Monday, March 08, 2010
And Then There Were Three
Wellington deserve great credit for emerging triumphant from the sudden-death gang of four below the top two. They have truly been the outstanding success story of the fifth A-League season, their crowd numbers and football likewise impressive. Paul Ifill has been the league's best import since Carlos Hernandez, and although his finishing was not up to its usual standard against the Jets, you still knew that he was the man likely to make the difference...as indeed it proved. A word of congratulation, too, for Andrew Durante: one of the most habitually under-rated players in Australian football, he has certainly shown his quality this term.
The possibility of the Phoenix taking out the toilet seat is becoming a strong one, much to the potential embarrassment of both the FFA and the AFC. But overcoming Sydney FC will still be a tough ask, despite the fact that Vitezslav Lavicka's team has lost some of its cohesion with the loss of Steve Corica.
Mark Bridge didn't quite convince in the No.10 role, although his goal was superbly taken. Given that the Brosque-Bridge combination up front looked so menacing in the middle rounds, and given that John Aloisi has developed something of a penchant for dropping behind the front line, would it be an idea to play Aloisi in the hole against Wellington? He is far from a natural No.10, of course, but none of the other candidates have fitted the bill (although Karol Kisel did quite well there for a while in the final regular-season game).
Sydney can certainly have no complaints about the result, despite those two penalty claims for hand-ball; twice in the second half Melbourne were denied one-on-ones with Clint Bolton due to a flag-happy linesman. Not that these premature adjudicators will ever stop raising their flags until FIFA finally sees sense and allows access to video technology for disputed goals...but I digress.
It is out wide that Wellington could well do the damage against Sydney; Seb Ryall looked far from comfortable against Melbourne (not surprising given his lack of first-team action this season), and although Sung-Hwan Byun had his best game of the season going forward, he is still not entirely trustworthy at the other end. Most importantly of all, though, Wellington have patently gotten into the habit of winning...and at this stage of the season, that can be hard to break.
Set against this is Sydney's impeccable record against Wellington this season, which all the players, not to mention the two coaches, will remember. It should be a beauty.
I thought Sydney played really good football in that first half. Sydney had a 3rd goal in them, it was a shame they could not find it. It was also interesting to see how much Sydney went back to Keller to lead the distribution from the back, he seemed to lead the tempo between patient build up and more direct play - which started at around the 35min mark of the first half.
The worst thing about it all is losing to Melbourne, they are like the Uruguay of domestic football. Negative, play-acting, counter-attacking tactics and the less said about their fans the better. I can handle losing to Gold Coast, they have a better team with good playmakers and positive tactics, but Melbourne...
I would hardly say Melbourne are negative, play-act and solely rely on counter attacking tactics. Did you not see them dominate the last 20 minutes of regular time and most of extra time. In retort I would Sydney were a little negative in their attempts to shut down the best and most creative attacking midfield the A-League has ever seen.
Vigs out for half the season, Jesic & Ontong the full season, Bridges out for the end of the season & the rest.