A-League Highlights & Lowlights: Round 8

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Here again are my highlights and lowlights of the weekend that was. Get involved each week by sending me your thoughts and opinions by using #FCAUHighLow, @FootballCentAU & @Matthew_Berry

HIGHLIGHTS

#FarinaIn
Sydney FC recorded their 4th win in succession after they defeated Gary Van Egmond’s Newcastle Jets on Saturday night. In a repeat of the season’s opening game, the Sky Blues would win 2-0 despite losing star Alessandro Del Piero to injury in the 43rd minute. Goals to Joel Chianese and Ranko Despotovic were enough too see off the Jets, who played nothing like the team that had defeated Brisbane and Melbourne Heart the weeks previous. Confidence is high at Sydney FC, and this weekend against a struggling Central Coast Mariners, Frank Farina could be enjoying his 5th straight win. Who would have seen that coming a month ago?

Berisha the saviour again
For the second time in two weeks the Albanian has scored, and like he has so many times before he would create the difference that earned the Roar three points. Perth Glory were outplayed for the majority of the match, yet were able to hang on and create opportunities of their own early in the second half. Enter Besart Berisha. After receiving a pass from Thomas Broich, Berisha was able to make space for himself and with a low strike in to the far corner of the net the deadlock was broken. Three goals in four games has him in form, while still lacking match fitness after missing games through injury. It bodes well for the Roar, who are looking to keep the out of contract striker in their squad. There is interest from other clubs, however coach Mike Mulvey is confident he will stay, Brisbane fans are definitely hoping the same.

Sunday’s 6 goal thriller
I didn’t expect to be commenting on this match as a highlight before the weekend, but what a match this turned out to be. A classic game for the neutral to enjoy both sides had their chances to win it, more so the Reds who opened up a 2 nil lead early on. Two goals to the good seemed like enough for Adelaide, however nobody told Andrea Migliorini that. The Italian’s stunning strike got the Heart beating again, plus the celebration showed the players still believed in coach John Aloisi as much as the fans may not. Migliorni would score again to level the match, and the celebrations would continue around AAMI Park as the Heart were awarded a controversial penalty. Now a goal up, a fairytale win was on the cards, until a Marcelo Carrusca free kick made the score 3-3. Both coaches survive another week, however questions must be asked why neither could hold on to their respective leads.

LOWLIGHTS

Poor Crowds
Round 8 saw three games attract less than 8000 fans through the turnstiles, and of biggest concern was the clash between the Mariners and Victory on Friday night. A headline filled week off field and terrible weather didn’t help Central Coast in getting people to the game in what is one of their marquee home games of the season. Just 5,787 people attended, which was worse than a clash between two of the bottom placed sides in Melbourne Heart and Adelaide United (6,002). The Mariners play Sydney this weekend at home, with the crowd to be boosted by large numbers of Sky Blue supporters travelling north, however regardless of the opponent the reigning champions deserve better support at Bluetongue. The Phoenix – Wanderers clash only attracted 7,147 supporters however just over a week ago 33,626 were at Westpac Stadium to watch the national side. Why aren’t those who attend international fixtures, supporting the only NZ side in the A-League?

Central Coast Mariners
Friday night’s performance against the Victory was one of the worst performance’s in many years and not what the club’s supporters expect. Before the arrival of Graham Arnold, effort like that would have been somewhat tolerated, however now that the club has achieved the ultimate success in Australia, performances like that won’t be accepted. Arnold has left, Peter Turnbull too, and now head of strength and conditioning Andrew Clark has followed Arnie to Japan, and there is talk off field of more games going to North Sydney next year. Someone needs to get to the helm of the ship, and get the Mariners back on course. A win against Sydney this weekend would be a good start.

Wellington forgotten?
While everyone has been quick to give their opinion on John Aloisi and the Heart, their is another team that hasn’t enjoyed a victory this season and that is the side from ‘across the ditch’. Ernie Merrick’s Wellington Phoenix sit in second last spot on the ladder at the moment with four points and struggled against an understrength Wanderers side at Westpac Stadium. Granted they have had a number of players away on NZ All-Whites duty, though that should no longer be an excuse 7 games in. The Phoenix are deperate for a win, however one could be a while off as they travel to Perth in round 9, then Brisbane at home, the Mariners away midweek, followed by Sydney back at home. Surely the pressure is rising for Wellington’s new coach?

Matthew Berry

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

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