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Australian Column: Brisbane’s slow start shows serious problems while Victory’s Newcastle curse continues

A brand new feature on this website is the introduction of weekly & fortnightly columns focusing on various leagues, countries and regions across the World. Andrew Cussen documents the latest talking points in Australian football.

Roar problems

Brisbane’s slow start shows serious problems

Brisbane Roar have become a model of consistency in recent season which is remarkable given the nature of the A-League, with salary caps and constant flux. But the only thing consistent about the Roar during this campaign is their lifeless performances, and Saturday night saw another one in a home defeat to previously winless Melbourne City.

Last season’s Champions are without a win after four matches and frustration reached boiling point on Saturday night, with left back Shane Stefanutto and stand in goalkeeper Jamie Young exchanging heated words on the field after the full-time whistle.

The Roar recently let go Liam Miller “by mutual consent” but there are suggestions this move was aimed at destabilising the power base of playmaker Thomas Broich, a key figure in the Brisbane locker room. There have also been rumours that an assistant was let go because members of the coaching staff saw him as a threat.

While there is still time to turn things around for Brisbane, there have been few signs on the pitch that say they can do so. A creaking defence and lacklustre attack have lead to the Roar dominating possession in every match this season but with nothing to show for it. Things have to improve quickly for Brisbane if they are to salvage their season, and a win against Newcastle this Friday would be a good place to start.

Victory’s Newcastle curse continues

Melbourne Victory just cannot seem to win in Newcastle, having not won at Hunter Stadium since 2009. The Jets hosted the Victory on Saturday afternoon and the visitors rescued a point after finding themselves two goals down with 33 minutes into the match, but finding a winner proved impossible.

Awful set piece defending from the Victory allowed Kew Jaliens to find the net from a corner, and a dubious penalty only two minutes later – although again coming from a corner – saw Joel Griffiths slot home. The Victory responded within a matter of minutes as new signing Fahid Ben Khalfallah halved the deficit. Besart Berisha continued to live up to his marquee status by equalising in the 48th minute, his fifth goal of the season in just four appearances.

The pitch no doubt contributed to Victory’s slow start as Hunter Stadium was re-turfed just days before the match, and prevented Melbourne from moving the ball at pace. The match at times resembled a game of beach soccer with sand flying and players lost their footing with regularity. Hopefully the surface improves in the coming weeks before it is responsible for a serious injury.

The best goalless draw for ages

Adelaide United hosted Sydney FC on Friday night in a highly anticipated matchup with both teams showing strong early season form, undefeated in their opening four matches. The match proved to be a little bit disjointed in the opening half before exploding into life in the second.

Adelaide pushed and pushed for the winner as they were backed by over 16 thousand fans at Coopers Stadium, very nearly a sell-out. But the home side were denied by the goalkeeping heroics of Vedran Janjetović, who of course made that now infamous blunder in the Sydney derby. The Sydney FC keeper was virtually flawless for 90 minutes and produced a stunning stop to deny in form Adelaide winger Sergio Cirio in the 85th minute.

A vibrant atmosphere, fantastic football and loads of goalmouth action all contributed to a thrilling match despite the absence of any goals.

Perth Glory, table toppers

The Glory continued their impressive start to the season by dispatching the Central Coast Mariners 1-0 on Sunday afternoon, overcoming their poor record in Gosford. Perth now sit on top of the A-League table with 12 points from their five matches, and deservedly so. Apart from one loss against Adelaide, the Glory have been clearly the better side in every match this season. Perth have also made terrific progress in the FFA Cup and face Victorian state league side Bentleigh Greens in the semi finals this week.

All of Perth’s victories in the A-League have been by a single goal and their performances have reminded us of that classic footballing cliché, ‘the sign of a great team is winning when not playing at 100%’. I mentioned that Glory have been the better side in all their wins but there is a feeling that they still have more to offer, particularly in attack.

Andy Keogh and Jamie Maclaren seem to be taking it in turns to fire for Perth but if they can perform simultaneously, the Glory could find themselves running away with games. Nebojša Marinković also adds an extra dimension to Perth’s goalscoring threat as he showed on Sunday, riffling home a thunderous freekick from distance.

Talent Radar Round-Up

16 year old Alusine Fofanah started for Western Sydney in their match away to the Wellington Phoenix and showed some nice touches. He played 86 minutes and is one to keep an eye on in the future, especially as Wanderers coach Tony Popovic will need to rotate his squad with the Club World Cup and the next edition of the Asian Champions League on the horizon.

Bernie Ibini, Corey Gameiro, Christopher Naumoff and Terry Antonis all started for Sydney FC but were kept relatively quiet by an improving Adelaide defence. The same match also saw 19 year old Awer Mabil play 82 minutes for the Reds, but he was inconsistent for most of the match.

Brisbane’s 19 year old Brandon Borello came on at halftime with the Roar 2-0 down against Melbourne City and got the home side back into the match, scoring albeit with the help of a healthy deflection. With the Roar’s struggles upfront this season he could be in line for more game time in the coming weeks.

Perth’s livewire 17 year old Daniel De Silva played the final 20 minutes against the Mariners and showed some good touches. He should start in midweek for the Glory in their FFA Cup clash.

Written by Andrew Cussen

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