A-League Highlights & Lowlights: Round 14

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Highlights & Lowlights is back again, this time for Round 14. Remember to get involved each week by tweeting @FootballCentAu or by using #HighLowFCAU

Highlights:

Welcome Back Smeltzy:

What a glorious return the Kiwi striker enjoyed on Friday night, as he slotted two goals in his side’s 3-0 defeat of the hapless Melbourne Heart. After missing the past five weeks due to an ankle injury, Smeltz was brought on in the second half with the scores at nil all. Adrian Zahra would break the deadlock in the 63rd minute, but it would be Smeltz, in his 50th appearance for the Glory stealing the headlines with his two goals in about 20 minutes of match time.

Perth fan will be delighted that he has returned but will have to acknowledge that he again this week will start from the bench as he increases his fitness, after being out for over a month. The Glory now face a much tougher ask against competition leaders Brisbane Roar on Friday night, but with the A-League’s overall top scorer back in the side, the challenge has become just that little bit easier.

Giving youth a chance:

On Saturday night, Tony Popvic handed 16 year old Daniel Alessi the opportunity of a lifetime; to make his debut in the Sydney Derby in front of 18,000 fans. The youngster, who has only recently been training with the squad full time because of school holidays, relished the challenge to line up at right back in place of the injured Jerome Polenz. Popovic was full of praise for his young charge after the match, “He did great and we believe in the kid…. I just told him to enjoy it because everyone’s got belief in him, do his job and enjoy the occasion. And he did well.”

While there is an ever emerging presence of young players getting their opportunity of first team football, most are off the bench. It’s fantastic to see Popovic and the other coaching staff giving a young player a chance like that, especially in what is such a big fixture for the Wanderers.

Lowlights:

Another Heart Attack:

Again the Melbourne Heart feature in this section of the article, after another loss that now has their record at 19 consecutive matches without a win. They now equal the New Zealand Knights for that stat, and could be the record holders come Friday night if they are unable to defeat the Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park. They kept Perth scoreless till the 63rd minute but were then swamped with a three goal blitz they reinforced why the Heart are at the bottom of the table.

Their cause isn’t helped when Dylan McAllistair (who has spent most of the season playing in the Youth League) picks up two yellows and is sent off within 10 minutes of coming on as a substitute. John van’t Schip has a lot of work to do if he is to turn his side’s fortunes around, and with three of their next four matches at home, now is the perfect time to start.

Windy Wellington lives up to it’s name:

Spare a thought for our neighbours across the ditch who have to wear jackets and scarves to watch a summer time sport. Watching the clash yesterday between the Phoenix and Mariners it was obvious how windy the conditions were and how great an effect they had on the players and at some points the standard of play.

But at the same time I felt sorry for the Kiwi fans that were at the game, all rugged up supporting their team, while here in Australia (at most grounds) you have to contend with getting baked by the sun. Next time you’re at a match enjoying a cold beer in the sun cheering on your team, spare a thought for Wellington fans at the Cake Tin, who rarely get to experience that luxury we take for granted here in Oz.

Matthew Berry

Matthew Berry is Football Central's Central Coast Mariners correspondent.

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