Richard Gadsby

Author's details

Name: Richard Gadsby
Date registered: January 3, 2015

Latest posts

  1. A-League grand final: Sydney FC beat Melbourne Victory on penalties – as it happened — May 7, 2017
  2. Sydney FC 3-0 Melbourne City: A-League – as it happened! — April 1, 2017
  3. A-League: Sydney FC 1-0 Central Coast Mariners – as it happened — March 10, 2017
  4. Melbourne Victory 2-1 Melbourne City: A-League – as it happened — February 4, 2017
  5. A-League: Newcastle Jets 2-1 Adelaide United – as it happened — December 16, 2016

Author's posts listings

May 07

A-League grand final: Sydney FC beat Melbourne Victory on penalties – as it happened

  • Ninkovic hits winning penalty in decider at Allianz Stadium
  • Berisha’s opener cancelled out by Grant

12.03pm BST

It wasn’t pretty – it was never going to be on that pitch – but Sydney’s victory was no less thrilling for it. Did they deserve to win? On the night, it’s difficult to make a case for either side as outright winners – it was that close. In terms of the season, though, there can be no doubt for football traditionalists that the right side won in the end – purely for the way they’ve dominated the campaign from start to finish. It’s a tough, tough defeat for Victory but they can have no shame in the way they played, and but for the lucky draw that is penalties, they might have been celebrating even as I type this.

Anyway that’s it from me for the night – and for the season as it happens. I’ll catch you again in a few months.

11.54am BST

The managers

Graham Arnold was understandably delighted with his side’s win. “It always seems to take me three years to do this – it was the same at the Mariners… We’ve got a fantastic group of boys and I’m so happy with them and proud of them… it’s not the best way to win, but it’s better than losing. I’ve been on the end of that. My heart goes out to Melbourne Victory.”

11.45am BST

Brosque back next year

And Alex Brosque has confirmed he’s staying for at least another year too after rumours of retirement. “I will (be back), it’s a great team. Most of the team are staying – if not all. I’ll be here again next year.”

11.42am BST

Ninkovic staying?

For the cherry on the cake, Milos Ninkovic has given a strong indication that he’ll be back with Sydney FC next season. “I like these guys too much and I would like to see this team in the Champions League next year, I can’t promise anything but probably I will stay,” he said.

11.31am BST

There’s more to come but check out the match report here.

Captain Brosque speaking to the crowd now – thanking the fans and the players. “I don’t think we got anything less than we deserved,” he says before turning to Arnie. “The way you get these boys to lift every single week. It’s been incredible.”

11.27am BST

Well they got their in the end – as did my laptop, which seemed to crack under the pressure of penalties. Hats off to Victory who defied the predictions to give Sydney a real scare – they got their tactics spot on for the night and there was nothing to choose between them on the night. On the balance of the season though, no one could deny Sydney were deserving winners.

Georgevski is named Joe Marston medal winner – much to the chagrin of the celebrating Sydney fans. He was outstanding though. Sydney going up for the presentation now.

11.10am BST

Ninkovic – who else! – fires it home! Sydney have won!

11.09am BST

Vukovic guesses correctly to deny Rojas! Ninkovic will have the chance to win it for Sydney.

11.08am BST

O’Neill puts Sydney back in front.

11.07am BST

Valeri misses. Sydney are back in it!

11.06am BST

Carney bangs it home – Sydney not letting it slip away.

11.05am BST

Victory make the most of that miss. They’ve got their noses in front.

11.05am BST

Wilkinson hits it wide – Victory have an opening.

11.04am BST

Troisi cool as you like into the roof of the net.

11.03am BST

Brosque sends the keeper the wrong way with a low strike into the bottom right

11.02am BST

The huddles are over, the players are ready. A chance now for the keepers to become heroes. Sydney to go first – Brosque the man stepping forward.

10.59am BST

We’ve got ourselves a good old-fashioned shootout folks. Expect to hear the phrases “it’s a lottery” and “a cruel way to lose” shortly.

10.57am BST

120 mins: Sydney win a free-kick and the danger passes. Not long until that final whistle.

10.56am BST

119 mins: I can’t see a goal coming now – it’s actually been a game of very few chances, despite both sides going for the win. Ingham breaks through but his final shot is blocked and goes for a corner. Last chance for a winner?

10.53am BST

116 mins: Victory have only made one substitution so far – which is as confusing (tactically speaking) as it is impressive (physically speaking).

10.52am BST

114 mins: Carney with a clear chance, but he skews it wide from just inside the box. Should have done better. Ryall comes on for Buijs, who picked up an injury a couple of minutes ago.

10.49am BST

111 mins: The fans are roaring the players on during a much-needed break in play. There’s still time for a twist – but penalties are looming large.

10.46am BST

109 mins: Some tired legs out there. And some tired hands in here. Shout out to all my blogging brothers – there’s a chorus of cracking knuckles at laptops from Sydney to Melbourne. Say what you like about the quality of the game, the level of focus and commitment has been outstanding. By rights they should all be out on their feet by now.

10.44am BST

107 mins: Oof! So, so close! Troisi cracks a first-time shot off the post and it bounces to safety. Where did that come from?

10.42am BST

106mins: I should’ve saved the “Long and Winding Road” reference from my preamble for now. This is all about endurance. Neither side is backing down.

10.39am BST

A Berisha header is well saved by Vukovic and that’s it for the half.

10.38am BST

105+3 mins: Sydney finishing the end of the 15 mins strongly, but they still can’t find a way through. Rojas goes down and Zullo goes in the book – thought it was a bit harsh myself (he won the ball) but I seem to be in a minority.

10.33am BST

103 mins: Starting to get the feeling that if there’s going to be a winner, it’ll come from a mistake. A fair few tired legs out there. O’Neill makes the latest poor pass – hitting it straight to Troisi. Victory fail to make the most of it though.

10.31am BST

101 mins: Wilkinson still struggling. Khalfallah comes on for Ingham – that’s the last Victory have seen of their veteran. Off to pastures new next season.

10.30am BST

99 mins: Georgevski with a Di Canio-esque volley that slices off his boot to safety – much to the delight of the Sydney fans. The danger doesn’t pass though, Victory get a free-kick that’s chipped deep into the box – for a moment it looks dangerous, but the linesman’s flag is raised. Wilkinson goes down under a challenge from Vukovic. That’s the second time the Sydney shotstopper has cleaned out his own man.

10.27am BST

97 mins: Berisha gets a free header in the box – but he doesn’t know much about it, the ball ricocheting off a teammate’s boot and hitting him in the face. Ingham is ready to come on for Victory, who haven’t made a substitution yet.

10.25am BST

95 mins: Victory being allowed to play it around in their own defence. Highly unusual for Sydney not to apply at least a little pressure. Victory win a free-kick deep in Sky Blue territory.

10.24am BST

93 mins: Strange to see Sydney not pressing as much as they usually do high up the pitch – tiredness or tactics? Carney almost breaks through but plays a poor ball towards Matt Simon that’s easily cut out. It looked like it might have hit a divot.

10.22am BST

91mins: Here we go again. Simon goes down under a challenge from Baro, who won the ball fair and square. It’ll be interesting to see the tactics for the next 30 minutes. Will Victory settle for penalties?

10.15am BST

Time to take a quick breather – and maybe a shower because that was a pretty dirty 45 minutes.

10.13am BST

90+2mins: Who do we fancy in extra time then? Considering they brag about their fitness so much, you’d have to pick the Sky Blues – but then everyone picked the Sky Blues before the game and there’s been nothing between them. Maybe Victory’s decision to take it down a gear and save some stamina in the second half wasn’t so daft after all.

10.09am BST

89 mins: Well both teams have thrown everything at each other – including the odd elbow – but it looks like we’re heading to extra time. Carney tries to skip clear down the right but he’s tackled well. Four minutes of added time.

10.08am BST

87 mins: It’s been trench warfare out there people, possibly because the pitch does actually resemble a trench in various parts. More elbow-on-face action, though admittedly it wasn’t intentional from Brosque.

10.05am BST

85 mins: Zullo goes down after being cracked in the back of the head by his own keeper. Sydney aren’t hanging around though, they race up the other end to put pressure on the Victory defence. A free-kick relieves the pressure.

10.03am BST

10.01am BST

82 mins: Here we go. Matt Simon is coming on for Bobo. I’m sure the cool, calm head of Simon will stop things from getting out of hand *clears throat loudly*

9.59am BST

79 mins: Excellent goalkeeping from Vukovic to shepherd out Troisi. Stood his ground well in a dangerous position. Neither side seems to keen on extra time. Zullo goes in hard on Rojas sparking a sideline confrontation. Graham Arnold isn’t happy.

9.57am BST

77 mins: Geria goes in the book for a challenge on Ninkovic. It’d be interesting to see how many of today’s bookings have involved Sydney’s star man.

9.56am BST

75 mins: Victory have to be careful now, Sydney have got their tails up and are looking to finish this off in the 90… no sooner have I typed that than Troisi is played in by Berisha, but he scoops the ball over the bar under pressure.

9.53am BST

9.52am BST

71 mins: It was only ever going to take one chance for Sydney – they’ve been so clinical all year. Victory need to clear their heads and get back into this, they need to find the same intensity they had in the first half. All the momentum with the hosts at the minute.

9.48am BST

68 mins: Grant pounces on a rebound to fire home the equaliser from close range! Excellent anticipation as several players stood and stared.

9.46am BST

66 mins: A cracking ball into the box from Zullo wins a corner. Wilkinson swings it in but Buijs heads it clear. Sydney starting to turn the screw but time is running out.

9.45am BST

64 mins: This is going to be a fascinating final 25 minutes. Sydney have handled everything thrown at them this season – but this is another level of pressure. Victory almost break through but Rojas is offside when he’s played through. Poor decision making from the Victory man, he had time to check his run.

9.42am BST

61 mins: Better from Sydney, Carney making an immediate impact during a bit of a goalmouth scramble but Victory get it away. Thirty minutes to go. Victory’s tactic of slowing the game down has worked well so far, conserving stamina as we reach end game. It’s still very risky to invite Sydney onto you though.

9.39am BST

59 mins: Holsoko comes off for Carney as Graham Arnold looks to shake things up.

9.37am BST

57 mins: It’s all smiles from the Victory fans who are savouring this scoreline. Almost an hour gone and Sydney have been frustrated so far. They haven’t really created much at all in terms of clear chances.

9.35am BST

55 mins: Troisi with a cheeky chip from just inside the Sydney half… but it sails straight to Vukovic.

9.34am BST

54 mins: Yellow card for Valeri for going through the back of Ninkovic. He can have no excuses… although the tough tackling has kept Sydney’s star man relatively quiet.

9.32am BST

50 mins: Risky move from Victory. If it’s a deliberate tactic to calm the game down – it’ll give Sydney heart and more time to probe forward. The Sky Blues almost seize on a Geria mistake but a deflection steers the ball away from the onrushing strikers. Holosko tries to curl one over the keeper but it was always rising. No problem for Thomas.

9.29am BST

48 mins: The intensity has definitely gone down a notch after that blood-and-guts opening 45 minutes. Not sure if that’s a deliberate move or just a result of a few tired legs.

9.26am BST

46mins: Victory get us under way. Not quite the push-and-shove of the start of the first half but still a bit of niggle. Bit of an arm-wrestle in the middle so far.

9.15am BST

“I’m in the slightly awkward position of not really being that fond of either manager and support the Roar but to see Berisha score has tipped my hand Victory’s way. The man is a phenomenon. I also predict a red card before an hour is up.”
Phil Withall via email

The way that half finished I wouldn’t be too surprised if there was a red at some stage – although the referee has handled the pressure well, keeping tempers on the right side of boiling point with a calm hand.

9.10am BST

There you go folks, an intense first 45 minutes comes to an end and Victory have their noses in front. Expect to see Sydney the second-half specialists throw everything at them in the next 45. Catch you in 15.

9.08am BST

45+2 mins: Looks like Victory are going into the sheds a goal to the good as the last few minutes descend into a midfield scrap.

9.06am BST

45 mins: Brillante in the book now for a late challenge on Khalfallah, who screams in agony… but jumps up again quick as you like when the FK is given. The ref has handled the pressure well so far.

9.05am BST

44 mins: Sydney finally starting to get on top as the half comes to an end – to be expected considering the intensity Victory started the game. Muscat’s team have been pressing all over the park and it’s worked a treat, but it takes a toll on the legs. They just need to see out these last few minutes.

9.03am BST

42 mins: Georgevski with a cool chest down to his keeper just when Sydney were looking dangerous. Calm as you like.

9.02am BST

40 mins: This is getting a bit tetchy now. An odd mix of questionable tackles and players falling over a little too easily are causing disquiet in the stands and on the pitch… but Gillett is keeping his whistle quiet. Not a bad job in the circumstances.

9.00am BST

38 mins: Now how is that little dust-up going to affect the game? Well it’s a case of “as you were” with Troisi charging into the box and winning a corner. Rojas’s cross into the box is poor though and goes straight to the keeper.

8.58am BST

36 mins: Hold on…. Holosko has gone in the book too. Must have been a VAR decision as he’s clearly shown wiping his hand in Troisi’s face. Ironically Broxham escapes scot free. VAR continues its creep into other facets of the game.

8.57am BST

35 mins: It’s boiling over! Shirt grabbing, yelling, handbags flying everywhere – all sparked by a poor challenge from Broxham. Referee Gillett takes a moment as the heat dies out of the situation. In the end Ninkovic goes in the book, as does Troisi.

8.55am BST

33 mins: A warning for Grant after a clumsy challenge. I think I’ve written that sentence in every Sydney match this season.

8.54am BST

31 mins: Victory still the better side as we go past the half-hour mark… although every time Sydney break they look dangerous. One slip and they’ll seize on it – they’ve had that sort of season.

8.52am BST

8.51am BST

27 mins: Well it’s not the start we were expecting but Victory’s ascendence has certainly made the match more intriguing. The ball almost falls for Rojas in the box but his touch has deserted him a little today. He looks lacking in confidence – not ideal for Victory as they seem to be picking him out regularly.

8.48am BST

8.47am BST

24 mins: Well it’s been a frantic few minutes and now Khalfallah has gone down off the ball … although the replays suggest he’s made a meal of some minor contact. Sydney FC still look calm though, as well they might – they’ve been in this position before and come out of it smiling.

8.45am BST

22 mins: Khalfalla goes in the book for an elbow on Grant while challenging for a high ball. The Victory fans don’t care, scarves are swinging and they’re in fine voice.

8.43am BST

21 mins: Berisha! He’s done it again – another grand final goal for the veteran striker, shrugging off two markers to create space then drilling it low past the keeper to open the scoring. Just when Sydney were starting to look dangerous.

8.41am BST

18 mins: More pressure from Sydney, Holosko aaaalmost lays it up for Bobo for a tap-in but Victory hastily smother the danger. Warning signs for Muscat’s men.

8.39am BST

16 mins: Good keeping from Thomas who comes charging out to stop Zullo getting a clear shot. Seconds later, a wicked cross from Zullo almost catches out the Victory defence, who scramble it behind for a corner. Better from Sydney.

8.33am BST

12 mins: First decent chance goes Victory’s way. Khalfallah with a killer ball to Rojas into the box – but he opts to pull it back rather than attempt to smash it home. They get a corner out of it but Sydney deal with it comfortably and the danger passes.

8.31am BST

9 mins: Poor ball into the box from Rojas just when it looked like Sydney were on the back foot. Khalfallah didn’t even bother trying to reclaim it, the ball was well overhit. They need to make the most of these spells of pressure, they don’t come around often against Sydney.

8.29am BST

7 mins: Some good shielding from Georgevski to snuff out Sydney’s first sniff of goal. Victory have started the game with a very high intensity, it’ll be interesting to see how Sydney respond. The Sky Blues have been there and done that all season though, nothing seems to affect them in terms of belief in their game plan.

8.27am BST

5 mins: Rojas seems to be the go-to man for Victory early on, a couple of deep balls already directed his way. Nothing Sydney can’t handle but it’s a promising start from the visitors nonetheless.

8.25am BST

3 mins: Safety first from Zullo who boots it into the stands after fluffling his initial clearance. Early pressure from Victory but there’s no space in that imperious Sydney defence and eventually the ball floats harmlessly to the keeper.

8.23am BST

1min: Peeeeep! And we’re off. And welcome to the match Georgevski, who gets a boot to the thigh from Brosque. Early fireworks. A prickly start from both sides as they look to grab the game early.

8.22am BST

Looks like there’s been a flare in the Sydney end but otherwise no real crowd trouble. I’m sure certain sections of the media will lap it up though. Sydney FC are going to kick us off. Let the games begin.

8.18am BST

As the strains of Advance Australia Fair die away, Allianz Stadium erupts in noise.

Not long to go now.

8.15am BST

Fireworks, smoke and roars around the ground as the players finally stop teasing us and jog out onto the pitch. Not long to go now… though admittedly I said that about 30 minutes ago.

8.14am BST

Anyone else hear the Jaws theme when you see Besart Berisha warming up? Can he score in yet another grand final? It’d take a brave man to bet against him.

8.06am BST

8.06am BST

The decibel level in Allianz Stadium has been raised to Spinal Tap levels. Not long now, the fans are getting twitchy. Still no sign of the players on the pitch yet … can’t be long though.

7.59am BST

A lot of the predictions for this clash have quite rightly centred around the battle between Johnny Warren Medallist Milos Ninkovic and Carl Valeri. After a decent enough first season, Milos 2.0 has been a revelation this campaign and if Victory can’t contain him today, it’s hard to see how they will compete. In Valeri, however, they have one of the few A-League players with the ability and experience to do just that. Just because he’s capable of doing it, however, doesn’t mean he will. In top form, Ninkovic is unplayable.

7.50am BST

Well the pitch might be “meh” but it’s perfect football weather – blue skies with just a tinge of cold in the air. The stadium is a sea of blue, filling up well in the build-up to kick-off. Not long to go now.

7.47am BST

Here’s one for the Victory fans seeing as the club’s sneaky attempt to get it played during the warm-ups was rumbled by the FFA this week.

7.44am BST

Strebre Delovski is back in the VAR hot-seat following the controversy surrounding Sydney’s win over Perth last week. I’m sure I’m not the only one hoping we don’t hear much from him today, in fact the man himself is probably hoping the same. Imagine if another video decision goes Sydney’s way. Things could get ugly. United Airlines ugly.

7.38am BST

Looks like a huge contingent of Victory fans have made the trip north. They’re in good voice. Fair play. There’s a big police presence too, no signs of any trouble though.

7.35am BST

Team line-ups
Sydney FC: Vukovic, Grant, Wilkinson, Buijs, Zullo, Holosko, Brillante, O’Neill, Brosque, Ninkovic, Bobo. Subs: Redmayne, Dimijrijevic, Carney, Simon, Ryall

Melbourne Victory: Thomas, Georgevski, Baro, Donachie, Geria, Broxham, Troisi, Valeri, Rojas, Berisha, Khalfallah. Subs: Acton, Ansell, Austin, Mahazi, Ingham

7.31am BST

7.29am BST

Pitching in
Like a good episode of Shark Tank, a lot of the discussion this week has centred on the dodgy pitch. As predicted, the Waratahs mauled, scrummed and got soundly beaten all over the Allianz Stadium turf last night to leave it in, ahem, less-than impressive nick. It looks awful. Not exactly a great look for the FFA, but not exactly an uncommon A-League issue either.

7.26am BST

Just realised the Long and Winding Road isn’t exactly the kind of tub-thumping, fist-pumping, stadium-rocking anthem to get you in the mood for a grand final. I’m trying to think of a song like Eye of the Tiger or Final Countdown but with more Guardianista class and … actually let’s just go with Eye of the Tiger. Now press play, close your eyes, and imagine Kevin Muscat jogging up the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

7.24am BST

Evening everyone, so we’re on the final approach, the chequered flag is in sight and the plus-size diva is preparing to sing. And if recent clashes between Victory and Sydney FC are any gauge, we should be in for a corker of a grand final today – the Big Blue writ large.

I would say it’s been a long and winding road to get to this year’s A-League decider but for Sydney it’s been more like a traffic-free run down the Western Motorway. One league defeat, 17 points clear at the top, and domination of this year’s team of the season awards tells the tale. Just like house prices, it feels like the Sydney bubble will never burst. If anything, the Sky Blues are just starting to peak – they’ve conceded just one goal in their last seven games, and scored 12 in their last five. Ominous stuff.

5.21am BST

Richard will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s how David Squires sees today’s big game:

Related: David Squires on … the A-League grand final between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Apr 01

Sydney FC 3-0 Melbourne City: A-League – as it happened!

  • Second-half blitz from Sydney seals victory
  • Bobo hits brace after Brosque opener

12.09pm BST

Just when you thought they couldn’t get any better…

Another second-half masterclass of high-pressing, high-tempo football from Sydney FC as they roar towards the finals. I’m trying to think of any potential chinks in their armour, something that might offer hope to the other title contenders, but the only weakness I could see was the pitch. It was brutal.

11.48am BST

That’s all she wrote. Ominous, ominous stuff from Graham Arnold’s men – they are looking unstoppable.

11.45am BST

90 mins: Someone call the vet because City need to be put out of their misery. Bobo adds the cherry on the cake for the Sky Blues, heading home at the back post from a deep cross.

11.44am BST

89 mins: Bobo latches onto a pass from O’Neill and tries to dink it past the keeper – but it’s deflected for a corner. City clear it comfortably enough and head on the counter attack. Somehow, after being on the attack moments ago, Sydney have got their entire team back in the box waiting to defend. Ninkovic eventually makes the block. That’s why they’re champions.

11.41am BST

86 mins: Kamau has worked hard since he’s come on, but he can’t find a way through. Grant outfoxes him this time, harrying him until Sydney get the ball back. It’s been a typical Sydney performance, hard work and high pressing – with several players who can finish off a chance. They are in flying form heading into the finals.

11.38am BST

84 mins: Genreau with a strike that forces Vukovic into a smart save. A goal for City now would make the last five minutes interesting. I can’t see it happening though, more likely to go the other way. Talking of making things more interesting, Matt Simon is coming on. Enough time for a booking? Off comes Brosque.

11.37am BST

82 mins: Just counting down the clock now, both teams seem to have gone down a gear. Caceres comes on for Colazo in a last roll of the dice for City.

11.33am BST

80 mins: Ooo, it was almost three. Carney lashes one into the sidenetting after some poor scrambling in defence. Dimitrijevic comes on for Brillante.

11.32am BST

77 mins: Having said that, I’m just starting to feel like the Sydney defence have taken their foot off the gas. A few uncharacteristic errors creeping in, nothing too serious though. A bandaged-up Cahill comes off for Arzani.

11.29am BST

76 mins: Is it possible that Sydney are actually playing better now than they have done all season? It’s a frightening thought.

11.28am BST

75 mins: Grant flashes a powerful shot straight at Bouzanis, who saves it comfortably. City race to the other end and win a corner. They haven’t given up, but Sydney have just been too good. Calver gets a head to the corner… but it flies backwards for another one. The second corner is overhit and goes out for a throw.

11.26am BST

73 mins: City still down to 10 men as Cahill’s cut keeps him off the pitch. O’Neill booked for taking too long with his throw. You’d think he’d want to hurry things up while they have a numerical advantage. Sydney still in total control.

11.25am BST

70 mins: Sydney’s first sub of the night, Holosko off for Carney. Cahill needs some treatment for a nasty cut above his eye. He’s had a quiet night.

11.24am BST

69 mins: Valkanis in deep discussion with his staff. It’s going to take something special to turn this around. There’s a glimmer of hope when Kamau breaks into the box, but a wall of Sky Blue eventually forces the ball back out of the danger zone.

11.22am BST

67 mins: Game over? It’s got that feel to it now. City were more than a match for Sydney in the first half but it’s been one-way traffic since the break. If City don’t pull a goal back soon, I can’t see it ever coming. Ninkovic tries from distance after some nice footwork, but it flies over. The Cove don’t mind though, they’re still celebrating the second goal.

11.18am BST

64 mins: Zullo finds himself in acres of space on the left and whips an excellent ball into the box. There’s a very slight deflection but it goes straight to the back post where Bobo is lurking like the predator he is. He doesn’t miss from that distance, sliding it home with ease.

11.17am BST

63 mins: Sydney have got their tails up now. They can smell blood. Kamau gets his first touch, looking to find a way through down the right. He’s eventually forced to pass backwards and Sydney win possession.

11.15am BST

61 mins: Changes ahoy. Kamau comes on for Fitzgerald in a like-for-like swap. City looking to shake things up.

11.14am BST

59 mins: The question now is how will City respond? After defending solidly for so long, it was a pretty poor effort to let a throw-in bounce all the way to the six-yard box. Ninkovic chips one into the box but it’s cleared. City under pressure.

11.12am BST

57 mins: A long throw eventually bobbles its way to Brosque who nips in front of his marker and pokes it past Bouzanis. There was a sense that was coming. The Cove are in full voice as Sydney take a grip on the game.

11.10am BST

55 mins: An odd, lofted cross into the box from O’Neill. Bouzanis plucks it out of the sky harmlessly. City go right up the other end but the move breaks down courtesy of an offside.

11.07am BST

53 mins: Speaking of which… Franjic is forced into a clearance on the line from Grant’s shot after a goalmouth scramble. Bouzanis was stranded after making a previous save. Sydney starting to crank up the pressure.

11.06am BST

52 mins: Sydney don’t seem to be in a rush to get a goal, but then why would they? Considering their track record in second halves this season, they must be pretty confident a chance will show itself.

11.05am BST

50 mins: For all their defensive woes in the absence of Michael Jakobsen, City have looked pretty good at the back today. I’ve even had to revise my opinion of Muscat, who has looked solid throughout. #kissofdeath

11.03am BST

48 mins: Scrappy start to the half so far, both teams seem to be looking for that killer pass but both defences have answered everything asked of them… with the possible exception of Grant’s passback in the first half. Less said about that the better.

11.00am BST

45 mins: Peeep! And we’re back, slightly late due to a cameraman obliviously waiting around on the pitch as the players wait to kick off. Graham Arnold doesn’t look best pleased. But then he never does.

10.43am BST

That’s it for now folks, no goals in the first half but at the risk of jinxing it, I suspect that will change in the next 45. See you in 15.

10.42am BST

45 mins: City struggling to find a way out of their own half, Sydney’s forwards not giving them an inch of space. Eventually Colazo runs clear and wins a corner on the right. He’s arguably been their most dangerous player. The corner comes to nothing though, Sydney have been solid in defence. A minute of added time to come.

10.39am BST

43 mins: Half-time ahead and City will probably be thankful for it – Sydney are just starting to build up a head of steam. Brosque booked for a foul on Brattan.

10.37am BST

42 min: Zullo with a deep cross that finds Holosko in the box. He meets it with his head, but doesn’t get enough on it and it slips wide. Great footwork from Ninkovic on the left to set up the cross for Zullo. No wonder Sydney are so keen to keep him for next season.

10.35am BST

39 mins: Great challenge from Muscat to stop a Sydney counter-attack. Just starting to sense that the

Premiers are getting on top as the half-time break looms.

10.34am BST

37 min: Muscat with a header that goes well wide. It was a difficult one, the ball was a little behind him when he connected with it, he actually did well just to steer it in the right direction. Sydney decide to take things down a notch, passing it around, cool and calm, probing forward then bringing it back.

10.32am BST

35 mins: I’m still not sure who’s on top here, chances at either end with Sydney arguably having the better ones in the last 10 minutes or so. All that intensity is finally starting to create a few cracks.

10.30am BST

33 min: Ninkovic! Ooo, a lovely feint to get away from his marker, then the Sydney star hits a dipping effort that just goes over the bar. I think Bouzanis had it covered to be fair but it would have been awkward.

10.27am BST

31 mins: Zullo with a wicked cross that Bobo heads just wide under pressure from Tongyik. Good defending at the near post. A few openings just starting to show themselves.

10.26am BST

30 mins: Fornaroli with a scissor kick… that flies harmlessly away into the sea of Sky Blue known as the Cove. Laughter from the Sydney fans. Would have looked spectacular had it come off. But it didn’t. All that was missing was a swannee whistle.

10.25am BST

28 mins: The game needs someone to grab it by the scruff of the neck, it’s been an evenly matched arm-wrestle so far. Cahill maybe? Is he capable of doing that these days?

10.23am BST

25 mins: It’s been a bit of a see-saw game so far, just when one team looks to be pressing home an advantage, the momentum starts to tilt the other way. Nothing between them so far. We’ve got a game on our hands. Colazo almost clean through after a cross from Genreau… but he’s marginally offside.

10.20am BST

23 mins: Ooo, that could have been a clanger. Calver saves Grant’s bacon after a shocker of a passback that Cahill almost latches onto. Calver gets a crucial touch to get it to safety. Big Timmy would have been clean through.

10.19am BST

21 mins: There’s a high intensity to the game yet neither side has looked dangerous in the final third so far. Some silky skills from Bouzanis under pressure to throw a charging Grant off the scent. Shades of Schmeichel snr from about 20 years ago.

10.16am BST

10.13am BST

17 mins: City seem to have adopted a similar/less intense high-pressing tactic to Sydney’s, which you’d think would lead to openings at either end. Both teams have defended well so far though, nothing on offer from open play in terms of chances. Not yet anyway.

10.12am BST

15 mins: That little hold-up seems to have slowed the pace of the game, which was a little overly frantic in the opening 10 minutes. Brillante whips a free-kick into the box but it’s easily cleared by the City defence.

10.10am BST

10.08am BST

12 mins: Bouzanis charges off his line to punch away a deep cross into the box. City eventually clear it, but it looks like Holosko has been hurt by the big shotstopper in the challenge. There’s a pause in proceedings as the physio comes on to have a look.

10.07am BST

10 mins: The hosts respond well to that little scare, putting their foot on the ball and calming things down a bit with some simple passes in the defence. They eventually work it all the way into the penalty area but Bobo’s eventual shot is easily blocked by his marker.

10.05am BST

8 mins: Oooof! Fornaroli curls it past the wall and it smacks the outside of the post, bouncing away for a goal-kick. Warning sign for Sydney.

10.04am BST

7 mins: City playing the ball around nicely in the Sydney half. Fornaroli has a crack from the edge of the box but its miles wide. Not that it matters, Peter Green has given them a free-kick for a challenge just before the strike. Dangerous position.

10.01am BST

5 mins: It’s been a bit of a physical start from both sides, hard tackling and free-kicks the order of the day. Pretty 50-50 so far, City possibly shading it.

9.59am BST

3 mins: Zullo gives away a free-kick on the left-side of the box. Colazo looks like he’s going to whip it in. Cahill lurking. But it’s too close and low to Vukovic who dives on it. Good first touch for the keeper.

9.57am BST

1 min: Peeeeep! And we’re off. Sydney get us underway and Rose greets Holosko with a meaty challenge for a high ball. Free-kick. That’ll have woken him up.

9.55am BST

Not long to go

The players are coming onto the pitch, which doesn’t look in great shape to be honest. I’ve said that far too often this season. Doesn’t bode well for free-flowing football, although it might lead to a few nerves in defence.

9.50am BST

Top scorer

The loss of key defender Michael Jakobsen to a suspiciously lengthy calf injury has certainly hampered City in the run up to the finals but the form of Bruno Fornaroli will give them hope of breaking down that stubborn Sydney defence. Can he overhaul Berisha in the race for the golden boot? Just one goal in it at the minute.

9.48am BST


Melbourne City: Bouzanis, Muscat, Franjic, Tongyik, Rose, Genreau, Colazo, Brattan, Fitzgerald, Cahill, Fornaroli. Subs: Sorensen, Caceres, Kamau, Retre, Arzani

9.44am BST

Last time

Here’s something a little more encouraging for City fans, footage from the last time this fixture was played in Sydney. City came within a whisker of ending the Sky Blues’ unbeaten run before it had really begun – only to be denied by a late penalty.

9.41am BST

FT: Newcastle 0-3 Wanderers

So the Wanderers have continued their run of form with a comprehensive victory over the Jets that puts them just two points behind City in third. It also means just three points separate third place from sixth. The prospect of City finishing sixth would have been laughable a couple of months ago…

9.38am BST

Speaking of April Fools

The A-League got into the spirit of April 1 with a couple of ‘hilarious’ *cough* stories. Judging by the outrage directed at the Melbourne Victory-Big Bash yarn, they seemed to have fooled a few people.

9.33am BST

Evening everyone, thanks for joining me tonight for a fixture that may well be repeated in a few weeks when we finally get into the nitty gritty of finals football. Whether that happens or not basically depends on City, who seem to think the word “consistency” is some sort of April Fools prank to be avoided. Do they have the talent to beat this season’s runaway

Premiers? Certainly. But the fact that they’re a whopping 23 points behind the league leaders tells you just how often they’ve failed to hit the heights they’re capable of this season.

For Sydney, the opposite has been true, and anyone who thought Graham Arnold’s premiership steamroller might veer off the road once he picked up the Premiers Plate got a rude awakening in Perth last week – when the Sky Blues rode right over poor Glory in a 3-0 shellacking. With Arnold also eyeing up a record points haul for the season, and urging his players to play for their finals places, a lack of motivation doesn’t seem to be an issue. City will have to be at the top of their game to get something from this one.

4.27am BST

Richard will be with you shortly. In the meantime, check out Joe Gorman’s stroll down memory lane with NSL pioneers Canberra City.

Related: Canberra City: a blueprint for current A-League expansion hopefuls | Joe Gorman

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Mar 10

A-League: Sydney FC 1-0 Central Coast Mariners – as it happened

  • All the action from Sydney FC’s 1-0 win over the Mariners at Allianz Stadium
  • Holosko hits the winner in tight clash

11.00am GMT

It wasn’t exactly a classic performance but the ruthless Sydney machine rumbles on towards the minor premiership – potentially delivering a fatal blow to the Mariners’ finals hopes as it does. There were chances and a few nice tricks, but the only thing the Sky Blues lacked was a killer touch – although some of that can be attributed to the excellent Necevski, who answered (almost) everything thrown at him. The Mariners defence worked hard to restrict the hosts too, making them work for every opening while offering up only a handful of errors on a poor pitch in an unusually disciplined display. That said, the Sydney strikers were a little off colour as well. Not that Graham Arnold will be too worried. And despite what he says, you can bet he and the team will be celebrating if Victory drop points tomorrow.

As for the Mariners, no one really expected them to get something from this game, but they didn’t disgrace themselves either. It’s perhaps a measure of how far they’ve come since that early season 4-0 thrashing at this venue that they matched Sydney for long periods this time out – although Necevski had a large part in that. With Adelaide up next, they’ll still feel they’re not out of the running just yet, but another defeat in their last few games and it’ll be curtains on another campaign.

10.47am GMT

90+3 mins: I stand corrected. A corner at the death from the Mariners but – surprise, surprise – it’s cleared comfortably, this time from Matt Simon. It comes back into the box from a throw but, despite a few nerves, Sydney hoof it away and that’s all she wrote.

10.45am GMT

90+2 mins: It’s game over and both teams know it. The Mariners just haven’t been incisive enough to trouble the hosts. Pain fails to keep the ball in play from a through-ball down the left wing and that could be their last chance.

10.44am GMT

90 mins: Time running out for the Mariners. They’ve played well without seriously threatening the Sky Blues.

10.42am GMT

10.41am GMT

87 mins: Sydney finishing the game as the stronger side although the Mariners are still trying to attack when they get the ball. They’re finding it very difficult get any sort of penetration though. A deep free-kick into the Sydney box is scooped up comfortably by Vukovic.

10.39am GMT

86 mins: Another good flying save from Necevski, if a little showboaty (the free-kick was on target but lacked power). He pokes it away for a corner, which comes to nothing.

10.38am GMT

85 mins: Simon uses his muscle to create an opening – and then wins a free-kick about 20 metres out. Dead centre. It might be a little too close to the goal to get it up and under.

10.37am GMT

83 mins: Buijs delivers a free-kick into the box but a high header floats into Necevski’s grateful arms. Sydney look the more likely to score now the game’s opened up. The Mariners goalkeeper has had an impressive night though.

10.35am GMT

81 mins: Bobo races down the right and curls it towards the bottom corner – but Necevski is equal to it. A good stop although the Sydney man should have done better. That’s his last act. He comes off for Simon.

10.32am GMT

77 mins: Sydney FC turning the screw now, the intensity going up a notch as the Mariners look to get back into the game and Sydney look to kill it off. Ibini cracks one off the bar. It bounces just outside the line and away to safety. Necevski didn’t even see it.

10.29am GMT

75 mins: A very poor effort from Ibini is saved by Necevski. It was struck just at the right height for the keeper, not especially powerful either. Fair play to Necevski for choosing the right direction though. Why did Ibini take it? Very odd. The Mariners are still in this.

10.28am GMT

74 mins: Rose brings down Ibini in the box, poor defending from the Mariners from a fairly innocuous attack. A shame because Rose has played well. Ibini made the most of the contact but Rose had his arms wrapped around the Sydney forward. He can’t have any complaints.

10.26am GMT

72 mins: A Sydney corner highlights the differences between the two defences. It’s not the greatest, but it bounces through a swathe of players before the danger finally passes. Wilkinson (or someone in a Sky Blue shirt) would have put his foot through that if it had been at the other end, safety first.

10.24am GMT

Now you’re talking. A guaranteed booking at the very least.

10.22am GMT

69 mins: I’m not sure why the Mariners are even bothering with high balls into the box – the Sky Blues are dominating in the air. Another thumping defensive header clears the potential danger. Holsoko comes off for Mariners old boy Ibini.

10.20am GMT

67 mins: Montgomery with a chip into the box from a free-kick but it’s defended well by Sydney. Again. The game has certainly opened up though, hopefully we’ll see a few more chances in the last 20 minutes.

10.19am GMT

65 mins: Easy as it is for me to bemoan the lack of urgency and directness from both sides, the state of the pitch isn’t exactly helping the flow of the game. Too many bobbles for the players to feel confident in their passes and runs.

10.17am GMT

64 mins: Galloway with some nice twists and turns to keep the Mariners out of danger despite the attention of two Sky Blue shirts. The visitors swing forward and, for once, they have men in support. Risky but necessary.

10.15am GMT

62 mins: Here we go. Pacey Pain on for big Bingham. The Mariners going for it.

10.14am GMT

61 mins: Bobo with a strike but Rose defends well enough to make sure it’s not a clean connection and the ball bobbles out for a goal-kick.

10.13am GMT

60 mins: Well we’re on the hour mark and surely Okon will be thinking of making a change some time soon. For all their huff and puff they’ve barely tested Vukovic.

10.11am GMT

58 mins: Sydney on the attack now. They haven’t done much of that so far this half, although that will surely change as the game goes on. Free-kick to the Sky Blues as Zullo goes down under a harsh O’Donovan tackle. Too far out for a shot. It’s drilled into the box and bounces harmlessly off a press of yellow shirts.

10.08am GMT

56 mins: There’s been no real urgency in the game since that early surge from the champions-elect. The good news is that will have to change at some stage soon if the Mariners want to get back into this game. Sydney content just to mop up each attack and probe away when a mistake is made.

10.07am GMT

54 mins: The Mariners have certainly had their fair share of possession, and look quite comfortable playing it on the deck. Until they get in the final third – then they seem to run out of ideas. Story of their season.

10.04am GMT

52 mins: O’Donovan offside from a chip over the top. Vukovic got there first anyway. Come on boys, a bit more va va voom please.

10.03am GMT

50 mins: Sydney on the attack now, muscling past Mariners players without really opening up enough space to get a clear shot away. Necevski flaps a little at a cross but it’s harmless enough in the end.

10.02am GMT

47 mins: Another slow start, much like the first half. The Mariners with a few early touches but not in dangerous positions. They try to find a way through the Sydney defence but Sky Blue shirts close out each potential gap like the cliffs in the original version of Clash of the Titans.

9.59am GMT

Peeeeep! And we’re back, the Mariners getting us under way. They need to pick up where they left off – and then go up a gear. If they can.

9.44am GMT

And that’s it for the first 45 – not quite the mauling it threatened to be in the opening exchanges but Sydney will still be the happier of the two sides. Good finish from the Mariners though. More of the same and this might actually get juicy. See you in 15.

9.42am GMT

45+1 mins: The Mariners are finishing the half well, although every time Sydney get a sniff they look more dangerous. Not much injury time.

9.40am GMT

44 mins: O’Donovan fails to connect with (what would have been) a fierce header in the box. That could, perhaps should, have been an equaliser. He left Buijs standing.

9.39am GMT

41 mins: Little bit more excitement to finish the half, both sides looking to snatch one before the break without really creating a clear chance. Sydney still look more likely to score but the Mariners are willing to commit men forward for the first time this half.

9.37am GMT

39 mins: Buijs blocks a potentially dangerous cross to the near post from O’Donovon. Montogomery whips in the corner but it hits a wall of Sky Blue. Sydney race up the other end, with the Mariners defence bursting a vessel to keep up – and they just manage to keep the danger at bay. Just.

9.34am GMT

37 mins: Good response from the Mariners, with a spell of pressure around the Sydney box. It comes to nothing, a poor ball to Roux on the right flying out for a goal-kick.

9.32am GMT

35 mins: Ooo, almost 2-0. Bit of a scramble in the box and it falls to Grant – who can’t get it past a wall of yellow and blue bodies. It falls to Brosque who smashes it over.

9.30am GMT

9.29am GMT

31 mins: Not sure if it’s a good thing or not that the Sky Blues haven’t gone for the jugular. It’s not thrilling football at the minute but at least this is still a contest – if the hosts had forced the issue, it could be game over by now. Then again, the Mariners might have found a gap in a counter-attack and equalised. Coulda, woulda shoulda.

9.26am GMT

28 mins: Sydney don’t seem in any rush to add to their lead, passing it around in their own half. Can’t really blame them. It’s not exactly the gung-ho, attacking flair game the fans love but it’s effective and with this Mariners defence, you always sense they’ll get a few more clear chances without pushing too hard to look for them.

9.23am GMT

26 mins: Solid defending from Rose to cut out a throughball to Bobo. If that had gone past him it would have been Kenny Loggins for the Mariners (in the danger zone).

9.22am GMT

9.21am GMT

25 mins: Bingham fails to connect with a deep cross into the box from Appiah, to be fair he was under pressure from Grant. Have I been too quick to write-off the Mariners? They’re looking a little more competitive. Let’s hope they can make a game of this.

9.18am GMT

22 mins: It’s a poor ball in, overhit by Galloway, but the Mariners fight to win a corner out of it. A bit better from the visitors. The corner comes to nothing but the last few minutes have been their best so far.

9.18am GMT

21 mins: Only the most one-eyed Mariners fan would have backed the side before this game, but on the evidence of the opening exchanges I’d suggest even they would be revising their opinion. They’ve had a fair bit of possession but in non-dangerous areas. When Sydney go forward, they always look like they might score. The Mariners get a free-kick off Grant though. This is a chance to cause some chaos in the box.

9.15am GMT

18 mins: Well the gas has gone out of the game for a spell… probably not the worst thing in the world as far as the Mariners are concerned, it could have been over in half an hour if Sydney had kept the pressure up.

9.13am GMT

I’m slightly worried about the pending award of the league title (Premiers Plate not being part of me lexicon) to Sydney. Having spent the season having them lauded as, potentially, the greatest side in A League side of all time. They aren’t. The majority of the time they play an overly aggressive, visually moribund game of attrition. A little like the German side in Escape to Victory.
Phil Withall via email

The German side from Escape to Victory? You’ve made some valid/defensible points but egads that’s harsh.

9.09am GMT

13 mins: A great ball by Brillante sends Grant away on the right but the Mariners defend it well. They’ll need more of that if they’re going to get back into this.

9.07am GMT

11 mins: Another chance for Sydney but Necevski is equal to the shot. This is not looking good for the Mariners, Sydney have carved them open several times already.

9.06am GMT

10 mins: Ferreira gets a ball into the chest and goes down in agony. He should be able to shake that off though… and indeed he’s running around a minute later.

9.05am GMT

8 mins: It begins! Zullo with a fantastic cross into the box, curling it right into the path of Holosko, who fires home. Great ball, great run, great finish. No chance Necevski.

9.03am GMT

7 mins: Well that almost went against the script, O’Donovon setting up Appiah but he can’t get his shot past Vuck in the Sydney goal

9.02am GMT

5 mins: Sydney making most of the early running. No surprises there. The ball has barely been out of the Mariners half so far. Here come the visitors with a foray though, winning a free-kick and knocking it around the halfway mark. They’ve put their foot on the ball and are playing it around well. Should settle their nerves. For now at least.

8.59am GMT

3 mins: OOOooo! Buijs comes inside of Roux, and curls it just over the bar. Great pass by Grant to find him. Early warning sign for Central Coast.

8.57am GMT

Peeeeeep! And we’re off. This could be a long 90 minutes for the Mariners… or it could be the launchpad for fairytale turnaround that jumpstarts their finals campaign. Can’t see the latter happening though I must admit. Slow start so far. As you can tell by my rambling.

8.56am GMT

Kick-off looming. The Cove in good voice as the Sky Blues get ready in the centre circle.

8.54am GMT

Bit harsh, I’ve always found it quite endearing. And if they’re sacrificial lambs for Sydney tonight, would that make them the Laminators? Now that does sound daft.

8.51am GMT

Despite their position on the ladder, the Mariners haven’t been hammered too many times this season… but they won’t need reminding that their biggest loss came in this fixture back in October, just when the Sky Blues steamroller was hitting top gear. Necevski in particular won’t want to see that last goal again. So here it is.

8.46am GMT

Before this gets in danger of becoming too silly. Here are tonight’s line-ups. It looks ominous for that Mariners defence.

8.44am GMT

Bear with me on this, but tonight’s match feels a bit like the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, starring Graham Arnold as Indy, Kevin Muscat’s head as a giant rolling boulder and the Premiers Plate as that melted World Cup-looking thing on a weight-sensitive plinth, which will be triggered if Sydney get things wrong tonight. And you can bet old Arnie will be celebrating long into the night if they do win the Plate this weekend. Right Arnie?

Not a chance, no chance. That’s what other teams want. The other teams want us to celebrate and take our foot off the pedal and that’s not going to happen. It’s about driving this team to be better and better and we know we’ve still got a lot left in us. Graham Arnold

8.39am GMT

So here we are folks, the race is almost run, the chequered flag is in sight and Sydney FC are so close to snatching the Premiers Plate you can almost hear the drip, drip, drip of Graham Arnold salivating. The fat lady hasn’t sung just yet, but Adele is in town so someone chuck her one of those fake pregnancy suits and she can give it a go while we wait.

The equation for Sydney fans is simple enough. A win against the Mariners today and a slip by Victory tomorrow will be enough to seal the minor premiership – not that there’s any real doubt they’ll claim it at some stage anyway. With respect to Victory, even Barcelona couldn’t comeback from this one.

4.02am GMT

Richard will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s David Squires’ latest cartoon, buddy.

Related: David Squires on … the world game changers: a recruitment advert for new A-League clubs

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Feb 04

Melbourne Victory 2-1 Melbourne City: A-League – as it happened

  • Berisha goes from villain to hero for Victory
  • Controversy surrounds late winner

11.03am GMT

It’s far too soon after all that late drama for me to give any sort of composed overview of what we just saw – but I’ll take a deep breath and do my best. Let’s forget about the first half (it shouldn’t be too hard) – but what a finish. I’m still not entirely sure what happened to Cahill, and I can certainly see why City will feel cheated of a point (even if it was probably the right decision in the end), but full credit to Victory for the way they fought to the end. How much will that change their season? Four defeats would have been shattering, but instead they’ve beaten their local rivals just when all seemed lost. With some easier games coming up, they could really build a head of steam heading into the finals.

But where now for City? It almost feels like they’ve written this season off, as though they’re waiting for a new manager to come in for next year and see what happens then. Certainly they’re a shadow of the team that won the FFA Cup just two months ago. They’ll still get through to the finals, and with the talent at their disposal they can trouble any team in the league, but a spark seems to be missing, and such a deflating defeat certainly won’t help reignite it.

10.51am GMT

And that’s it! Or is it just the start? City are not happy. The controversy of that last goal will run on and on and they’re venting their frustration at the officials. It should be interesting to hear Vakanis’ thoughts afterwards. But when it’s all said and done, Victory have taken the three points.

10.48am GMT

90+3 mins: City not done yet, although Victory have too many men in their own box for there to be any clear danger. Troisi races up the other end and wins a corner. Rojas and Troisi have been Victory’s best players tonight. To be honest, I’ve completely lost track of players getting booked here. There seems to be cards flying around left, right and centre. Fornaroli the latest.

10.46am GMT

90+2 mins: Berisha comes off for Mahazi. What a rollercoaster it’s been for him – from the depths of despair to last-ditch glory.

10.45am GMT

90 mins: Well my head’s spinning. Who could have seen all this drama coming after that dredge of a first half? Victory pushing for a third. Vakanis is not a happy man. I can see the argument for both teams to be fair.

10.42am GMT

88 mins: Now Cahill has been sent off! Good gawd what’s going off out there? What a finish to the game. Off Cahill jogs, presumably for something he said after all that controversy. He hadn’t even been subbed on yet. How have City thrown this one away?

10.41am GMT

87 mins: Moments after equalising, Victory think they’ve scored another – but the linesman has raised his flag! Controversy reigns, players yelling for all their worth but the goal is given – an own goal by Muscat. Amazing scenes! It looks like the lino raised his flag too early as the cross from Geria never reached Berisha (who was offside). Instead it was accidentally rolled into the net by Muscat’s slide at the near post. It’s a clear own goal, so technically there was no offside – but would Muscat have made the sliding tackle if Berisha hadn’t been lurking behind him, which would mean Berisha was interfering with play? I think it’s the right call in the end – but I would be fuming if I was Vakanis. This game has reached boiling point.

10.39am GMT

86 mins: Berisha sticks it away! Rojas the danger man with some great work on the left. He pulls it back for Berisha who sidefoots home from six yards. He’a a very, very relieved man.

10.37am GMT

10.35am GMT

83 mins: Troisi with a wicked free-kick that dips at the last minute… but not far enough, landing just on top of Bouzanis’ net. He’s been one of Victory’s better players.

10.34am GMT

81 mins: Muscat yelling for some reason after giving away a clear free-kick. Great work from Rojas. Victory plugging away.

10.34am GMT

79 mins: Victory need to show some more urgency if they don’t want to slip further off the pace on the ladder. They’re paying the price for not going for the win earlier in the match. Broxham comes off for Georgievski.

10.31am GMT

77 mins: While the first half dragged, this half has whizzed by. Only 15 minutes for Victory to try and claw something back here. It’s City in the ascendancy though. Brattan with a shot that has Thomas scrambling a little.

10.29am GMT

75 mins: Victory finally get a bit of possession. They’ve looked a little shellshocked for the last five minutes. City look a lot more confident on the ball now, while Victory are staring down the barrel of four straight defeats.

10.27am GMT

73 mins: Well we’ve got a game now. Berisha will be desperate to make up for that penalty miss too. City on top for now though, and they’ve earned a free-kick on the edge of the box, just left of centre. Fornaroli takes it, but it skims wide of the post.

10.24am GMT

70 mins: Kilkenny scores with a deflected effort! Brandan with the pullback for Kilkenny, he tries to place it but it takes a wicked deflection that completely wrong-foots Thomas and bobbles into the net. A scrappy looking goal but they all count. It’s been coming too – I just wasn’t sure who for.

10.21am GMT

67 mins: A deflected shot from Kilkenny earns City a corner. They take it short, cross it for Fornaroli… and win another corner. Thomas palms it away, it falls to Brattan but he smashes it over. All action at either end. Momentum shifts every few minutes,

10.19am GMT

65 mins: Kamau comes on as City look to add some pace. The game has changed completely from the first half. City try to power through the Victory defence but they just manage to stand firm. Fun times people.

10.17am GMT

63 mins: Bouzanis guesses correctly to deny Berisha! Amazing stuff as the Albanian misses from the spot again. Fantastic dive from the shotstopper, not the greatest penalty in the world but not the worst either. Full credit to the keeper.

10.16am GMT

61 mins: Rojas brought down by Brattan in the box. Clear penalty. Victory with a big, big chance.

10.15am GMT

61 mins: Brattan crosses a free-kick into the box…except it isn’t a cross. It dips and swerves and just glances the top of the crossbar on its way out for a goal kick. Victory take a breath and make a change – Khalfallah comes off for Austin.

10.13am GMT

59 mins: Oooo, a couple of decent chances for City denied by the keeper. This is more like it, chances at either end. The crowd can sniff the change in the air, more of a crackle in the stands now.

10.11am GMT

58 mins: Some activity on the City bench. Cahill and Kamau both stretching. The game has definitely opened up but neither side seems composed enough to make the most of it.

10.09am GMT

56 mins: Broxham gets on the end of the corner, or rather gets under it, and the header sails harmlessly over the bar.

10.09am GMT

55 mins: Tongyik with a composed header to clear a potentially dangerous cross from Broxham. This is better viewing. Corner for Victory.

10.07am GMT

53 mins: Khalfallah with a shot from the edge of the area that goes straight to Bouzanis. It’s opening up a little though, a few genuine chances being created. More of the same please.

10.06am GMT

52 mins: Some nerves in the Victory box as a free-kick into the danger area eventually finds Tongyik on the right. He smashes it back into the area but a Victory foot clears the danger. A little bit more promising though.

10.04am GMT

50 mins: Geria goes in the book, some might say it was overdue, after yet another clumsy challenge on Brandan.

10.04am GMT

49 mins: Huzzahs! A first shot on target! A few ricochets around the City box and the ball falls kindly for Troisi – he hits it sweet enough but it’s straight down the throat of Bouzanis.

10.02am GMT

48 mins: Tongyik with his first touch. Didn’t look especially confident to be honest, a slightly lacklustre pass back to the keeper that he struggles a little with. Is that where a goal’s going to come from? A mistake?

9.59am GMT

46 mins: And we’re off again. A couple of early long balls don’t bode well for the trajectory of the game.

9.58am GMT

Tongyik comes on for Jakobsen who really looked like he was struggling. If he’s out for a while, that could be a big blow to City’s finals chances.

9.57am GMT

The top statistic tells you all you need to know. Either Vakanis or Muscat will have to take a risk if this game is going to improve in the second half.

9.44am GMT

That’s it, a nervous half comes to an end with the game all square. Both teams have been unconvincing where it counts, although they haven’t shied away from a challenge. Catch you in 15.

9.42am GMT

45 mins: Well the last five minutes have been the best of the game, shame the half is almost over. City waste a corner and that’s got to be close to half-time. City happy to pass it around as the clock ticks down.

9.40am GMT

44 mins: Berisha! Oh dear oh dear. The ball is whipped across the face of goal, the keeper can’t reach it and all Berisha had to do was get a touch. Somehow his leg seemed to move in slow motion though and the ball had flashed past him before he could bury it. Best chance so far.

9.39am GMT

43 mins: The yellow cards are racking up now. Muscat this time for throwing himself a little too forcefully into a tackle with Bozanic. Not quite the passion we were looking for.

9.37am GMT

42 mins: Now Malik goes into the book for a fairly obvious foul. Not sure why City are complaining. It was clear as day.

9.36am GMT

41 mins: Ansell goes into the book for a tough challenge on Brandan (again). It’s good to see Ansell back on the pitch again, if only because if he scores I can use the “Ansell, he’s so hot right now” footage from Zoolander.

9.35am GMT

38 mins: Oooo! Fornaroli latches on to a Kilkenny cross to nod home, but he’s fractionally offside and the linesman gets it right. Hopefully that sparks something.

9.34am GMT

37 mins: Nice work from Troisi to run the ball all the way from his own half and win a throw deep in City territory. He’s been one of the better players tonight, although it’s been slim pickings. This game really needs a goal to liven things up, but so far chances have been at a premium.

9.32am GMT

35 mins: Not for the first time, Muscat gives away a foul and Victory have a dangerous free-kick on the left edge of the box. Troisi chips it into the danger area but Bouzanis is equal to it, punching it away confidently.

9.30am GMT

9.29am GMT

33 mins: Victory probing away, but they fail to find a way through and Jaksobsen makes it back onto the pitch. He doesn’t look particularly healthy though, little bit of limping – never a good sign.

9.27am GMT

31 mins: Jakobsen seems to be struggling with a leg injury. He’s come off for some treatment but City will be praying he’s OK, he’s so crucial to their defence. The game continues without him, Victory looking to make the most of the numerical advantage. Risky time for City.

9.25am GMT

29 mins: City finally get a bit of space to play the ball around – unusual as Victory have been pressing them all over the pitch up until now. The ball eventually finds Brandan, who takes a touch on the edge of the box and curls a shot well over the bar. Better from City even if the final execution was poor.

9.23am GMT

26 mins: Geria and Brandan tussling again on the right (for Victory). That’s looked like City’s best route to goal so far, the Victory right-back seems under pressure every time his opponent gets a clean run at him.

9.22am GMT

23 mins: The last five minutes have been very scrappy, little thought going into some of the passing and runs. It’s screaming out for someone to take the game by the scruff of the neck to dictate things. No one’s putting their hand up though. A long ball over the top is just slightly overhit and Bouzanis smothers the danger on the edge of his area.

9.17am GMT

20 mins: So far this game has gone exactly as you’d expect from two talented teams struggling for confidence – just a few nerves letting down the final ball, and the defence’s look a little spooked as well, despite some good passages here or there. The first goal could prove even more important than usual.

9.14am GMT

18 mins: Excellent challenge from Franjic to deny Khalfallah, who was clean through. The City man just got enough on it to steer it away from his rival. Khalfallah arguably should have had a better first touch, but all credit to Franjic for tracking back so quickly.

9.11am GMT

16 mins: Brandan goes down under one such challenge (in the box too), taking a head to the side of his own that leaves him writhing for a few minutes. Referee doesn’t see it as illegal though.

9.10am GMT

14 mins: Some nice football from City in Victory’s final third but so far the home side have defended well… although Geria is riding his luck a little with some forceful challenges.

9.09am GMT

12 mins: Less haste more speed needed by both teams at the minute, someone just needs to put a foot on it and dictate play. Where’s Mooy when you need him? City win a free-kick about 40 yards out. It’s taken short and they’re forced all the way back into their own half – then bring it all the way back to win a throw close to the corner flag. Good work.

9.05am GMT

9 mins: City win the first corner of the match after a good run from Fornaroli. It’s curled into box, fools Broxham, but Brandan isn’t expecting it and it bounces off him to safety.

9.03am GMT

7 mins: Neither side really on top in the opening exchanges, although there seems to be a smidge more mongrel in the way Victory are playing. Oooo… Rojas runs onto a long ball from Bozanic, nicks it over the onrushing keeper but it lands on the top of the net. First real chance.

9.01am GMT

5 mins: Troisi whips in a free-kick… but like some bad mash potato it’s overwhipped, and sails to the other side of the pitch away from any danger. Fornaroli gets a nasty blow on the shin but manages to walk away. It’s bubbling away. All perfectly above board at the minute though. Bruno might disagree.

8.59am GMT

3 mins: Franjic on the receiving end of a crunching (but legal) tackle from Baro. That’s what we like to see at the start of a derby. Bit scrappy in the early stages.

8.57am GMT

1 min: Peeeeeeep! And we’re under way. Victory get us started, immediately losing possession with a deep punt into the City half that sails straight out. They get it back though and Berisha almost gets to a cross on the right but he’s fractionally offside.

8.53am GMT

‘Stand by Me’ blares out of the sound system as the teams take the field. The fans seem in fine voice anyway even if the numbers aren’t quite as high as usual. Not long to go now.

8.49am GMT

So it’s with a not-unexpected ‘auf wiedersehen’ that Victory fans this week waved goodbye to winger Max Beister, who has flown back to Germany on extended compassionate leave after just nine A-League appearances. It was such a promising start too, with a goal on debut.

I would like to thank Kevin Muscat and all the Melbourne Victory players and staff for allowing me the wonderful experience of playing in Australia at this club … Unfortunately, some things in life are bigger than football, and the best thing for me is to return to Germany.”

8.44am GMT

Speaking of Melbourne derbies, this is the second one this weekend. Kind of. For those interested, the Dandenong derby on Friday night finished up with Thunder running out 4-1 winners over City in the Jim Mimeti Cup. A hat-trick from the prolific Brandon Barnes did the damage. A few names from the night might ring bells with A-League fans – Kalmar, Colosimo, Vargas, Sarkies, Dugandzic… Some good footage of the goals here if you’re logged into Facebook.

8.42am GMT

8.40am GMT

Is four (potentially five) derby games too much in one season? There’s less excitement bubbling around this fixture IMO than previous instalments but I don’t think it’s quite reached the stage of calling it the Meh-bourne derby yet. Derby fatigue? Or just a result of the stuttering form of both teams? Possibly a mixture of both. You can bet the mood would be different if they were both challenging for top spot. Anyway, here’s some action from the last game, when Victory came from behind after Cahill’s opener (who else?).

8.38am GMT

So let’s leap straight to the line-ups because the big news is the golden forehead himself, Tim Cahill, is on the bench. That doesn’t mean we won’t see him at some stage, but it looks like reports earlier in the week of him struggling with soreness after coming off after 64 minutes against the Jets weren’t quite the mind games I suspected they might be. Of course, given his penchant for showmanship, Victory fans will be wary of a late goalscoring cameo. Even so, it’s a blow for City.

Team news
Melbourne Victory: Lawrence Thomas (GK), Jason Geria, Nick Ansell, Alan Baro, Leigh Broxham, Oliver Bozanic, James Troisi, Carl Valeri (c), Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Besart Berisha, Marco Rojas. Subs: Georgievski, Austin, Mahazi, Ingham, Acton
Melbourne City: Dean Bouzanis (GK), Manny Muscat, Ivan Franjic, Neil Kilkenny, Osama Malik, Michael Jakobsen, Nicolas Colazo, Fernando Brandan, Anthony Caceres, Bruno Fornaroli (c), Luke Brattan. Subs: Cahill, Tongyik, Retre, Kamau, Sorensen

8.29am GMT

Evening A-League fans, is anyone in Melbourne getting a sense of deja vu this week? Federer champion once more at Rod Laver, Springsteen playing for a second night at AAMI Park, and another clash between City and Victory on the cards – a fixture that comes back around so regularly there’s a picture of it under ‘boomerang’ in the Macquarie Dictionary. In fact it’s so regular I’m clearly scraping the barrel for interesting ways to start this preamble.

Tonight’s Melbourne derby, the fourth this season, comes less than two months since the previous match – but how times have changed. In the build up to that game, both teams were riding high and still had hopes of challenging Sydney FC for the Premiers Plate. Fast forward to tonight and both clubs’ ambitions have nosedived faster than a conversation between Turnbull and Trump. And with the A-League endgame in sight, this clash has become about much more than bragging rights for two teams stumbling towards a finals berth. Defeat for Victory would be their fourth on the trot and give both City and Roar genuine hopes of nicking that all-important second spot on the ladder. Defeat for City would not only effectively end their chances of reaching the top two, but also leave them looking just a little nervously over their shoulders at the prospect of slipping outside the top six altogether – something that would have been unthinkable in the aftermath of their FFA Cup triumph in December.

11.28pm GMT

Richard will be here shortly. In the meantime, check out the latest on FFA’s inability to have the Fifa deadline for governance reforms pushed back.

Related: Fifa reject FFA’s bid to delay reforms on Australian football governance

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Dec 16

A-League: Newcastle Jets 2-1 Adelaide United – as it happened

  • Newcastle Jets 2-1 Adelaide United at McDonald Jones Stadium
  • Nordstrand strikes in injury time to spare Duncan’s blushes

11.03am GMT

Where to start with that one? Hats off to Newcastle for battling right to the end. They’re in the top six now after back-to-back wins and, who knows, with confidence building and quality players returning from injury, they might well stay up there.

But it was an analysis-defying performance from Adelaide. Did someone hear a whistle at the 90-minute mark and figure the game was over? They just seemed to clock off. The Reds dominated possession, had several clear chances and towards the end had Newcastle on the ropes – yet they got what they deserved purely for that bizarre final three minutes.

10.49am GMT

Unsurprisingly, that’s it. Newcastle have won it with almost the last kick of the game. Duncan at the other end of the pitch looks like a very relieved man.

10.48am GMT

90+4 mins: And that IS the winner! Nordstrand nicks it in injury time, making no mistake where his two teammates failed just moments earlier. A clinical finish, side-footing it past the keeper into the bottom corner.

10.46am GMT

90+3 mins: No… THAT should have been the winner! Hoole goes clean through but hits the outside of the post. How did he miss?

10.45am GMT

90+2 mins: That should have been the winner! Brown in a one-on-one with the keeper but it’s a poor effort straight at Galekovic who blocks it.

10.44am GMT

90+1 mins: Mileusnic comes on for Cirio as Adelaide make a last roll of the dice/eat up more time.

10.43am GMT

89 mins: Late corner for the Jets. Leilei flicks it in but a good punch from Galekovic clears the danger. The Jets keep the pressure up but Boogaard commits a cynical foul just as the Reds are looking to break away and that’s that.

10.41am GMT

87 mins: Not long to go, and a share of the spoils would probably be about right. Leilei comes on for Nabbout – who deservedly gets a big round of applause. He’s been the best player on the pitch.

10.39am GMT

85 mins: Like new year fireworks in the rain, this game is starting to fizzle out. Adelaide look the more likely to nick it – especially as Duncan is clearly rattled by that error. If I was Amor, I’d be telling his team to pepper the goal from all angles.

10.37am GMT

82 mins: Adelaide look a lot more confident since that slice of luck to get them back in the game. Is that the moment when they get their old magic back and charge back up the table? Probably not, but it’s definitely lifted them.

10.33am GMT

81 mins: Hoffman with a free header at the back post, but the angle is too fine and he can only find the sidenetting. It was a definite chance though, he might have been put off by his own man (Brown) lurking behind him.

10.31am GMT

80 mins: Ugarkovic with a glancing header from distance but it’s too high and Galekovic watches it sail over the bar. Is there another goal in this game? It feels like it, although it’s tough to say who’s more likely to nick it.

10.30am GMT

78 mins: Kitto comes on for Guardiola as Adelaide finally make that change.

10.30am GMT

77 mins: That goal has changed the whole complexion of the game, there’s a little bit of nervousness creeping into the Jets defence.

10.29am GMT

75 mins: Some of the fire has gone out of the game, though that might be an intentional ploy by Adelaide who are passing it around with a little bit more confidence now.

10.28am GMT

73 mins: The Duncan howler is currently on repeat on my Twitter feed. It get worse with every viewing.

10.24am GMT

70 mins: The Jets on the attack at the other end, winning a couple of corners as they look to hit straight back. There’s a bit of a scramble from the second one but Adelaide get away with it.

10.22am GMT

68 mins: Dear oh dear. A stinker from Duncan. A free-kick from Isaias is curled in straight to the keeper’s chest – but instead of catching it, Duncan goes for the punch and it flies off the bottom of his fist, hits the deck, then bounces into the roof of the net. Adelaide have had enough chances to say they deserve that.

10.20am GMT

66 mins: Adelaide pushing and probing for an opening. A great ball through finds Henrique and Hall nicks the back of the legs juuuust before he reaches the box. Free-kick on the left for Adelaide.

10.17am GMT

64 mins: Time for Adelaide to change things up. The subs are warming up. Henrique again very close to going clean through from a curling Carrusca pass – but he controls it with his arm.

10.15am GMT

61 mins: The Jets whip a free-kick into the box – but the referee blows for a bit of push and shove and Adelaide are off the hook. The pace has slowed down again, though chances are still coming. Boogaard makes a fantastic block to deny Guardiola at the back post. It didn’t look pretty but the ball was bouncing at an awakward height and he didn’t have many options under pressure.

10.10am GMT

58 mins: The substitute almost makes an instant impact – catching the defence flatfooted (most of them looking to the linesman for help), then cracking a shot on the edge of the box straight at the keeper.

10.09am GMT

57 mins: Nordstrand on for Clut as Newcastle make the first change of the game.

10.08am GMT

55 mins: Carrusca slices one wide for Adelaide. The Jets still look the more likely to score but Adelaide have had more than enough chances to get off the mark. Newcastle win a corner and Galekovic just manages to punch it to safety under pressure.

10.06am GMT

52 mins: Terrible miss from Hoole. So bad it made me chuckle. The Jets man charges into the box full of intent but the final ball slices off the side of his boot and flails wide to the relief of Galekovic.

10.02am GMT

49 mins: Another Jets free-kick after a failed Adelaide counter-attack. They play it short, and pass it all the way back to Duncan… who takes a nervous touch before passing it out wide. They don’t do defensive passing quite as fluently as Adelaide.

10.01am GMT

47 mins: The Jets still doing all the running, looking more urgent to get it up the pitch. Hoole pounces on an error and sets Brown free. He can’t get a decent shot away but he still wins a corner.

9.58am GMT

Peeeeep! And we’re back. Adelaide with the kick-off and – surprise, surprise – they’re happy to play it around the back four. That possession counter keeps ticking higher and higher – but the scoreline stays the same.

9.47am GMT

Right now, I’d say the chances of Adelaide claiming back-to-back titles are about as realistic as this.

9.45am GMT

It has been pretty blatant. The Jets would have been clean through a couple of times if not for a some cynical trips on the halfway line.

9.43am GMT

The whistle blows and the Jets jog off with their heads up. You can tell which team is winning from body language alone. Catch you in 15 mins.

9.41am GMT

45 mins: Henrique is cutting a frustrated figure as he gives away an offside. A couple of inches and he would have been clean through. That could be their last chance of the half.

9.40am GMT

43 mins: A little bit of possession from Adelaide goes to waste when Henrique catches Brown with a stretched leg. The free-kick finds Hoole on the right (again sunning himself in miles of space) but he can’t find the target. Poor shot really, but under pressure.

9.38am GMT

41 mins: Half-time looming and the Jets are looking reasonably comfortable. Adelaide are giving them acres of space in the middle of the pitch, very little pressing from the midfielders.

9.35am GMT

39 mins: Duncan is almost caught out after taking a poor first touch. His second touch, under pressure, could have gone anywhere – luckily it goes straight to the boot of Boogaard, who kicks it out. Safety first. Again.

9.33am GMT

37 mins: Boogaard with a great sliding tackle to deny Henrique. He’s already made a big difference for the Jets. No nonsense, simple stuff – but he does it well.

9.32am GMT

35 mins: Adelaide look like they’ve had the stuffing knocked out of them. Clut with a glancing header but it barely troubles Galekovic. The Jets have opened them up far too often.

9.28am GMT

9.28am GMT

31 mins: Adelaide were carved open like a turkey at Christmas. That’s happened far too often this season and is the reason they’re in the predicament they’re in. All the more galling is it was somewhat against the run of play.

9.26am GMT

29 mins: Nabbout with the opener… although he took his sweet time. Clut is slotted through and times his ball to Nabbout perfectly just as the defender commits himself. It leaves Nabbout with a one-on-one with the keeper – and he takes an age to get it under control before picking his spot and passing it into the net. The recovering defender very nearly saved the day for Adelaide.

9.23am GMT

27 mins: The Jets trying to get back into it now, although their passing is not quite as fluid as Adelaide. Hoffman ends up in the book after an, admittedly unintentional, studs-up challenge following a poor first touch.

9.21am GMT

24 mins: Adelaide have had two thirds of the possession in the last 10 minutes. Hardly a siege but in this weather it only takes one mistake under pressure to open the door. The tempo seems to have settled a little since that opening 20 minutes, Adelaide putting their foot on the ball and knocking it around… until La Rocca cuts down Clut and gives away a free-kick.

9.18am GMT

22 mins: It’s chucking it down out there – and Adelaide are raining crosses into the box. McGowan jumps to connect with a deep free-kick – but he leaps suspiciously high and is penalised for climbing up Boogaard’s back. Jets holding on a little bit.

9.16am GMT

20 mins: Another corner for Adelaide, Carrusca whips it in but a solid defensive head clears it way outside the box. When it’s pumped back in, Guardiola is clearly offside and the whistle blows.

9.14am GMT

17 mins: Henrique under pressure in a race to get to the ball first but his deflected shot crawls inches wide as Duncan watches on helplessly. From the corner, they hit the post with a free header. Adelaide starting to get on top with a spell of pressure.

9.10am GMT

15 mins: The Jets seem intent on whipping balls into the box, but they just aren’t quite connecting with the forwards. Nabbout is the danger man so far. Meanwhile Adelaide are still lurking with intent, still a subdued version of their title-winning selves though.

9.07am GMT

12 mins: It’s been a pretty open game so far, the Jets edging it. Nabbout breaks through on the left after timing his run to perfection – but his delivery into the box isn’t quite so perfect, curling the ball tamely into the keeper’s hands. Not his usual standard.

9.05am GMT

10 mins: Holland is furious – John Tomic furious – after a 50-50 collision with Carrusca. The Adelaide man seemed to go over the top of the ball. The ref gives the free-kick the other way and the resulting shot whistles past the post.

9.03am GMT

7 mins: Bit better from Adelaide, Elrich and Carrusca both denied by swinging defensive legs in and around the Jets area – then Boogaard puts his foot through it. Safety first.

9.02am GMT

9.01am GMT

5 mins: More danger from the Jets with crosses into the box but Adelaide just about escape, somehow. If the Jets could finish they’d be dangerous.

8.59am GMT

3 mins: Oooo! Duncan gets a fingertip to a shot to poke it onto the post and deny Cirio an early goal. The subsequent corner fails to beat the first man and the Jets escape. Early action at both ends.

8.58am GMT

2 mins: Elrich gets his head on the cross before it can reach Hoffman at the back stick. No real danger.

8.57am GMT

Peeeeeep! And we’re off. Newcastle making most of the early running, in pretty safe areas as far as Adelaide are concerned. But the Jets have an early free-kick from about 35 yards out.

8.55am GMT

8.54am GMT

Poor Friday night weather and a clashing schedule with the carols in King Edward Park means it could be a fairly silent night in the stands. That was seriously the best pun I could come up with. The teams are out now anyway, kick-off imminent.

8.49am GMT

Did anyone else feel that an excellent performance by the Jets last week was drowned out by the noise of pundits frantically wringing their hands over what was wrong with Perth? I’ve been as guilty as anyone of writing off the Jets this season – but they could have won by more and Mark Jones’ post-match comments regarding the return of Daniel Mullen, Nigel Boogaard, Andrew Nabbout et al gave me pause for thought…

It’s not rocket science. You take five or six starting players out of any team in the world, and the team’s going to struggle. If we keep playing the same way [we did against Perth], it would be nice to sneak into the six.

8.46am GMT

If Adelaide do manage to turn things around and fight their way back up the A-League ladder, it will be even more remarkable this year seeing as they’ve just been given the draw from – well, maybe not hell but a suburb within commuting range of the hell CBD – in the Asian Champions League. Of course, a win against Jeonbuk Motors or Jiangsu Suning could also regalvanise their season. So let’s raise that half-full glass to Adelaide on their ACL quest.

Related: Tough draws for A-League sides in Asian Champions League group stage | John Duerden

8.44am GMT

Team News
Newcastle Jets: Duncan, Mullen, Hoffman, Boogaard, Ugarkovic, Hoole, Poljak, Brown, Vujica, Nabbout, Clut. Subs: Cowburn, Ma, Nordstrand, Koutrambis, Clark

Adelaide Utd: Galekovic, La Rocca, McGowan, Garuccio, Elrich, Carrusca, Isiais, Holland, Cirio, Henrique, Guardiola. Subs: Regan, Mells, Hall, Mileusnic, Kitto

8.37am GMT

A little reminder of what happened the first time these two met back in October. It’s worth a look just to watch the hapless comedy of errors that led to United’s equaliser – Jack Duncan pulling off a perfect slide tackle against his own defender to set up the goal for (heyyyy) Makarounas. Marvellous stuff.

8.28am GMT

Evening everyone, thanks for joining me for tonight’s clash between two teams eager to get past the burly bloke manning the door to the top six, but struggling to remember which pocket they put their finals credentials in. Not that Gui Amor has any qualms about manhandling authority figures.

And while the top six might seem a little bit of a stretch for a couple of clubs who were propping up the rest of the table recently, stranger things have happened… like this time last season when Adelaide were in the same position, went on what the experts call a “stonking run”, and ended up winning the whole shebang. Not that there’s been much evidence of a similar revival for the Reds this year.

11.55pm GMT

Richard will be with you shortly. In the meantime, check out the latest A-League cartoon from our genius in residence, David Squires.

Related: David Squires on … booing Tim Cahill and Santa’s A-League naughty list

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