Monday, February 18, 2008
Although Newcastle dominated the possession towards the beginning of last night's game, it was Queensland, with their pace and effectiveness on the break, who procured the best chances. A pity that, as so often happens with Frank Farina's side, their moves lacked the finishing touch. Marcinho's incredible miss in the opening minutes would prove a harbinger of things to come.
I felt that Newcastle were able to dominate possession (particularly in the centre) during the opening exchanges largely because of the isolation of Michael Zullo and Robbie Kruse on the flanks, something which has been a feature of Queensland's play at times. Once Kruse in particular started to move infield, the chances began to flow...but Zullo lacked the composure to capitalise.
One could argue that Queensland were unlucky to concede the opener, given the temporary absence of Sasa Ognenovski (easily Queensland's player of the season, incidentally) and the consequent shifting of Zullo to a left-back role, where Mark Bridge predictably got the better of him in the lead-up to Matt Thompson's strike. But shortly afterwards they should really have conceded again, when Joel Griffiths inexplicably shot at goal when a simple square ball across to Thompson would have resulted in a tap-in.
In the second half, the Newcastle of last week's major semi came out of the closet: timid, passive and unenterprising, they allowed Queensland the run of the country. Yet the men in orange were tiring, Tahj Minniecon didn't have quite the impact that he did against Sydney, and it looked like van Egmond's men were going to hold out. They came close to scoring again, too, with Troy Hearfield (not Joel Griffiths) marginally offside in that late, controversial incident.
Then, thanks to Peter Green, the game turned into high farce.
To give one nonsense penalty may be regarded as a misfortune, to give two seems like carelessness. To give no fewer than three surely indicates that the official in question should not be permitted to oversee a match of this importance again...but, as we know from Matthew Breeze's career, the A-League doesn't quite work like that.
It appeared that the tumbles of Simon Lynch and Song Jin-Hyung were awarded penalties for artistic merit. And then Michael Zullo gave a demonstration of how to win a penalty, A-League style: flash your high boot in an opponent's face, and then run straight into him.
Still, Tarek Elrich's goal provided not just legitimacy but a fine moment to finish a game in which the spectators definitely got their money's worth.
Can Newcastle go on and win it now?
It will be extremely tight. For the record, I'm picking extra time and penalties in the final...with perhaps the Mariners just holding the edge in the nerves department.
What's your take on it? was it off because Heargield was "involved" or did the linesman think Griffiths was off?
Difficult one. I'll c&p what I wrote about it on another site:
Tricky call that one.
There was a player (Bridge I think) coming back from an offside position anyway. Now I know that usually such a player is considered irrelevant as he's not involving himself in the play, but that does make things difficult for defenders (I speak from plenty of experience here): if you've pushed up and know there's a guy in an offside position as a result, you tend to switch off a bit as regards runners from deeper. In a way, the modern trend of considering "passive" offside positions irrelevant to the play forces defenders to play two separate offside traps, when you think about it. Not quite as simple as some people make out.
If Griffo was called O/S, then yes, the call was ridiculous. But I thought that Green didn't actually whistle (couldn't see when the flag went up) until Griffo passed to Hearfield, who was offside when the ball was played through.
Net result was that the goal was correctly disallowed, although probably for the wrong reason.
Please e-mail me at email@example.com. Two friends of mine and I run a mostly Houston-Dynamo-oriented blog called Nutmegged at http://nutmegging.blogspot.com. Prior to the Pan-Pacific Championships, I was hoping we could set up a two-way blogging deal where we trade information about our respective clubs. Let me know if this intrigues you. Specifically, I was thinking that we each answer a series of five questions posed by the other about the relative strengths/weaknesses/things-the-other-might-not-know about our teams. Then we put the Q&A on our respective blogs. What do you say?
In retrospect we know it was the right decision, but there's argument about why he called it. Well a good linesman would/should have called it, when he did, for the right reasons. I don't know why we assume that's not possibly what happened. We assume that the linesmen was as stupid as many of us and was calling Griffiths, who he could have seen as easily as any of us was in an on-side position.
There were two players in off-side positions if they were 'involved in play'. They were running fast, drawing defenders and creating space and options for Griffiths. That's being involved in play, and they were doing it from the beginning of the play.
Excellent call. Well done linesman. From some of the crap I've read on other forums, there are many who simply don't understand the rule.
The off-side rule is the hardest one to grasp perhaps, and it is certainly the hardest to call, but with the benefit of video, we can see quite precisely. The greyest part of the equation is whether a player is 'involved in play'. In this case they obviously, obviously were.
Can't begrudge Newcastle the match that's for sure. If the Roar can't strike, they can't expect to win.
To continue to play someone after a major blow to the head is to say there was no alternative. There was an EXCELLENT alternative, and Frank blew it. Newcastle scores while Oggy is being wrapped up.