting season’s end after a promising start to the current campaign. The 4-1 loss to Melbourne Victory was their third on the bounce and their 5th in 6 matches on home turf. At 2-0 down, the sending off of Besart Berisha gave the home side a glimmer of hope but they themselves were reduced to 10 men soon after; Albert Riera receiving his marching orders shortly after half-time. After Bonevacia pulled one back to make it 3-1, an unlikely result was on the cards but Michael McGlinchey put paid to that with a missed penalty ending the game as a contest. The Wanderers notched up a comfortable 4-1 win over the Mariners with some rare football moments that may never be repeated – 1. the normally profligate Romeo Castelen struck a shot on target from all of 22 yards that sailed into the top corner, and 2. Scott Neville found a teammate, Brendan Santalab, with a perfectly flighted cross to the back post (instead of the corner flag).
Wanderers manager, Tony Popovic, has often kept us guessing on long away trips (ie. Perth, Wellington) but we can expect his strongest starting XI with so much at stake. Although the capture of silverware is highly unlikely, a win will cement a place in the Top 4 and ensure a home final. The Nix will be playing for pride and perhaps a fair few players looking to ensure their long-term future at the club. In their last encounter, Wellington made the most of an under-strength Wanderers outfit by belting them 5-2, Blake Powell scoring four. Although the Wanderers have won only once in five trips to the New Zealand capital, they have too much riding on this and so are rightly favourites.
Nick’s tip: Western Sydney -0.5ah @1.62 (SBOBET)
Sunday, 10 April
Sydney FC v Perth Glory
5:00 PM AEDT, Allianz Stadium
Such is the unpredictability of football that Sydney FC are absolutely flying in Asia’s premier competition while they can’t buy a win domestically. The Sky Blues scratched out another W against Pohang Steelers, in midweek, with qualification out of Group H now a mere certainty. Their A-League form, however, is a completely different story with their last win coming on the 16th of January (11 rounds ago). It was another disappointing showing in front of the dwindling Sydney faithful, after going down 2-0 to a much superior Adelaide United. Perth’s remarkable season turnaround continued with a 3-2 win over league entertainers, Melbourne City. After a succession of missed opportunities in the first half, Perth turned on the style following the interval with striker Andy Keogh opening the scoring to make it 8 games that he’s netted on the spin, an all time A-League record. Glory raced to a 3-0 lead and then seemed to down tools before City staged a late fightback.
Perth will be eager for a home final but must rely on one of Melbourne City or Western Sydney slipping up. With this been the final fixture of the round, Perth will know exactly where they stand at least half an hour before kick off. Understandably, Sydney’s sole focus is the ACL so we can expect a similar side to the one that took to the field against Adelaide United, last week. Perth have won their last two trips to Sydney, their last coming back in February in a 2-1 win. Sydney marquee, Filip Holosko, has been in good form recently and will represent the biggest threat to Perth as the Slovak still harbors hopes of lining up for his nation in this year’s European Finals. For the visitors, Dino Djulbic returns from suspension to offer Kenny Lowe some added steel at the back.
Nick’s tip: Perth -0.25ah @1.85 (SBOBET)