Richard Gadsby

Author's details

Name: Richard Gadsby
Date registered: January 3, 2015
URL: http://www.theguardian.com/football/a-league

Latest posts

  1. Sydney FC 3-0 Melbourne City: A-League – as it happened! — April 1, 2017
  2. A-League: Sydney FC 1-0 Central Coast Mariners – as it happened — March 10, 2017
  3. Melbourne Victory 2-1 Melbourne City: A-League – as it happened — February 4, 2017
  4. A-League: Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers – live! — January 14, 2017
  5. Melbourne derby: Melbourne Victory 2-1 Melbourne City – as it happened — December 17, 2016

Author's posts listings

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

minor
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

Line-ups

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

minor
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

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/apr/01/sydney-fc-vs-melbourne-city-a-league-live

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

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/10/a-league-sydney-fc-v-central-coast-mariners-live

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 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

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/feb/04/melbourne-victory-v-melbourne-city-a-league-live

Jan 14

A-League: Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers – live!

11.11am GMT

A fair result? Probably. And when the dust settles, neither time will be especially unhappy with the way things panned out. Nor will Melbourne Victory for that matter.

For the Wanderers, they’ve held the league’s runaway leaders in their own backyard and got some measure of respect back for that 4-0 drubbing earlier in the season. Can it be a catalyst for a charge up the table into the finals? Only if they start finding the back of the net some time in the very near future.

10.59am GMT

That’s all she wrote! Honours even. The Wanderers could have edged it in the second half but they’ll be happy enough with a point.

10.57am GMT

92 mins: Clisby closes out Ibini for a throw. This is it surely. Ibini whips a ball in but Janjetovic is there, solid as ever, much to the Cove’s chagrin.

10.55am GMT

90 mins: Attendance of 40,143. Not too shabby, just a shame there haven’t been any goals… (that’s me deliberately tempting fate by the way)

10.54am GMT

89 mins: Janjetovic dives at the feet of Carney to shut out a Simon pass. The keeper just earned himself a few more snakes.

10.53am GMT

88 mins: Simon picks up a booking for a late challenge. It wouldn’t have felt like a derby game if he hadn’t seen yellow at some stage.

10.51am GMT

86 mins: Wanderers create some danger in the Sydney box but there’s far too much blue and not enough red in there for it to turn into anything more. They end up with a corner, but nothing comes of it. Hamill comes on for Cornthwaite.

10.49am GMT

85 mins: Parp! Ibini tees up a half volley that sails harmlessly over. Bobo comes off for Simon. Should make the last five minutes interesting.

10.47am GMT

83 mins: Sydney now with a free-kick on the left side of the box, about 25 yards out. Carney whips one in but it’s poor and cleared. Not convincingly though and there’s a few nerves as Wanderers throw bodies on the line to keep the hosts at bay.

10.45am GMT

81 mins: No sooner have I said that than the Wanderers create three quick half-chances that leave Sydney reeling. Brilliant bit of keeping from Vukovic to smother the danger. Both keepers have been fantastic tonight.

10.44am GMT

80 mins: Who’s got the skill to pinch a winner then? Someone? No one? Wanderers have arguably shaded it this half, but I’ve still got that nagging feeling that Sydney FC might pop up with a late winner from somewhere. They’re having that kind of season.

10.41am GMT

78 mins: Great cut-out tackle from Dimas from a low-cross into the box. I think it was Bobo waiting to pounce if he’d missed. Brosque comes off for Carney.

10.40am GMT

76 mins: Aspro cuts out a charge down the right from Ibini after a slightly skewed pass makes him check his run. It’s been that kind of night for the Sky Blues, the final ball just hasn’t been there.

10.38am GMT

74 mins: Good work from Vukovic to come rushing out of his area and clear a dangerous ball over the top before it can reach Nichols. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there’s been nothing between the teams tonight, which is a compliment to Wanderers rather than Sydney FC.

10.36am GMT

10.34am GMT

70 mins: Looks like Ibini is warming up for Sydney. Will he be the difference? He’s definitely got the talent to win a game. Interesting images of rubber snakes being thrown onto the net behind Janjetovic. He’s getting the full Taylor Swift treatment. The keeper has seen the funny side though. Ibini on, Holosko off.

10.32am GMT

69 mins: They’re getting closer though! Neville with a screamer under pressure from 20 yards, but Vukovic is equal to it – tipping it over for a corner.

10.31am GMT

68 mins: Clisby with a (let’s be generous) “shot” that flies high and wide over the bar. It’s not hard to see why the Wanderers have struggled to find the back of the net.

10.30am GMT

66 mins: Bobo takes a first-time shot but he can’t get it past Janjetovic. The goalkeeper has kept the boo boys quiet tonight. Well… quieter.

10.29am GMT

64 mins: First sub of the evening – Jumpei on for Scott. Can the Wanderers force the issue?

10.26am GMT

62 mins: Ironic cheers ahoy as Janjetovic slices one out of play. The Cove have been waiting for that all night.

10.26am GMT

61 mins: Bobo with an attempted scissor kick. It would have looked spectacular if it had come off. But it doesn’t. Instead he just sits there on the turf as the ball trundles out off his ankle.

10.24am GMT

59 mins: Against expectation, the Wanderers seem to be getting better this half. In fact they’ve been the better team. Sydney still seem to be waiting for that forced mistake to present itself further up the pitch.

10.22am GMT

10.20am GMT

55 mins: Oooo! Sotirio blasts one over the bar from about 20 yards. It never really threatened Vukovic but it was a warning shot for Sydney.

10.18am GMT

53 mins: Is anyone else starting to get the feeling that neither side would be particularly upset if this one finished all square? There’s not much in the way of urgency from either team so far, unless you count the standard “high pressing” game of Sydney FC.

10.15am GMT

50 mins: Well that’s Arnold’s pre-march prediction gone. Nichols with a glancing header that forces a sharp stop from Vukovic – his first proper save of the game. That’s as dangerous as the Wanderers have looked. They’ve started the half well.

10.13am GMT

48 mins: There’s been a similar feel to the start of the second half as there was to the whole of the first – a tussle in the middle as both teams try to force an error from the other side. The Wanderers have probed and probed and probed but they still can’t find an opening and the attack falls apart as they try to play a killer ball and fail.

10.10am GMT

46 mins: Away we go. Can the Wanderers keep up the pressure against the famously fast-finishing Sydney? We’ll see soon enough. Janjetovic playing just in front of the Cove now. Should be interesting….

10.09am GMT

Looks like I’m on my own with saying that wasn’t a penalty against Zullo in the first half. But like all good belligerent pundits, I’m sticking to my guns. Did it hit his hand? Yes. Could he have done anything about it? No. It had already hit him before he knew what was happening. IMO. It looks worse in slow-mo because he’s trying to shield his face as he gets out of the way. Then again, as a former defender, I’m bound to say that.

9.53am GMT

And there we have it. A couple of good saves have kept Wanderers in it, but then Sydney FC have had a couple of scares themselves. Nothing in it at the minute. Catch you in 15 mins.

9.51am GMT

44 mins: Well it’s not exactly been fireworks on the pitch (or flares for that matter) but the fans are still in fine voice as we approach the break. Can Martinez create something with a jinking run? No. No he can’t. Sydney win the ball back then get a free-kick close to the halfway line. That could be all she wrote.

9.48am GMT

42 mins: Grant walking a fine line after another tackle goes through the back of Sotirio. Popovic would probably be more pleased than Arnold with how things have gone so far. No clear opportunities but they’ve held their own against the league leaders. Just.

9.46am GMT

40 mins: Half-time on the horizon and all-square would be about right. It’s been more of an arm-wrestle than a full-on UFC bloodfest. Wanderers still look a little nervous when they’re pressed so high up the pitch by Sydney. They’re not alone in that regard though.

9.45am GMT

9.43am GMT

36 mins: There’s not been much between the teams, but Sydney FC look the more dangerous when they do break. That’s been the only difference really though, and some of that is down to confidence. Grant goes in the book for a clumsy foul on Sotirio.

9.41am GMT

34 mins: Well we’ve not seen much in the way of shots but there’s still been enough action to keep fans glued. Both sides seem not exactly nervous, but certainly a little tense, like they’re waiting for mistakes from each other. In fairness, there have been a couple. Maybe that’s part of the plan, let the occasion create the openings. Wanderers win a corner after some probing but it’s cleared confidently.

9.38am GMT

31 mins: For all their huff and puff, Wanderers haven’t really found a way through the Sky Blues defence. A mistake from Aspro almost allows Sydney to break clean through but the Wanderers just about recover in time.

9.35am GMT

29 mins: The Wanderers play a quick free-kick to keep the pressure up, their outlook has completely changed in the last five minutes. Can they maintain it though? Sydney FC will always create chances so you need to take yours when you get the chance. Even as I’m typing this, Sydney sweep up the other end and win a corner. It comes to nothing, but just a warning to the Wanderers that they need to make the most of their spell of dominance.

9.33am GMT

26 mins: They might not have got the penalty they wanted, but that little bit of controversy seems to have sparked the Wanderers. A few minutes ago, Sydney FC were turning the screw, since then it’s been all Wanderers. The leaders look a little ruffled.

9.31am GMT

24 mins: Bit of a let-off for Sydney FC. The pundits are saying it was a penalty but I don’t think Zullo had much of a chance to get out the way. He was turning away from the ball and had his arms tucked into his chest. Definite corner though. They get another corner a few minutes later but fail to beat the first man and the danger passes.

9.29am GMT

22 mins: After a bit of push and shove, the Wanderers finally take a short free-kick. It’s then drilled into the box, hits Zullo’s hand and flies out. Penalty? Corner? The ref says goal kick. Baffling decision.

9.27am GMT

19 mins: Wasted opportunity for Sydney. Brosque the man at fault with a poor cross after a speedy counter-attack. Ominous stuff though. The Wanderers need to start asking questions of Sydney or they’ll end up getting swamped soon. As it is, they’ve got a free-kick on the edge of the Sydney area for a handball. A chance?

9.24am GMT

17 mins: The boos might increase a couple of decibels after that little spell of brilliance from Janjetovic. At the risk of jinxing him, he’s handled the pressure well. The Wanderers get a spell of possession and, wisely, decide to pass it around the back, taking some of the pace out of the game.

9.21am GMT

15 mins: Great save from Janjetovic (if a little overly acrobatic) from a dipping header off a corner. Pressure mounting on Wanderers, but they’ve withstood it well so far.

9.20am GMT

14 mins: The first signs of Sydney starting to up their game. A couple of corners come to nothing, but then Holosko steals in for a low cross and knocks it goalwards only for Janjetovic to save it – not that he knew much about it.

9.19am GMT

12 mins: Holosko with his first sight of goal, but his drilled shot is just diverted off target by the stretched leg of Aspro. Great run, even better tackle.

9.16am GMT

10 mins: A promising bit of pressure, sparked by some nice movement from Martinez, comes to nothing for the Wanderers. Nothing in it as both teams battle for control of the midfield. Sydney passing it around the back, they don’t seem in any rush to force the issue but then why would they? Confidence is high and they have so many goalscoring options they can afford to wait for one to spring up. Grant almost breaks through but just can’t get on the end of the pass.

9.13am GMT

7 mins: Both teams playing with gusto but the aggression has been kept on a leash. So far. Neither side in the ascendancy, and no sniffs of goal yet either.

9.12am GMT

5 mins: Every touch Janetovic gets is met with a round of booing. No surprises there, it’s just a question of how long the Cove keep it up. It’s been a little scrappy so far, although that’s more to do with the harrying and chasing of both sides rather than any obvious errors.

9.09am GMT

3 mins: Sotirio wins a foul from Calver on the left flank, a little bit of experience on show there as he clearly played for an FK without making it look obvious. Dangerous free-kick into the box from Dimas but it flies straight into the keeper’s hands.

9.07am GMT

1min: Peeeeeeeeep! And after much booing of Janjetovic, we’re off. The Wanderers get us under way. An early cross into the box is overhit and Sydney clear with ease. The Sky Blues have their foot on the ball now, playing it around calmly.

9.00am GMT

8.57am GMT

If there are reasons for optimism for the Wanderers, then Arnold’s comments underline one of them – overconfidence. The Sky Blues were distinctly underwhelming against the Mariners last time out, and the talk among some fans this week was not if they’d win, but by how many.

Their defensive depth will be tested too. Arnold has opted to throw Aaron Calver into the heart of defence. It’s not exactly ideal to chuck a 20-year-old – just back from long-term fitness problems – into the starting line-up in front of 40,000 fans but thems the breaks. It might just give the Wanderers a chance to find a crack in that brick wall.

8.54am GMT

Squad news:
Sydney FC: Danny Vukovic (gk), Michael Zullo, Aaron Calver, Alex Wilkinson, Rhyan Grant, Milos Dimitrijevic, Brandon O’Neill, Filip Holosko, Milos Ninkovic, Alex Brosque, Bobo. Subs: Andrew Redmayne, Bernie Ibini, David Carney, Matt Simon, Patrick Flottmann.
Western Sydney Wanderers: Vedran Janjetovic (gk), Jack Clisby, Mitch Nichols, Dimas (c), Nicolás Martinez, Scott Neville, Jaushua Sotirio, Kearyn Baccus, Robert Cornthwaite, Jonathan Aspropotamitis, Lachlan Scott. Subs: Jerrad Tyson (gk), Brendan Hamill, Bruno Pinatares, Jumpei Kusukami, Abraham Majok

Obviously the big news is Calver starting at centre-half. The right decision from Arnold? Out of the few options he had, I think it’s probably the right call. A bit of a shake-up up-front from the Wanderers too. They need to try something to solve their goalscoring woes.

8.51am GMT

The other talking point this week is two former Sydney FC favourites ditching the sky blue for a spell in red and black – namely Vedren Janjetovic and Terry Antonis. I think it’s fair to say there’s more sympathy for Antonis than Janjetovic from the Sky Blues faithful – largely because of the shot-stopper’s parting shot at his former club. I suspect he’s earned himself a chorus of boos from the Cove for that outburst.

It’ll be interesting to see how Antonis fares when he finally gets another A-League game. He desperately needs the minutes and, at 23, still has a big future ahead of him if he can find his form. He’s not in the squad tonight though.

Related: Vedran Janjetovic slams ‘months of lies’ from Sydney FC amid acrimonious exit

8.48am GMT

While we’re waiting, let’s have a look at the previous game between these two – namely Sydney FC’s 4-0 win at ANZ Stadium. As Mitch Nichols pointed out this week, Sydney may have won but keeper Danny Vukovic had to pull off several fine saves to keep Wanderers at bay. It makes Arnold’s midweek dig look even more fate-tempting.

8.46am GMT

Deep stuff.

8.45am GMT

I like a bit of pre-game banter as much as the next guy but I’m not sure what Arnold was trying to achieve with that one. To get under Popovic’s skin? Maybe, but was it necessary considering the disproportionate momentum going into this game? In all likelihood he’s just given the Wanderers some extra motivation. It’s the footballing equivalent of a showboating boxer sticking out his chin and goading his opponent to try and hit him, which kind of makes Sydney FC the Floyd Mayweather to the Wanderers’ Conor McGregor. Not sure who comes off worst in that metaphor.

I hope he (Arnold) is right. Because if he (Vukovic) doesn’t make a save it means he’s pulling the ball out of the net. – Tony Popovic

8.42am GMT

Of course, no Sydney derby build-up would be complete without an obligatory wind-up attempt from serial fire-stoker Graham Arnold. After previously inviting Wanderers fans to his Sydney mansion, the man with a love for architecture metaphors went for brick walls this time (although it might just have been a reference to the fact that Sydney has resembled a kiln at various times this week). It’ll be interesting to see if he squeezes in a reference to Frank Gehry before the next derby.

Our defence starts from the front, we’ve got a brick wall, we’ve conceded seven goals in 14 games and again our defence starts from the front, we’ve had many games where Danny Vukovic hasn’t had to make a save and the same will happen on Saturday night. – Graham Arnold

8.34am GMT

Evening everyone, thanks for joining me tonight. The temperature is high, the Allianz is rammed, and there’s so much tension in the air you can almost smell it – although that might just be the scent of KFC wafting in from the SCG next door. In short, we’re all set for a corker tonight and, while crispy chicken-loving Big Bash fans might disagree, there’s no doubt this is the hottest ticket in town (pyrotechnics after every boundary don’t count) with 40,000-plus fans expected to flow through the turnstiles in tonight’s sellout. As weathermen have been saying all week, it’s shaping up to be a scorcher in Sydney.

On paper, this match really shouldn’t warrant all that much attention. Sydney FC have been both an irresistible force and an immovable object this season, having scored exactly twice as many goals as the Wanderers during an undefeated campaign, while conceding a paltry seven, a figure that looks so anomalous on the A-League website I’m starting to think Russian hackers must be involved.

12.26am GMT

Richard will be here shortly. In the meantime, take a moment to look at David Squires’ latest cartoon, featuring toilet humour, John Kosmina and Sussan Ley.

Related: David Squires on … Melbourne City’s next coach

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/jan/14/a-league-sydney-fc-v-western-sydney-wanderers-live

Dec 17

Melbourne derby: Melbourne Victory 2-1 Melbourne City – as it happened

  • Berisha hits winner at AAMI Park after Cahill opener
  • Victory leapfrog City to go into second place on ladder

11.16am GMT

It was all shaping up to be another Tim Cahill fairytale, but in the end it was an A-League stalwart who grabbed the glory – and a place in the record books. It’s only a matter of time before Besart Berisha makes that all-time goalscoring record his own, and he’ll no doubt pass triple figures at some stage too, but for now he’ll be happy with deservedly firing his team into second place on the ladder.

The game itself wasn’t always pretty, and the foul count seemed in danger of going through the AAMI Park roof at one stage, but there’s no denying the excitement and passion on show from both teams tonight made for a gripping contest. It came down to tactics in the end, with Victory’s incision and ability to create clear chances proving the difference. For all their huff and puff, City only looked dangerous when they pumped deep balls towards Cahill – whereas Victory had several clear cut shots on goal.

10.52am GMT

It’s all over, Victory claim the bragging rights at the third time of asking this season. It’ll taste all the sweeter as a result.

10.51am GMT

90+3 mins: Last chance for City. Free-kick into the box… but Thomas charges off his line to claim it.

10.49am GMT

90+2mins: Georgieviski comes on for Berisha. No record today, but he’s one step closer. The sub almost scores straight away. He’s causing all sorts of trouble. Time ticking away.

10.47am GMT

90 mins: Pressure building from City. Kilkeny with a volley that’s deflected wide for another corner. Victory hoof it away to safety. Four minutes of injury time.

10.46am GMT

89 mins: The clock is running down for City. Cahill with a last-minute header? He’s looked their most dangerous player in front of goal. Late corner.

10.43am GMT

86 mins: Troisi denied from close range. That would have been game over. As it is, City are still in it, but despite plenty of possession they haven’t troubled Thomas too much. Victory on the verge of going second with a game in hand.

10.42am GMT

84 mins: Do Victory deserve to be ahead? Possibly. They’ve defended solidly and had the better chances. Rojas comes off for Beister. The Kiwi has done well to last so long and played a huge part in Victory’s performance.

10.38am GMT

81 mins: Kamua comes off for Fitzgerald as City chase the game. Berisha looks rejuvenated. He wants that goalscoring record all to himself.

10.37am GMT

78 mins: Berisha! The striker fires into an empty net as Bouzanis tries to shut down the cut-back from Rojas. He doesn’t get there in time and Berisha smashes home. Very, very close to being offiside though – could have gone either way.

10.33am GMT

76 mins: Ingham so close to putting Victory in front after being fed through by Troisi. Bouzanis “makes himself big” and blocks the shot. Good work from the keeper.

10.31am GMT

74 mins: Both sides desperate to find the winner but it might be a case of who’s got the legs for it. The intensity and pace of the game has sapped a lot of energy but neither side is willing to take their foot off the gas. City on top at the minute.

10.29am GMT

72 mins: More niggly fouls, this time Kamua gives one away. There’s been 30 fouls so far, and with more than a few tired legs out there that figure is going to keep climbing higher and higher.

10.27am GMT

69 mins: Brattan is struggling for City. He got a knock in the first half but he’s still waving away calls from the bench. Colazo goes in the book for whacking the ball into the stands after Victory win a free-kick in dangerous territory. Rojas takes it but it fails to trouble Bouzanis.

10.25am GMT

67 mins: Right, can we get back to some football please? All this posturing is getting boring. Brandan has visions of glory as he charges down the left flank and blasts the ball goalwards from distance… but it sails miles over. Much hilarity among the Victory faithful.

10.23am GMT

10.22am GMT

65 mins: Yet more push and shove after a foul throw from Franjic and a foul by Troisi. The referee calms things down, but there’s a permanent crackle in the air. It’s only going to take one spark.

10.21am GMT

64 mins: Donachie renters the fray after having his face taped up for a boot to the face. There’s no polite way of saying this, he looks like the elephant man.

10.20am GMT

63 mins: Cahill with another header that goes inches wide. So close. He seems to levitate every time he gets near it.

10.18am GMT

62 mins: Rose comes off for Muscat. Hopefully the delay takes away some of the heat that’s been building the last few minutes.

10.17am GMT

59 mins: Dear oh dear. More handbags. Geria goes in the book for a shove on Brandan, who flies to the ground. Teammates get involved and soon Berisha and Fornaroli are in the book too. Tensions in danger of bubbling over.

10.14am GMT

56 mins: Handbags time. It was always going to happen at some stage. Bouzanis pushes and shoves with Berisha and Donachie. The referee sensibly waits for it to peter out and the game resumes.

10.12am GMT

55 mins: Victory getting back into it now. Successive corners give the City defence something to think about, but Bouzanis comes out confidently to claim the ball and stop the danger.

10.11am GMT

54 mins: Kalfallah with a charge down the left wing to relieve some of the pressure on Victory. His eventual cross is easily blocked but at least it buys the visitors some breathing space. Not for long though. City go straight up the other end and win a corner… but it comes to nothing.

10.08am GMT

52 mins: Oooo, close. Fornaroli with a great opportunity – but he fluffs it, volleying over at close range after a great knock back from Franjic. City asking all the questions.

10.07am GMT

49 mins: It’s been all City so far this half, although they’ve not really troubled the Victory net. A deep ball towards Tim Cahill might change that.

10.05am GMT

47 mins: A low inswinger causes some confusion in the Victory defence but they eventually hoof it away. Can both sides maintain the tempo of the first half? It was exciting stuff, if not exactly pretty at times. City still making the early running.

10.03am GMT

We’re back, and there’s been no change of personnel during the break. City on the attack early and win a free-kick on the right-hand side of the box for their troubles.

9.48am GMT

9.47am GMT

Brandan with the final touch of the half … and it’s very close to a goal, skidding inches wide of Thomas’ net. All square as we go into the break. Catch you in 15 mins.

9.45am GMT

45+1 mins: Cahill goes into the book much to the delight of the Victory fans. Bit of argy bargy while chasing the ball after the whistle. One more mistimed tackle and he could be in serious trouble.

9.43am GMT

45 mins: Lovely stuff from Fornaroli, taking a couple of touches under pressure to control a bouncing ball on the edge of the area, then unleashing a powerful shot straight at Thomas. A few inches either side of the keeper would have seriously troubled him. That might be the last chance of the half.

9.41am GMT

43 mins: The free-kick into the box comes to nothing, but every time a high ball falls within a 2m radius of Cahill’s head there’s a crackle of tension in the air. It’s just out of his range this time.

9.40am GMT

42 mins: City with a bit of possession, but Victory are defending tenaciously – a little too tenaciously in some cases. Fornaroli is brought down and City win a free-kick on the far right of the box.

9.38am GMT

39 mins: Victory finishing the half strongly, and if Berisha had his shooting boots on they could be a couple of goals clear by now. Muscat will be happy with how his side have dealt with that Cahill goal. All the best chances have fallen to them since then, some of them gift-wrapped by City.

9.36am GMT

37 mins: Franjic goes in the book for what could be generously called a full-blooded challenge on Khalfallah. Surprisingly few bookings so far – plenty of fouls, but nothing too serious. The referee has handled things well.

9.34am GMT

35 mins: Frenetic. It’s a word that gets used far too often to describe football games but it fits this one perfectly. Rojas creates some space with a few stepovers, but his final shot goes straight down the keeper’s throat. Seconds later, Berisha gets another chance but he goes to ground under pressure. No penalty claims, but he was very close to getting a shot away. Tongyik walking a fine line in the heart of the City defence.

9.31am GMT

32 mins: Thomas is far too casual with a pass back and almost – allllmost – gets caught in possession by Brandan. Risky stuff.

9.29am GMT

29 mins: Brandan does his now traditional three-turn roll on the floor after the slightest of touches, prompting more boos from an already tense crowd. End to end stuff at the minute, City look more dangerous up front but their defence doesn’t exactly inspire.

9.25am GMT

9.24am GMT

26 mins: Berisha should have made it two! He could have the goalscoring record in his pocket by now – the Albanian had all the time in the world after a ball over the top, but stroked it straight to Bouzanis.

9.23am GMT

24 mins: Rojas marks his return in style! Poor defending from Tongyik, failing to clear with a head then fluffing the follow-up. It lands with Rojas, who curls home. All square.

9.21am GMT

23 mins: Victory have responded well since the goal, harrying City all over the park. Rojas charges forward but his final through-ball is cut out before it can reach Fornaroli. Bouzanis is seeing more of the ball now.

9.19am GMT

21 mins: It’s all about Cahill at the minute. He’s been escorted off after getting another knock to the head. Play continues but he’s eager to get back on. No lasting damage.

9.18am GMT

19 mins: Now Cahill – who’s sporting a bandaged head after some overzealous celebrating – gets a stern talking to from referee Gillett after a strong challenge after the whistle had gone. Lucky not to get booked. Victory fans were braying.

9.16am GMT

9.15am GMT

17 mins: Cahill! It had to be. And surprise, surprise it’s a header. A deep corner to the back stick, Cahill muscles out two Victory players and nods it into the net. Textbook Timmy.

9.13am GMT

14 mins: Much better work from Bouzanis after being given a hospital pass under pressure. He calmly plays it out and the danger clears. City just shading it at the minute but not by much.

9.11am GMT

12 mins: Poor corner from Brattan… much to the delight of the Victory fans.

9.10am GMT

11 mins: Berisha gives away a foul after chopping down Brattan. A few niggly tackles from both teams, Fornaroli is bundled over by two Victory players to give City a free-kick 40 yards out. It doesn’t come to anything, but Victory struggle to clear and it leads to a spell of pressure form City. Corner for the hosts.

9.07am GMT

9.06am GMT

8 mins: It’s been more of an arm-wrestle than a blood-and-guts battle so far. Both sides trying to stomp some dominance on things but perhaps guilty of being a little over eager in the hunt for an early goal. A few stray passes all over the park.

9.04am GMT

6 mins: Berisha scuffs a clear chance after being put clean through. Poor finish – very unusual for Berisha. Touch of nerves perhaps? Would be unlike him but it happens to even the best players.

9.03am GMT

4 mins: Bouzanis has already made two slightly dodgy clearances. Not a great sign, especially in light of what happened to the Jets goalkeeper last night. What a howler that was. Berisha takes a shot that strikes Tongyik’s arm. Not much the young defender could have done about that, no penalty.

9.00am GMT

3 mins: Brattan whips in the corner but he can’t get it past the first defender and Victory are safe.

9.00am GMT

Peeeeeep! Referee Jarred Gillett blows his whistle and we’re off. An early scuff from Bouzanis gives Victory a throw-in but they give it back immediately. City making the early running. Brandan earns an early corner with some trickery down the left.

8.55am GMT

A big roar as the players finally file out to the strains of Fatboy Slim. Scarves aloft all around AAMI Park.

8.54am GMT

8.52am GMT

Not long to go now. How will City’s defence cope without their best defender? Berisha must be licking his lips. Must admit I fancied City to nick it before the team sheets came out. Now I’m erring towards Victory. That’s enough fence-sitting from me for now anyway. The players are just about to run out.

8.45am GMT

8.44am GMT

8.42am GMT

The team sheets are in and the big news is Jakobsen is missing for City, with early reports suggesting it’s due to a calf strain. That’s a big blow. The silver lining is Fernando Brandan has recovered from that horrific eye gouge he suffered at the hands of Rhyan Grant last week. What a trooper. As expected, Rojas is back for Victory.

Melbourne City: Dean Bouzanis (GK), Josh Rose, Ivan Franjic, Neil Kilkenny, Ruon Tongyik, Nicolas Colazo, Bruce Kamau, Tim Cahill, Bruno Fornaroli (c), Luke Brattan, Fernando Brandan

Melbourne Victory:
Lawrence Thomas (GK), Jason Geria, James Donachie, Alan Baro, Leigh Broxham, Oliver Bozanic, James Troisi, Carl Valeri (c), Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Besart Berisha, Marco Rojas.

8.35am GMT

Berisha isn’t the only striker on the pitch who can single-handedly turn a game – Bruno Fornaroli is more than capable of grabbing the headlines tonight, and not just because he likes dropping the F-bomb on national telly. Victory fans are all too aware of what the foul-mouthed forward is capable of, having scored four goals in as many derby games. Tough to pick out the best but this one was pretty special.

8.32am GMT

8.32am GMT

The other talking point this week has been Besart Berisha, and if/when everyone’s favourite

antagonistic Albanian
cranky Kosovan will pass Archie Thompson’s A-League goalscoring record. After single-handedly ripping apart the Wanderers last week, you wouldn’t put it past him bagging a brace this weekend to take his tally to 91.

8.26am GMT

Whatever your view on booing, I’m not quite sure what Cahill hoped to achieve by having a moan about it. He’s guaranteed to cop a load more today as a result. On the flip side, Cahill has a happy knack of rising to the occasion, so if he does get a lot of flak expect him to save a penalty with his head or something.

8.22am GMT

Speaking of which, I’ll never miss an opportunity to plug a David Squires cartoon … but seeing as I’ve already been beaten to it (on my own blog no less), I’ll just provide a simple hyperlink to his take on the Cahill booing saga. The Simpsons reference took me back to the episode where “Timmy”

Cahill
is trapped down a well and claims he was turned away from school because of his shabby clothes – cue a round of booing from the crowd. Principal Skinner feels your pain Mr Cahill.

8.19am GMT

8.16am GMT

Evening everyone, thanks for joining me for the pick of this weekend’s games as two bitter city rivals fight for the right to be recognised as Sydney’s main challengers at the top of the A-League table. It’s the football equivalent of two siblings scrapping over who gets the top bunk, only to discover Graham Arnold is already up there, snoozing away and occasionally mumbling “Tasmania United” in his sleep.

With Sydney facing a tricky assignment in Perth shortly after this clash, it’s the perfect chance to pinch Arnold’s nose and put a little bit of pressure on the leaders before they kick-off. The question is who’ll seize the initiative?

6.51am GMT

Richard will be here shortly but in the meantime, check out the latest from David Squires.

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

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2016/dec/17/melbourne-derby-melbourne-victory-vs-melbourne-city-a-league-live

Dec 16

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

  • Newcastle Jets 2-1 Adelaide United at McDonald Jones Stadium
  • Email: richard.gadsby.casual@guardian.co.uk | Tweet: @RichardGadbsy1

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.

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 the shotstopper.

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 howler from Duncan. What should have been an easily dealt with free-kick from Isaias is curled in straight to the keeper’s chest – but instead of catching it, he 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 Mullen 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 boots of Boogaard, who kicks it out. Safety first. Again.

9.33am GMT

37 mins: Boogaard with a great sliding tackle to deny Henriques. 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: OOooo! Duncan gets a fingertip to the ball 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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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2016/dec/16/a-league-adelaide-united-vs-newcastle-jets-live