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W-League: Sydney and Brisbane settle for draw

Jasmyne Spencer rescued a point for Sydney FC with a stunning late goal after Tameka Butt opened the scoring for Brisbane Roar as both sides settled for a 1-1 draw in a wet, then dry, then wet, then dry match at Lambert Park on Saturday afternoon.

Sydney, with only five rounds left until the final, returned to more familiar ground after their home game to Western Sydney in Western Sydney last week, and a 1-0 defeat in Perth the week prior. A win here would consolidate their place in second behind Perth, and reinforce the kind of form needed as they work towards the finals.


Brisbane, meanwhile, arrived in Sydney on the back of a 4-1 loss to Newcastle, well and truly set in a season-long funk. Finals football is still somehow achievable in spite of a thoroughly lacklustre first half of the season; their only win so far coming against Newcastle in the third round, which is perhaps interesting, or perhaps not.

Having first delayed kickoff by half an hour, reduced by ten minutes to a start twenty minutes later than originally planned, the rain decided to hold off – for the first five minutes, anyway. Nicola Bolger skimmed a volley over the roof of the net after Sydney won a corner through some early pressure, and the sky, otherwise unbearably sunny, gave up on trying to keep things dry.

Where the rain would have normally made grass greasy, the synthetic field was left with all the surface resistance of an air hockey table, and the game suffered as a result. Both sides were frustrated in their respective final thirds: where Sydney had dominated the opening exchanges, Brisbane soon assumed responsibility for being the team that threatened to threaten without really threatening as the ball struggled to move beyond either midfield.

Tameka Butt was slipped clear through on the edge of the penalty area after 15 minutes, but was foiled by the onrushing Alyssa Harris in the Sydney goal. At the other end, Sydney used Jasmyne Spencer as a focal point in moving forward but were rarely able to work the ball into dangerous positions, as Brisbane calmly smothered attempts down the right side through Renee Rollason and Teigan Allen. Lightning cracked as dark clouds rolled overhead, but half time came and went without further interruption.

There was seemingly less structure in the second half as players slowed in humid, heavy conditions, opening the game up to loose attack and counter-attack with midfields stretched and everyone doubtlessly bored by the lack of a goal.

Finally, someone took the initiative and opened the scoring; Tameka Butt dinking a finish over Harris after being fed in from the left to reward Brisbane for their part in the previous 20 minutes of chaos. It had looked likely enough that the home side would score first – a frantic goalmouth scramble aside, Sydney had closed down the majority of Brisbane attacks before they became too much of a problem – but they struggled to find a way back into the match.

Spencer worked hard but dropped deeper and deeper to help her midfield as time went on, with little movement ahead of her restricting Sydney's attempts to impress themselves on the final 25 minutes.  Brisbane, meanwhile, were happy to push for a second, recognising that their opposition, heads dropping, seemed to have accepted the result early.

Closing in on the final whistle, Sydney stirred and drove forward with a purpose that had been largely absent all afternoon. A typically desperate tussle for possession saw the ball fall to Spencer on the edge of the penalty area, and she struck a looping volley over Kate Stewart to pull her side level with her sixth goal of the season. Ultimately, a draw seemed both the fairest and most likely result.

Next week Sydney head south to take on Canberra United, who are fresh from their draw against the Western Sydney Wanderers earlier this afternoon. Brisbane will look to build on an improved performance back in Queensland, and will be hopeful of making up ground towards the finals against sixth-placed Adelaide United.



Sydney FC starting XI: 20. Alyssa Harris (gk), 2. Teresa Polias, 3. Liz Ralston, 4. Alesha Clifford, 5. Jasmyne Spencer, 6. Servet Uzunlar, 7. Nicola Bolger, 10. Renee Rollason, 12. Chloe Logarzo, 15. Teigen Allen, 16. Samantha Johnson

Sydney FC substitutes: 18. Heidi Makrillos, 21. Sian McLaren (gk), 23. Melissa Caceres, 24. Georgia Plessas


Brisbane Roar starting XI: 20. Kate Stewart (gk), 2. Laura Alleway, 3. Amy Chapman, 4. Clare Polkinghorne (C), 5. Brooke Spence, 6. Hayley Raso, 7. Kim Carroll, 8. Elise Kellond-Knight, 10. Katrina Gorry, 13. Tameka Butt, 17. Emily Gielnik

Brisbane Roar substitutes: 11. Vedrana Popovic, 14. Natasha Wheeler, 19. Ayesha Norrie, 21. Teagan Micah (gk)
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City stalls once more as Villa departs

David Villa’s brief stint in the A-League has come to an unspectacular end with his Melbourne City side going down 2-1 to Adelaide United at AAMI Park on Friday night.

The Spanish superstar whose stay in the league has come to an abrupt end after just four appearances struggled to get into the game, becoming noticeably frustrated with the service he was delivered as the match wore on.


It was a frightening Halloween evening for City in so many ways who are still searching for their first win of the season.

Along with losing superstar Villa and the uncertainty surrounding whether he will be back or not, injury prone defender Jonatan Germano went down with a hamstring problem that will see him out of action for another lengthy amount of time.

The match got off to a perfect start for City with skipper Patrick Kisnorbo putting his side up early before Bruce Djite and a Marcello Carrusca penalty ensured United’s undefeated start to the season remained intact.

City did start the brighter and looked to take on Adelaide from the onset. The hosts came agonisingly close to the breakthrough in just the sixth minute when Damien Duff tested the foundations of the post with a thunderous volley.

They were only made to wait a further three minutes to take the lead when Kisnorbo got his head on the end of a Duff corner much to the delight of the 13,000 plus in attendance.

This match was billed as a battle between two technically gifted sides guided by two cosmopolitan tacticians in John Van’t Schip and Josep Gombau.

That battle was a no-contest with Gombau taking the points unanimously.

Gombau’s Adealide were a treat to watch, switching the ball with ease as with their wonderful passing game on full show. Van’t Schip’s City on the other hand were more trick, playing unimaginable long balls while at time looking clueless.

Their ‘Give It To Villa’ game plan came unstuck too many times against Adelaide with the Reds seeing to it.

After the Kisnorbo goal Adelaide controlled the game in only a fashion only they could. While it wasn’t as polished as they have showed in recent weeks, it was more than enough to get the job done against a poor City showing.

Djite continued his goal scoring ways in the 38th minute after a nice passage of play by the reds.

Working the right flank hard all half finally paid off for United when Tarek Elrich crossed in the most inviting of crosses to Djite who duly obliged in rustling it into the back of the net.

Kisnorbo could have so easily went from hero to villain in the 63rd minute when he took down Djite as the bog forward bared down on goal. Ref Chris Beath saved the skippers blushes with only showing a yellow when a red could have been warranted.

The second half just wasn’t working for City who barely threatened Eugene Galekovic in the United goal.

Their best chance in the second stanza came when Villa skipped past three United defenders to get in a shot only for David Williams to sky the rebound into the stands.

That passage of play summed up the second 45 for City.

The winner for United came from the penalty spot nine minutes from time when Carrusca expertly dispatched a penalty kick that Andrew Redmayne had no chance of saving,

The penalty came about when Redmayne was adjudged to have taken down substitute Bruce Kamau with the teen charging towards goal.

The call was spot on leaving Carrusca the chance to give United the three points.

If that was the last time we will see Villa play in Australia, and it almost certainly will be, it was an unceremonious way for such a superstar of the game to bow out of our league.

Much like the rest of the team, it just didn’t seem to go right for Villa despite the effort he exerted.

Villa’s four-game stint at City brought the club two goals and only two points from a total 12 on offer. But the problems lie much deeper than that.

In the past two games City have managed to score three goals, with each of those coming from a defender (Kisnorbo tonight and Hoffman and Wielaert in the derby last week).

With Villa the only recognised attacking player in the squad to score a goal so far this season, there appears to be a serious problem in the front third for City. Villa’s departure only compounds that fact.

Some drastic changes need to happen and fast, or City’s inaugural campaign will be an awful lot like Heart’s final season.

It’s headed in that direction right now.



Melbourne City: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 2. Rob WIELAERT, 4. Erik PAARTALU, 6. Aaron MOOY, 13. Jonatan GERMANO (19. Ben GARUCCIO), 8. Mass MURDOCCA (18. Paulo RETRE 84’), 11. Damien DUFF, 9. David VILLA, 23. Mate DUGANDZIC (15. David WILLIAMS 58’), 24. Paddy KISNORBO (c), 17. Jason HOFFMAN

Unused Substitutes: 20. Tando VELAPHI (GK), 25. Jacob MELLING


Adelaide United: 1. Eugene GALEKOVIC (GK, c), 3. Nigel BOOGAARD, 5. Osama MALIK, 9. Bruce DJITE (4. Dylan MCGOWAN 84’), 8. ISAIAS, 9. Sergio CIRIO, 10. Marcelo CARRUSCA (2. Michael MARRONE 90+2’), 16. Craig GOODWIN, 18. Jimmy JEGGO, 21. Tarek ELRICH, 17. Awer MABIL (24. Bruce KAMAU 72′)

Unused Substitutes: 20. Paul IZZO (GK), 32. Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS
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WSW in Apartheid Champions League Final

When the Western Sydney Wanderers line up against Al-Hilal in the Asian Champions League final on Sunday morning, history will be made.

It could be the first time that an Australian club comes home with continental silverware, and if that does occur, then the football aficionados of this land ought to speak of the achievement with pride.


In fact, even if the Saudi Arabian club gets on top of the chaps from Parramatta and snatches victory in front its home fans, there’s no reason why the Wanderers shouldn’t be flying home with heads held high.

Or is there?

Sport is a great leveller and none moreso than football, which can bring a nation bursting with corruption, poverty and crime and give it a handful of World Cup victories. Football gives the world a level playing field, if only for 90 minutes. Unfortunately, in Saudi Arabia on Monday morning, the playing field of life will not be level.

Is it okay with the impassioned fans of the Wanderers that in Saudi Arabia women aren’t allowed out of the house unless their male guardian is with them? Is it all good according to the backroom staff at Parramatta Stadium that being drunk in Saudi Arabia wins you a flogging, and stealing loses you your hands?

Perhaps the Wanderers board thinks that it’s only a little bit juvenile that Jews – a faith to which the club’s president belongs – aren’t allowed in the land of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and anyone with an Israeli stamp on their passport needn’t get off the plane?

It’s unlikely that ‘yes’ is the answer to any of the above questions. It’s unlikely that any reasoned human being who has enjoyed the fruits of democracy, the fruits of equality and the fruits of human rights will tick the ‘yes’ box to the above questions.

So why is it cool to the Wanderers to go there, play in front of 70, 000 Saudi blokes who left their women at home, and not say anything? It’s not. It’s not cool at all. It’s totally un-cool. That’s not to say don’t play - that would be a terrible idea - but stand up, WSW, and stick up for what is right and just.

In school we all get taught to tell a bully he’s a bully; it’s right up there on the agenda on each kid's first day. When did we forget that message?

Saudi peoples are not bullies; that is not the allegation at hand. Far from it, in fact. But the message coming from that desert kingdom is one of control and oppression, and that’s each bully’s modus operandi. So what is going through the important heads in Sydney’s west? What about the FFA? What do they think ought to happen?

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Tuesday that only 14 Western Sydney Wanderers fans will be making the journey to Riyadh for the historic clash, and only one of them is a female. The fact that that woman is 20 means nothing to the bureaucrats of Saudi Arabia. Like any less-capable being, she needs constant supervision from her male guardian. How can it be that a 12-year-old boy is able to walk around freely without the blink of an eye or the turn of a head, but a 20-year-old female needs to be supervised at a game of football? Even if she was 53 and well-travelled, provided she hasn’t been to Israel, she’d need the same supervision.

That’s crap, Australia, and we shouldn’t allow that to happen to a football fan from our country. As the old adage goes, all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.

Take note, Western Sydney Wanderers, and do something, because each and every young, impressionable football fan deserves it, and that’s way more important than any cup win.
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De Silva is gold as Glory reach FFA Cup Semis

The FFA Cup continued to make its mark on the landscape of Australian football last night with a pulsating Quarter Final clash between Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory at nib Stadium.

Six goals, two red cards, countless bookings, calamitous defending, key injuries and a goal by one of the brightest home grown stars meant the 3,899 in attendance left thoroughly entertained as Glory eventually prevailed 4-2 after extra time.


Indeed, you would be forgiven for thinking that there was at least double the amount of spectators inside the ground given the excellent atmosphere generated, no doubt aided by the fact that Glory’s active supporters were located in the same main stand as everybody else.

Irish striker Andy Keogh again showed his quality, helping himself to a brace as well as two assists, though the biggest roar of the night was reserved for 17-year-old Daniel De Silva’s first goal for the club.

Glory fans want to see De Silva get more game time before he joins Serie A side AS Roma for next season, and afterwards coach Kenny Lowe admitted that more showings of that standard will have him in the line-up more often.

“He’s still young, he’s got to be protected, but if he does that every week, he’ll probably play 90 minutes,” said the Englishman.

“If he’d been around a bit more, instead of being on international duty, he probably would’ve got more of a sniff.”

In truth, the standard of football wasn’t particularly high throughout with both sides making a catalogue of errors as they struggled to put together a series of passes in the final third.

Nobody really cared afterwards though as it was a cup tie and all that mattered was winning, a sentiment echoed by Lowe.

“It’s a cup game, there’s a winner at the end of the night,” he said.

“Everyone knows that and I think it changes the dynamic and the vibe of the game. You chuck in the refereeing elements, extra time and last-minute goals.

“You’ll go a long way to find a game that had everything like that.”

Victory took an early lead through winger Fahid Ben Khalfalladh, who beat Danny Vukovic with a low strike from outside the area, but that was as good as it got for the visitors.

Having lost Archie Thompson to illness prior to kick off, both Besart Berisha (groin) and Matthieu Delpierre (hamstring) limped off and are now in doubt for Monday’s A-League game against the Wellington Phoenix.

They will also be without defenders Daniel Georgievski and Adrian Leijer, both sent off in extra time for second bookable offenses.

Coach Kevin Muscat declined to comment much on the standard of officiating afterwards, but he was bitterly disappointed to see his side exit the competition.

“It hasn't been a good night,” Muscat said.

“I can't recall a night like that with injuries, red cards. Not too much went our way tonight, but we've got to pick up the pieces from that.”

After failing to find the net against Adelaide United on Sunday, striker Keogh got back to his goalscoring ways from the penalty spot following a foul Youssouf Hersi in the penalty area almost immediately after the forward had missed a sitter from six yards.

In the second half of normal time, Keogh peeled away from his marker to nod home a Scott Jamieson corner, capitalising on some awful goalkeeping from Nathan Coe who came for the ball and got nowhere near it.

It wasn’t just about goals for Keogh though, and it was from his unselfish pass that youngster Daniel De Silva was able to score with superb composure in to put Glory 3-2 up after Gui Finkler had forced extra time with a wonderful 92nd minute free kick.

Keogh was again the provider for the fourth goal as he laid the ball into the path of another substitute, Nebojsa Marinkovic, who finished well.

“The subs have gone on and scored the goals, I’ll take credit for that,” Lowe quipped.

With the draw for the semi-finals to take place on Friday, Lowe said that he would fancy taking on Adelaide United at home or away.



Perth Glory starting XI: 1. Daniel VUKOVIC, 5. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 6. Dino DJULBIC, 7. Youssouf HERSI, 9. Andrew KEOGH, 11. Richard GARCIA, 15. Jamie MACLAREN, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 19. Joshua RISDON, 21. Scott JAMIESON, 23. Michael THWAITE.

Perth Glory substitutes: 2. Jack CLISBY, 10. Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 13. Diogo FERREIRA, 18. Jack DUNCAN, 20. Daniel DE SILVA.

Melbourne Victory starting XI: 1. Nathan COE, 5. Mark MILLIGAN, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8. Besart BERISHA, 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 14. Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15. Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 17. Matthieu DELPIERRE, 18. Dylan MURNANE, 22. Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23. Adrian LEIJER.

Melbourne Victory substitutes: 7. Guilherme FINKLER, 10. Archie THOMPSON, 13. Andrew NABBOUT, 16. Rashid MAHAZI, 20. Lawrence THOMAS.
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This Week in Australian Football: Round 4

"I just want the truth."

"You can't handle the truth!"

Well neither can we so you can have this instead.



Crisis for the Central Coast sports dietitian as the players have come back from their team bonding trip taken during the ACL-induced week off an average of one and a half kilograms overweight. The coaching staff is scratching their respective heads regarding the cause of such a rapid piling on of the kilos and are asking what could have happened to the players at their team bonding weekend away up the road at Nimbin. Coach Phil Moss is still trying to find out what was so funny about their first training session back.

Red-hot Melbourne Victory forward Besart Berisha's form, highlighted by his 'hattie' in the weekend's Melbourne Derby, had put him back in the reckoning for Albania. We can reveal that he had been discussing a return to the national team with the Albanian coaching staff. It appeared that Berisha was going to at least make the substitutes bench, however, talks broke down when it was realised that he would not be able to fit in with the teams tactical play. Berisha only possesses two of three vital Albanian striking attributes: strength back to goal and finishing while unfortunately lacking the ability to unsettle opposition defences by flying a remote control vehicle.

David Villa has come under criticism from many sources after refusing to shake hands with anyone and leaving the field immediately after Melbourne City's heavy 5-2 defeat to rivals Melbourne Victory. Villa has defended himself saying that he no longer felt welcome in the stadium as large sections of the crowd were telling him to 'eff off' because 'this city is ours' and that there was only 'one team in Melbourne' which coincidentally was not his own. Villa has become so offended that he is leaving the country in the next week.

The think-tank has been going into overdrive at the Western Sydney Wanderers as they look to translate the Herculean efforts of their Asian Champions League campaign to the A-League. After consulting Adelaide United suits, who suffered the same chalk and cheese performances in Asia and the A-League in 2008, the Wanderers have embarked upon a sneaky plan to change their league fortunes. Tony Popovic was seen loading up a Toyota Hilux ute with AFC hoardings and billboards planning to break them out for the next home league game to fool the players into a better performance. It is not known whether the players and RBB/fans will notice.

Awer Mabil has shrugged off claims that his howler miss from the weekend is the worst ever. "Take it easy everyone, this is not even the worst missed opportunity in the history of Adelaide United. We know a fair bit about that," he reasoned while impressively juggling two league runners-up, two Grand Final runners-up and an Asian Champions League runners-up gong from the Adelaide trophy room.


Next week, I, @kylechandler14, will be reporting live from Suncorp Stadium as I sympathise with Brisbane Roar and their fans as they continue their form to a fourth successive loss, trounced 2-0 by the bye.
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W-League: Key duo set for Glorious return

Perth Glory is set to welcome back key duo Sam Kerr and Collette McCallum for Sunday’s Westfield W-League clash with Melbourne Victory at Lakeside Stadium.

Kerr has missed the past fortnight with a hamstring injury, but coach Jamie Harnwell said the speedy attacker only needed to get through the full training session on Wednesday night to regain her place in the squad.


McCallum, who had major knee surgery last January, is a confirmed starter against Victory after being rested from last weekend’s game, which was played on artificial turf at the Adelaide Shores Football Centre.

Both players were sorely missed as the league-leading Glory suffered a shock 1-0 loss to sixth-placed Adelaide United. It was the Perth side’s first loss of the season after six wins on the trot.

Kerr’s presence up front and McCallum’s leadership in the middle will be vital against a Victory side coming off consecutive losses, including a 2-1 away defeat to the Lady Reds on Wednesday night. Harnwell even flagged the possibility of further changes to his side as they look to bounce back from their first defeat of the season.

“Obviously you’ve got to look at why you’ve lost and the reasons for it and whether there’s people outside the team who are knocking on the door,” Harnwell said.

“The flipside to that is they’ve done everything asked of them for six weeks prior to last week so you’ve got to take that into account and question whether one bad performance should count against them.

“There might be one or two other changes so we’ll just have to weigh up which way we’re going to go.”

Harnwell put the loss down to a combination of factors, such as travel fatigue and a hint of complacency after impressive wins over fellow title contenders Sydney FC and Canberra United in the preceding fortnight.

“We didn’t really turn up on the day, but in saying that we’ve been fantastic for six weeks and you’re always going to have a blip here and there and I’m pretty sure that’s all it was,” Harnwell said.

“We went through the video and just pinpointed a couple of errors that we needed to work on, but at the end of that I basically put a line through the game and said, ‘OK, last week’s done’.

“We’re not going to mention it again and we look forward to a big game this week.”

Victory will be fighting to keep their title defence alive when they confront Glory for the first time this season.

The reigning W-League champions sit one point outside the top four, but have played one extra game than the teams above them on the table.

A four-day turnaround will also test Victory’s stamina, but Harnwell still expects the home side to come out firing.

“It’s not ideal for them to have to back up, but with a Sunday game they’ve probably got enough time to recover,” Harnwell said.

“There wouldn’t be too many players in the league who would be used to playing three games in a week so it may be a factor come the 80th minute if it’s tight, but I can’t see it being a huge influence from the start of the match.”

Victory will be without star striker and former Glory player Lisa De Vanna, who is serving a club-imposed two-game suspension for a breach of Football Federation Australia’s code of conduct last weekend.
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Byline Banter: Contenders and pretenders

The cobwebs have well and truly been blown out this week with goals flying past keepers from all over the park. Some teams are starting to look like title contenders, while others are appearing to be pretenders.

Byline Banter wades through the wash-down and gets you pumped for this weekend’s action using some words that start with B!


Bombs
Every year when the new FIFA video game arrives, the internet and social media saturate with commentary on how hard it is to score goals. Well it may need a complete overhaul after last weekend because the A-League did it easy; unless you’re Awer Mabil, that is. A total of 16 goals were scored last weekend, 17 the weekend before, bringing the season total to 47 from 14 games.

Not only has there been a quantity for fans to rejoice over, but the quality is at an all-time high. Marc Janko’s strike for Sydney FC must be an early contender of the goal of the season.  Some would say that it wasn't that impressive as Roar keeper, Jamie Young would have saved it if he had not just distributed the ball. Well the fact is he wasn't in his goal. Credit goes to Janko for not only his ability to hit the target from 25 yards out, but also for his vision and desire to hit it from there in the first place.

Honourable mentions:
- Milos Dimitrijevic curling effort against the Roar, SFC have scored some beauties so far this season.
- Besart Berisha derby hat-trick.
- Melbourne City using their heads when David Villa let them down.

Bore
That’s Brisbane Bore. They've gone from the penthouse to the outhouse, or maybe that should be without-a-house as they’re still looking for their first points this season. The champions only have Western Sydney Wanderers below them on the ladder, but the Wanderers have a game in hand and a hugely exciting opportunity to win the ACL, so they won’t be that concerned.

Sydney FC proved that possession isn't everything last weekend as the Roar enjoyed nearly 70% of the ball. You could be forgiven for thinking the Sky Blues smelt like Sydney Harbour as Brisbane focused on keeping the ball away from them. But the Roar looked confused when pressure was applied and couldn't find the crisp balls we’re used to seeing them penetrate defence with.

There is a big difference between having possession and doing something with it; Brisbane seems to have lost the latter. Perhaps they should be looking between the lounge cushions during their weekend off.

Honourable mentions:
- Newcastle Jets, show us something, please!
- Perth Glory’s all white away kit.

Burn
Here Melbourne City, have David Villa for 10 games this season. Psych! Yeah, you can only have him for four games. A-League coaches that aren't John van’t Schip and Josep Gombau breathed a collectively sign of relief to news that this weekend’s match against Adelaide United will most likely be Villa’s last for the Yarraside club.

While the reasons for the sudden news of Villa’s departure aren't clear, there is speculation that it’s all Yaya Toure’s fault. Manchester City’s Ivory Coast international will leave during January for the African Cup of Nations, the same time Frank Lampard’s loan deal finishes at the Etihad. City boss Manuel Pellegrini is apparently desperate to keep Lampard around as the Sky Blues struggle to stay in touch with Premier League leaders Chelsea. Extending Lampard’s loan deal would mean there is nobody in the US to drum up New York City, cue Villa.

What’s that? David Villa’s 10-game stint would only keep him here until mid-December anyway, rendering this reason irrelevant? Well that is true, maybe that’s why they paraded Josh Kennedy around to distract us.

Whatever the reason, let’s not be bitter about it. It appears Villa has enjoyed his short stint in Melbourne and when future big names ask for his recommendation, maybe he’ll say the A-League is like sangria. It might not the prettiest looking drink, but it tastes great and packs one hell of a punch.


Honourbale mentions:
- Fans at the Adelaide vs Perth match; 35 degrees feels like 65 degrees staring into the sun.

Biscuits
That’s what the Wanderers will be looking to bring home from Saudi Arabia this weekend: biscuits and the Asian Champions League trophy. The Wanderers will have the upper hand against the 13-time Saudi Premier League champions, Al-Hilal, who have lifted the ACL crown twice before. Despite looking off the pace in the opening 45 minutes of the first leg at Parramatta Stadium, Western Sydney managed to steal a gutsy 1-0 victory.

A small contingent of commendable Wanderers faithful will be making the long trip the Saudi Arabia to support the team, but the wider Australian football community will be behind the Wanderers as they look to become the first Australian club to win the ACL. Good luck, boys!

Honourable mentions:
- Arnott’s Assorted Creams, everyone's a marquee signing in that team.
- Wellington Phoenix showing their healthy appetite against Newcastle.

Bemusement - Observation of the week
Does Marcos Flores think A-League clubs are Pokémon?  He’s now played for Adelaide, Victory, Mariners and the Jets, gotta catch 'em all!


Get involved with the observation of the week by tweeting what catches your eye to @TheFootballSack and using #bylinebanter.
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End-to-End: Round 3

Taking a look at all the weekend’s action, we investigate who had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend and who couldn't wait for the sound of their Monday alarm.

Last weekend provided us with a glut of football as the Melbourne Derby and ACL Final headlined another massive week in football. There were upsets aplenty as league leaders stumbled and cellar dwellers thrived.


Losers
Taking the record for the first club to appear on the losers list twice is the Brisbane Roar. Two weeks ago, the women dropped out of the top four and the men lost their opening round match to Adelaide; things have got much worse for the Roar since then. Their A-League outfit has lost their opening three matches - the first time in their history the Roar have failed to claim a point in their first three rounds - while the W-League outfit have derailed completely, now holding up the bottom of the ladder. If this trend continues, questions will need to be asked as to how things have gone so wrong so quickly.

After round two, Perth Glory were sitting atop both the A-League and W-League ladders, with the two sides winning a combined eight from eight. However, this 100% start came to an abrupt end on the weekend against Adelaide United. The women were surprised by an improving Adelaide team, while the men were outclassed by Josep Gombau’s team. Despite the setbacks, the Glory will still be a force to be reckoned with, but they are amongst our losers for this week.

Finally, Melbourne City had a week to forget, as it was announced David Villa will be leaving our shores much earlier than expected, before being thumped 5-2 in the Melbourne Derby. Hopes were high amongst the fan base as City lead twice during the first half, however, they failed to turn up in the second as Besart Berisha and Kosta Barbarouses tore them apart.


Winners
For the second week in a row, an A-League cross-town rivalry has headlined the news for all the right reasons. While we thought the Sydney Derby had everything, the rivals from Victoria put on a cracker show. The first half was electric, with a fast-paced game providing plenty of goals. While the 43,729 in attendance was short of the predicted 47,000, it was still a fantastic spectacle, especially with the seats brought in. However, the FFA need to do away with this face-off nonsense at the start of the match, it’s a joke rather than building suspense; stick to what’s worked for the last century.

Three games into the season and there is still optimism around Sydney FC - what is the world coming to? While it isn’t surprising Graham Arnold has brought stability to FC, it is a surprise to see Sydney so settled. Despite a disappointing loss to Adelaide in the FFA Cup, the Sky Blues showcased their potential with two of their international signings producing finishes of top class. It will take something special this season to top Marc Janko’s effort.

Our most important winners from the weekend were the Western Sydney Wanderers. Even with a tough start to the A-League season, the Wanderers continued their remarkable Asian Champions League form in their 1-0 win over Al-Hilal. The Saudis dominated much of the first half, but like many teams in Asia before them, they were unable to break through the Wanderers defence; Ante Covic having yet another incredible performance. While the job is only half done, and facing an uphill battle, the Wanderers have given themselves a great chance to be crowned the first ever Champions of Asia from down under.
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W-League: Late Lady Reds comeback shocks Victory

A dramatic comeback has Adelaide United celebrating it's third consecutive win of the Westfield W-League season, overcoming Melbourne Victory with a 2-1 scoreline.

Late goals to Lisa-Marie Woods and a wonder-strike from Tiarn Powell in the 80th and 86th minutes respectively dragged Adelaide back from the brink at the Adelaide Shores Complex.


The Lady Reds survived a late scare as Laura Barnes' 86th-minute penalty flashed off the post, handing all three points to United. Barnes had initially given Melbourne the lead from the spot as Isabel Hodgson was penalised inside the first 60 seconds of the match.

Originally scheduled for November, the Round 12 clash was brought forward due to Melbourne's participation in the International Women's Club Championship, held later this year in Japan.

The Lady Reds were searching for their third win on the trot after stunning league leaders Perth 1-0 last week. Melbourne was two stars down before the match kicked off with Emma Checker and Lisa De Vanna out under a club-imposed suspension.

It couldn't have started worse for United as a foul by Hodgson inside the first minute gave Barnes the chance to fire home from 12 yards. Melbourne's number five shot left and the strike was saved by Barbieri, however, it trickled back to Barnes who had an easy tap-in to give Melbourne the lead.

Adelaide went into the break 1-0 down despite working their way back into the match, with Victory's pressure in the middle of the park causing plenty of headaches for Ross Aloisi's charges.

United's pressure increased tenfold in the second half; more urgency in closing down tightened the game and stopped Melbourne from playing out of the back easily.

Melbourne almost doubled its lead in the 68th minute with former red Racheal Quigley's deft slide-pass opening the defence, allowing Amy Jackson a sight at goal, however, Barbieri made herself big and saved well down low.

Adelaide's added pressure began to show cracks in Melbourne's defence when they were almost undone by a long ball, flicked on to Norwegian Lisa-Marie Woods. The midfield maestro cut inside from the right flank and tried to find Moore at the back post, though it fell just out of reach of the her captain's left foot.

United's pressure paid off when they were handed a lifeline in the 80th minute, Brewer handballing in the area allowing Woods to dispatch the penalty.

Adelaide's fans were in raptures in the 85th minute when Tiarn Powell's wonder-strike gave the Lady Reds the lead. A quick turnover saw McCormick find Powell in space; the substitute's fierce, dipping shot cannoned off the underside of the crossbar leaving Cassie Dimovski with no chance of stopping it.

The 500-strong crowd members were floored just a minute later when McCormick was carded for a handball in the box, allowing Barnes to step up to the spot again. Unfortunately for the visitors, Barnes' second penalty of the night hit the post and deflected out.

The Lady Reds have now won their last three games in a row after looking as though they may struggle early in the season.



Adelaide United starting XI: Barbieri (GK), Iannella, Brogan, Pedersen, Condon, Woods, Hodgson, Borg, McCormick, Holtham, Moore (C)

Adelaide United substitutes: Holmes, Chidiac, Powell, Willacy

Melbourne Victory starting XI: Brewer, Barnes, Simon, Catley (C), Jackson, Quigley, Nairn, Mastrantonio, Goad, Reed, Dimovski (GK)

Melbourne Victory substitutes: Natoli, Eliadis, Koca, Snelleksz
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Tara Andrews: Positional change

Saturday afternoon, a lovely day for a football game, Newcastle Jets vs Brisbane Roar in round seven of the W-League, our second match up of the season. We are past the halfway mark of the regular season so teams are looking to gain momentum and start to put really good performances together, including us.

Last time we played Brisbane, we didn’t play our best and I got a little bashed up by the defenders during the game. So this time we played them, an unexpected change was made on Friday night before our game. I was moved to the left wing and our speedy winger went to the middle up the top.


Now wing has never been my favorite position, I’m not one of those fast, agile players who likes to run at people and get down the line; I’m tall, lanky and hold the ball up to get others involved and occasionally have a cheeky shot. So I wasn’t in the happiest of moods on Friday night when I got home and my parents just kept saying 'you’ll do fine, you’ll be great' like parents are supposed to do.

Saturday was upon me and I was feeling quite nervous for how I was going to go on the wing. I kept telling myself just do the best I can and it will all work out. The game started and I worked my way into it and started to relax and knew I had it. 1-0, 2-0 - we were beating Brisbane Roar 2-0 at half time and we deserved it.

We hung in there, dug deep and got past constant pressure in the first 20 minutes to get on top. Left wing actually wasn’t too bad; I had so much more time on the ball and didn’t have crazy huge defenders charging into the back of me.

We got a 4-1 win and it was a solid team performance. I actually played pretty good there I think, or so I was told, and it helped having an American who is class and runs all day behind me at left back.


Having to adapt to different situations is tough but is done in all aspects of life. It can be hard but most people push through and deal with it; there’s no question about it, you just do it. If my biggest issue is playing on the wing in a football game then I have it pretty good, don’t I?


In round seven of the W-League, there were four upset wins including our win over Brisbane which now puts them at the bottom of the ladder, which I believe could be the first time in W-League history. It will be interesting to see how they react to this situation but it is great to see a more even competition with teams breaking through the barrier of expected losses against good teams.

I watched the Sydney Derby on ABC on Sunday and it was a very entertaining game and awesome to see my former teammate at the Newcastle Jets, Hannah Beard, getting player of the match for Western Sydney Wanderers


We have a week off this weekend so it will be good to recuperate and recharge for the rest of the season.


Tara Andrews is a long-time striker and current vice-captain for the Newcastle Jets, despite only being 20 years old, who recently spent time with the Colorado Pride and has represented Australia internationally with the Young Matildas. She previously held the record for the most goals scored in a W-League match with four against Adelaide United. Keep up with Tara's weekly blogs throughout the 2014/15 Westfield W-League season here.
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