Friday, 23 October 2015

PREVIEW: A-League Round 3


Round 3 of the Hyundai A-League kicks off at Hunter Stadium tonight when the Newcastle Jets host the Melbourne Victory. The Jets were unlucky in their late 1-0 loss to Sydney FC last week and will be spurred by the return of captain Nigel Boogaard from a one-week suspension. The local junior will get his chance to lead the side in front of the home fans for the very first time.

Melbourne Victory were seemingly cruising in the derby last week; 2-0 up at the midway point of the second half. City turned things around and tied things up in the blink of an eye but Besart Berisha was on hand for another crucial goal (as he always is) and won a thriller at Etihad Stadium. It was a big win for the defending A-League champions.

The Jets put up a gallant fight against the Sky Blues last week and were only downed in the very last minutes of the game. Goalkeeper Mark Birighitti is unsurprisingly ruled out of this clash after his sickening collision with the boot of Shane Smeltz. The Perth-born custodian is back training and will be back sooner rather than later. Youth keeper Blake Tuxford will fill the bench position.

Labinot Haliti is a big omission for the home side. The passionate attacker was ruled out for the remainder of the A-League season on Wednesday with confirmation of a torn ACL. Scott Miller does have the option of signing an injury replacement but in the short term, there is a void to fill and it could see a golden chance for the likes of Mitch Cooper, Radovan Pavicevic and Brandon Lundy.

Victory will be boosted by the return of Leigh Broxham after a week's suspension and their depth will be strengthened as fullbacks Scott Galloway and Jason Geria return to the squad after international duty. It'll be interesting to see just who Kevin Muscat plays as the wide backs with both these young talents, the more experienced Daniel Georgievski and indeed fellow youngster Dylan Murnane all capable of filling the two positions.

Newcastle need to produce more goals thus more chances will need to be created in the final third. The side is gelling and patience is needed but there's no denying the challenge ahead of Scott Miller's men tonight. Victory have firepower and should be too strong in this one.

Ty's Tip: Victory 2-0
Keegan's Tip: Victory 3-1
Alex's Tip: Jets 2-1

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After a disappointing first-up loss at home to Newcastle, the Wellington Phoenix bounced back last weekend with a stunning late win in the Distance Derby against Perth Glory. Vince Lia scored his first goal in four seasons and it sparked wild celebrations amongst the Wellington squad and indeed their small contingent of travelling fans.

Indeed the Distance Derby result was made slightly easier by Richard Garcia's send-off but it was still a big win for Ernie Merrick's men and now they return to 'The Cake Tin' looking to knock off the current ladder leaders. It's a crucial game for both of these clubs.

Controversy was on hand when these sides last met on March 22nd. Wellington were 2-1 winners but the game was abandoned with 17 minutes remaining due to a torrential downpour of biblical proportions. Brisbane felt hard done by but that's in the past now and the in-form side of the competition will be keen to record a third-straight win under John Aloisi's leadership.

Brisbane's 2-1 win over the Mariners last week was reasonably routine and despite a late goal giving them a worry, the Roar held on for what was a fairly comfortable win.

On the injury front, Wellington will again be without captain Andrew Durante who is sidelined with a calf injury. Jamie Young will replace Michael Theo in goals as the experienced custodian is out with a quad strain.

Wellington's success over the years has always been based on superb home form and they need to turn Westpac Stadium into a fortress. Brisbane will like their chances and with players like Corona, Jamie Maclaren and Thomas Broich, it's definitely not going to be an upset if the Roar get the points.

Ty's Tip: Roar 2-1
Keegan's Tip: Roar 2-0
Alex's Tip: Roar 2-1

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After the excitement of the Melbourne Derby last weekend, it's Sydney's turn to light up the A-League with the first Sydney Derby of the 2015/16 Season. Allianz Stadium is sold out for this fixture and if past meetings are anything to go by, it's sure to be a compelling match-up between the arch rivals.

Sydney FC were late winners over Newcastle last weekend and a look at the stats show that the Sky Blues probably should have scored one or two more goals. Graham Arnold will know his side have room for improvement and there's no greater game to produce a quality performance than the derby.

It's all clear on the injury and suspension front for these two sides. Andrew Hoole will make his league debut for his new club whilst marquee man Filip Holosko returns to the Sky Blues' lineup after missing last weekend's game.

Last time these sides met Sydney won a seven-goal thriller at Pirtek Stadium. The Wanderers won the first two derbies at Allianz Stadium but have lost the last two on the trot and have in fact been winless in their last four Sydney derbies. January 11th 2014 was the last time Western Sydney won the derby.

There's no questioning the importance of this game for Sydney FC but it's the Wanderers who will be gunning for a victory. Tony Popovic's side are winless in two outings this season and can prove their top four credentials with a win over their rivals.

Sydney FC will be spurred on by a crowd of 40000+ at Allianz and with the addition of Holosko back into the fold, the Sky Blues will indeed like their chances of a third-straight home win in the derby.

Ty's Tip: Sydney 2-1
Keegan's Tip: Draw 1-1
Alex's Tip: Sydney 4-3

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The Mariners have lost their last two games at AAMI Park (both to Victory), but no Yellow Army faithful will forget their last away match against Melbourne City. It was Round 6 last season and the Mariners pulled off an amazing draw thanks to John Hutchinson's final minute strike. It was a memorable day in what went down as a fairly forgetful season for the Mariners.

City are the heavy favourites in this match but coming off a long midweek trip to Perth where their FFA Cup aspirations were shot down, the 'Cityzens' will be cautious of an unpredictable Mariners outfit. The Mariners put Perth to the sword in Week 1 however last week's 2-1 loss to Brisbane was generally a poor showing from Tony Walmsley's side.

A host of names will be available for Melbourne City. New signing Corey Gameiro has overcome his injury, club stalwart David Williams is back, Ben Garuccio is in and exciting midfielder Jacob Melling will be featured. It's not all good news as Michael Zullo and Robert Koren are both out with calf injuries, Jack Clisby has a quad injury and reserve keeper Tando Velaphi is unsurprisingly out with concussion after his head clash in the FFA Cup Semi Final.

The Mariners are boosted by the return of fan favourite Josh Rose. Glen Trifiro has been named and Eddy Bosnar is back from injury. Goalkeeper Liam Reddy was stood down during the week and could very well have played his last game in yellow and blue. Reserve keeper Paul Izzo will get a chance to impress and Adam Pearce will take his spot on the bench.

It's a game City should be winning; especially after the disappointment of losing the Derby last week. Although if the Mariners can produce their best it could very well end closer than what some may think.

Ty's Tip: City 3-1
Keegan's Tip: City 2-1
Alex's Tip: Draw 0-0

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Another year, another FFA Cup Final for the Perth Glory. They were denied their first piece of silverware in the A-League era by their opponents on Sunday Adelaide United last season and now Kenny Lowe's men have a chance to go one better against either Hume City or Melbourne Victory in a couple of weeks' time.

Adelaide United come to Perth with two draws under their belt in the new season and growing worry about the side's title credentials this season. In the short term, Adelaide need to start creating more chances and scoring more goals. The return of Bruce Djite will help that problem but a lot of Reds fans are still pessimistic about their chances.

The Glory will see Nebojsa Marinkovic return from injury and Richard Garcia come back into the line-up after serving his one-match ban during the FFA Cup Semi Final. Apart from a long-term knee injury to Ruben Zadkovich, Kenny Lowe has a full squad to pick from for Sunday's clash with Adelaide.

Like Wellington, Perth really need to build their home ground into a fortress. Their motto in the 2015/16 season is #WestvsTheRest and if the Glory can produce good form, they can capitalise on what is a sports-mad city. With the success of both West Coast and Fremantle in the AFL, Perth sporting fans are starting to think about their sides with more expectation for success. Long story short, win games and the stadium will fill.

Adelaide are the slight favourites in this game but considering the venue and the form of both sides, a draw certainly wouldn't be off the cards.

Ty's Tip: Draw 1-1
Keegan's Tip: Adelaide 1-0
Alex's Tip: Draw 1-1

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