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Promotion/relegation announced for A-League in 2016

It's been discussed since the inception of the Hyundai A-League but after ten years of the competition without it, promotion/relegation will be introduced for the 2016 season.

Announced by Head of the Hyundai A-League Damien De Bohun at a press conference in Circular Quay last night, one as yet unknown team will join the competition next year.

Off the back of the strength of the National Premier Leagues (NPL), the NPL Finals Series will become the pathway into the Hyundai A-League, with the relegated team forced to compete in their local state's competition for a year.

As a way of maintaining the ten current A-League club's fanbase, the relegation period will only last a maximum of one year for those clubs, following which they'll be promoted back into the Hyundai A-League along with another NPL club. It means that by 2018 the league will become a 12 team competition, with the possibility of the league growing in the years to follow pending results.

Damien De Bohun in Circular Quay, announcing a new competition format for the Hyundai A-League
It's a monumental step forward for football in Australia and for De Bohun it's a dream that's finally come true.

"This is the culmination of three years of hard work, countless discussions with clubs, and many sleepless nights worrying about the viability of such an endeavour.

"When the AFC made it a prerequisite for garnering an additional spot into the AFC Champions League, we made a decision then and there to chase the dream and make it a reality."

"I know it will be tough on some of the less established clubs should they be relegated - Melbourne City for example find it tough to maintain a crowd at the best of times - but it's for the good of the game."

A buoyant De Bohun fielded questions from media eager to understand the specifics of the promotion/relegation system for over half an hour. Eventually he concluded by quoting PT Barnum.

"Without promotion, something terrible happens... Nothing!"

Details of how Wellington Phoenix fit in the format are yet to be revealed. Also noted was that in the first year of promotion/relegation only NPL teams competing in New South Wales will be eligible.

In other news, it is rumoured Football Federation Australia will look to sell the A-League's free-to-air rights to Channel 7's upcoming digital station 'C7 Sport'.

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PEDs to solve problem in A-League

As the biggest drugs scandal in Australian sport comes to a close, FFA chief executive officer David Gallop is looking into introducing performance-enhancing drugs to the A-League.

In conjunction with A-League referees boss Ben Wilson, the FFA is turning to PEDs to solve an issue that has plagued the competition since its inception - inconsistent and poor referee decisions.


During a press conference held in Kev's mum's back shed, which smelt suspiciously of ganja and cinnamon donuts, Gallop outlined the plan for the awaiting media.

"One of the major concerns Australian football supporters have is inconsistent officiating and we are looking into the use of substances to increase reflexes and rational thinking," Gallop said.

The combination of amphetamine sulphate (speed) and marijuana was proposed by the FFA boss.

"It is our belief that the effects of amphetamine sulphate would increase the attention to detail of A-League officials as well as allow a temporary increase in stamina.

"Less fatigue means a clearer mind to make the correct decisions."

In order to balance the positive and negatives of speed, Gallop suggested combating the effects with marijuana.

"Of course the officials may become irritable as a result so we want to make sure they feel as relaxed as possible," Gallop said.

"With increased reflexes, attention to detail and a more, like, chilled out approach, we believe that we will see a sharp increase in the quality of officiating and less fouls and cards."

It was at this time that Gallop paused the press conference to do 40 pushups and show everyone a video of a cat meowing along to the tune of Roar by Katy Perry, at which he laughed hysterically.

Wanting to assure the Australian public that the effects would last the entire 90 minutes, Gallop continued to unfurl his master plan.

"In order to keep the officials at peak performance, there will be five-minute stoppages after the 25th and 70th minutes, during which the refs will be supplied with both speed and marijuana, reclining lawn chairs and episodes of Adventure Time, all while Buffalo Soldier is lightly played over the stadium PA system."

The Football Sack contacted the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority for comment:

ASADA will be diligent in making sure there is no use of illegal supplements in any sport in this co- wait, did you say A-League refs? Oh. Well. No comment.

To ensure there are no short-term issues for referees, Gallop and Wilson are currently in the process of creating a care plan for the comedown.

"The details are scarce, but the plan is that the officials will be supplied with cold showers and a room filled with breakable furniture and cheap crockery at the conclusion of each match," Gallop said.

"In addition, the officials' parents will be on site and 20 to 30 minutes of affectionate hugging and hair stroking will be supplied."

Gallop also believes that the introduction of the substances could help give wanted exposure to the competition.

"It's been two years since Essendon started handing out drugs and nobody has shut the fuck up about it ever since."

Gallop is currently receiving tenders from potential official suppliers in Cranbourne. The proposal will then be presented to the FFA board after Easter, when it is expected that the idea will be overwhelmingly rejected and Gallop will be issued with a 'please explain'.
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Adelaide remains in hunt for Premier's Plate

Adelaide United made sure they remained in touch with the top four thanks to a 1-0 win over the Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

While the Jets created far more goal scoring chances it was Marcelo Carrusca that made his count for the away team in the 28th minute giving Adelaide the advantage they would carry through the remained of the match.


Adelaide boss Josep Gombau said that he was happy to claim the three points but he conceded that on a different night his team may not have been so lucky.

“I think that today wasn’t a good game for us and I think that is normally a game that you would lose or you don’t get the result,” said Gombau.

“But that’s football and we did something good, the attitude was good and we played compact and in the end we got the result.”

The victory leaves the Reds in 5th place on the Hyundai A-League ladder and just two points adrift of leaders Wellington Phoenix with four matches remaining.

But the Reds coach isn’t getting too far ahead of himself in the pursuit of the Premier’s Plate.

“It’s good to be coming into the last four games and have a chance at taking out the top spot,” Gombau said.

“But the other four teams also have a chance and they’ll be trying to do the right things to finish on top and we’ll just be trying to get the wins.

“If we have chance that’s good but we’re going to take it step by step and game by game and look to ensure we have finals at home.”

Jets gaffer Phil Stubbins couldn’t fault his team’s effort on the pitch but felt based on how many chances his players created they should have taken the three points.

“We should have won the game, we had 54% possession, more shots on goal, more ventures into the front third and our intensity was very good in the second half,” Stubbins said.

“I just feel for the boys, the club and the supporters because it’s alright to demand that we win but we played the game in the right way and if nobody can see that we aren’t watching the same football.

“The problem is obviously not scoring goals and we were unlucky but it’s been the story of campaign.”

But while Stubbins admits the team needs a talisman he was remaining coy about who the Novocastrians were looking at to fulfil the role.

“You have to get someone in your striking role that’s going to score those 10 to 15 goals,” Stubbins said.

“Without those it doesn’t really matter what your brand of football is because if you’re not effectively turning dominance into goals that doesn’t equate to wins.

“But we’re working with the boys we’ve got and it’s not respectful for me to speak about anything involving replacements of any player.”

The home team made the first enterprise of the match after a cagey opening 10 minutes but Edson Montano couldn’t find a home for Enver Alivodic’s searching cross.

The best chances of the opening half fell to Jets midfielder Mitch Cooper who drove one shot at Reds keeper Eugene Galekovic and a second brilliantly blocked on the goal line by Dylan McGowan.

Adelaide took the lead in the 38th minute when Carrusca slotted the ball home after Jets keeper Ben Kennedy blocked Sergio Cirio’s shot back into the path of the Argentinian.

The Jets had a glorious chance to equalise after the break but Montano again couldn’t find a telling touch to tap the ball in at the back post in an event which seemed to summarise the Jet’s season.

However Adelaide have their own cause for concern with Carrusca and Pablo Sanchez both picking up knocks before halftime.

Additionally, the crowd of 6888 all held their breath as Adelaide defender Nigel Boogard landed on his head after challenging for a header in the closing stages forcing Adelaide to finish with 10 men.

Boogard had to be stretchered from the field of play but Gomabu confirmed that he did not sustain any serious injuries.

“He is ok, he’s is now in the changing room and we are very happy that he will be able to travel with us and everything is good.”



Newcastle Jets: Kennedy, Cowburn, Mullen, Regan (Pavicevic 85’), Ki-Je, B. Kantarovski (Gallagher 69’), Caravella, Pepper, Alivodic, Cooper (Burgess 63’), Montano

Unused substitutes: Soalri, M. Kantarovski


Adelaide United: Galekovic, Marrone, McGowan, Malik (Watson 75’), Goodwin, Isaias, Jeggo, Carrusca (Boogaard 42’) Sanchez (Palanca (46’), Djite, Cirio

Unused substitutes: Izzo, Kamau
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Risdon’s ripper gives Glory a much-needed win

Perth Glory’s nine game winless streak game to an end in stunning fashion last night as Josh Ridon hammered home a late goal to give them a 3-2 win over Western Sydney Wanderers.

The 22-year-old full back strode forward before unleashing a pile driver that gave Ante Covic no chance in the visitors’ goal, and admitted afterwards that he had never struck a ball so well.


“Definitely one of the best goals I've ever scored,” he said.

“I was taking the ball forward and going a bit too quick and my options were running out so I just thought the last option was to shoot.”

With the race for the Premiership as tight as you could possibly get, the result was a much needed shot in the arm for Glory’s chances of claiming some A-League silverware.

Their previous win came away to Melbourne Victory on January 2nd, and the last time they picked up three points at home was way back on December 20th when they beat the Central Coast Mariners 4-1.

Coach Kenny Lowe explained after the game that perhaps his side had regressed too far into their shell, and a conscious effort was made to be more attacking in the lead up to Saturday night.

“We’ve gone back and looked at all the games and seen that when we were flying we thought ‘we’re a little bit open, we need to box it off and not be so open’, but I think we went maybe a little too far and too conservative,” he said.

“Andy [Keogh] getting isolated, our wingers working too deep…that’s probably why we were hard to beat.

“But we said we’re in for a penny, in for a pound, we’re in a great position, let’s go and take some risks.”

There was plenty of colour on show amongst the 9415 spectators present with the Wanderers fans travelling in numbers, and both active supporter groups lit up the night with their respective displays of pyrotechnics.

The first half contained few fireworks on the park though, and the hosts in particular lacked real conviction with their finishing.

The only goal of the opening period came on 13 minutes via the boot of Romeo Castelen as he latched on to a ball over the top to score.

After the break, Glory mixed things up a little by pushing Sidnei into a more central role, and it paid dividends within ten minutes as the Brazilian, who didn’t even make the match day squad last week, found the net.

“He’s been injured for a few weeks so I didn’t think he would last but fair play to him, he hung in there until the death,” said Lowe.

Rostyn Griffiths then rose highest to nod home a Scott Jamieson corner, however a misplaced pass from Chris Harold minutes later allowed Iacopo La Rocca to play in Kerem Bulut, and the young striker made no mistake with his finish past Danny Vukovic.

While Wanderers were largely second best on the stats board, they did spurn a number of opportunities to add to their two goals, something that coach Tony Popovic touched on in the post-game press conference.

“The overall result is tough to take, we played very well away from home as we did on Wednesday,” he said.

“The difference was tonight we got punished for set plays and they scored a wonderful goal at the end, but at 1-1 we had two chances that you’ve really got to put away.

“And if we put that away, we go 2-1 up and I’m sure we wouldn’t be sitting here after a defeat.”

It has been an injury hit season for the Wanderers, who have also had to juggle Asian Champions League commitments, but Popovic believes that it’s been a good chance for youngsters like Kerem Bulut to show what they’re capable of.

“He came to us on a very low base in terms of fitness, he had a long period in Turkey of not playing but he’s a goal scorer,” said the former Socceroo.

“He’s young, he has a lot of work to do but we’ve got a few young boys that have been given an opportunity, new boys that came in January and are doing well.”

Wanderers must now pick themselves up for a home game against Melbourne City next weekend, while Glory head to Newcastle to take on the Jets.



Perth Glory starting XI: 1. Daniel VUKOVIC, 5. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 6. Dino DJULBIC, 9. Andrew KEOGH, 11. Richard GARCIA, 14. Chris HAROLD, 16. Sidnei SCIOLA, 17. Mitchell NICHOLS, 19. Joshua RISDON, 21. Scott JAMIESON, 23. Michael THWAITE.

Perth Glory substitutes: 10. Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 25. Mitchell OXBORROW, 27. Dragan PALJIC, 28. Denis KRAMAR, 30. Jordan THURTELL.


Western Sydney Wanderers starting XI: 1. Ante COVIC, 3. Yusuke TANAKA, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 7. Labinot HALITI, 10. Yojiro TAKAHAGI, 12. Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 14. Kerem BULUT, 17. Romeo CASTELEN, 18. Iacopo LA ROCCA, 25. Samuel GALLAWAY, 37. Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS.

Western Sydney Wanderers substitutes: 20. Dean BOUZANIS, 23. Jason TRIFIRO, 33. Nicholas KALMAR, 38. Steve KUZMANOVSKI, 42. Adrian MADASCHI.

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Late goals see Glory, Mariners share points

While Perth Glory are fighting for the top spot on the A-League ladder, the Mariners are fighting to restore pride in the yellow and navy jersey. At the conclusion of Sunday's game, you might say that one team achieved their goal with a final score of 1-1.

The last 15 minutes of play were action packed, with the men from Perth scoring first. A well-taken corner from Nebojsa Marinkovic in the 79th minute found Jamie McLaren in front of goal, who sent Perth to a 1-0 victory after eight winless games.


Just as it seemed the Mariners were going to concede yet another disappointing loss at home, they reminded fans that they are here to finish the season on a high.

A scramble in front of Perth’s goal saw the ball cleared to the feet of Nick Montgomery, who wasted no time in sending a shot flying past Perth's custodian, making it a deserved 1-1 draw.

“We felt that the opportunity was there at half time to win the game, and thankfully Monty’s popped up with an absolute screamer at the end which has given everyone a lift,” Mariners technical director Tony Walmsley said after the game.

The Mariners looked the stronger side in the first half, despite what their ladder position might suggest. The yellow and navy dominated play through the midfield and created plenty of opportunities going forward.

Anthony Caceres’ confidence also seems to have grown since the club’s change of direction, what with scoring a goal last week against Adelaide.

“I’m enjoying my football at the moment," Caceres said before the game.

"Since Tony has come in there has been a new energy around the change room; around the team, and the boys are keen to finish the season strong and I think all that is helping my performance"

It seems the Mariners have embraced their new coaches tactical changes, showcasing some more assertive play in the midfield, and appeared to be looking to go forward as soon as possible.

Nick Fitzgerald was in familiar territory when he came very close to scoring in the 18th minute. A well-distributed ball from Fabio Ferreira found Fitzgerald in the box; his attempt was more slide-tackle than shot, but despite some good hustle the game remained level.

Cernak, Fitzgerald, Caceres and Ferreira were a well-oiled unit in the center of the pitch and although the Mariners weren’t able to put one away, they nevertheless enjoyed a solid period of offense in the first half, somewhat helped along by a shocking period of defense from Perth Glory.

The mariners had another chance to score in the 46th minute, but alas, the hard-working Fitzgerald was unable to keep composure in front of goal, sending his shot soaring well over Jack Duncan’s head.

Hesitation in front of goal has been a major problem for the Mariners this season, one that Walmsley is actively trying to address.

“It was a key focus from the first week I came in, you know, how do we go from the mindset of playing a defensive brand of football to a more proactive style? The quickest way to do that is to ignore the voice in your head which makes you hesitate or second guess,” Tony said.

If there’s one player in the A-League who is hearing that voice in his head, it’s Nick Fitzgerald.

A foul from Perth’s Dino Djublic, who was having a shocking game in defense, won him a yellow card and a free kick for the Mariners. However it was another wasted opportunity from the Yellow and Navy.

The barrage of goals at Glory’s custodian were helped along by some fantastically fancy footwork from Caceres, who seems finally to be living up to the hype surrounding his name.

Djublic, who was already on a yellow, was lucky to escape a red card after taking Cernak down in the 64th minute with a clumsy high tackle, which caught the Mariner in the face. Cernak came off just four minutes later, replaced by youngster Anthony Kalik.

Liam Reddy was forced to make some fingertip saves from the likes of Marinkovic and Garcia, however held onto his record of having the most saves of the season for quite some time before Perth Glory re-entered the game.

A Marinkovic corner found Jamie Maclaren in the box who sent a backwards header straight past Reddy, making it 1-0 in the 79th minute.

The Mariners by this point had nothing to lose, and went hard on attack for the remaining ten minutes.

In the 92nd minute the Mariners prayers were answered in the form of Nick Montgomery, who sent a bullet streaming into the top left corner, taken from outside the box.

There was an audible sigh of relief from Tony Walmsley, as well as a very audible reaction from around the stadium.

The Mariners will face Melbourne Victory next week, away. With only one home game left in the season, ensuring the players have a positive mentality will be key.

“We’ve got a really tough run of games, Wellington away, Victory away twice, Brisbane Roar away and Western Sydney Wanderers at home. So the opportunity is to go and do something special in those games and I’d love for the players to have that experience by the end of the season, to look back on the eight games I’ve been here and to say: ‘Look, we actually did okay,’” said Tony.



Central Coast Mariners starting XI 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Jacob Poscoliero, 5. Zachary Anderson, 7. John Hutchinson (C), 8. Nick Montgomery, 10. Anthony Caceres, 11. Nick Fitzgerald, 12. Liam Reddy (GK), 23. Isaka Cernak, 24. Hayden Morton, 26. Fabio Ferreira

Central Coast Mariners substitutes: 14. Travis Major, 15. Matthew Sim, 16. Liam Rose, 20. Anthony Kalik, 30. Adam Pearce (GK)


Perth Glory starting XI: 6. Dino Djulbic, 8. Ruben Zadkovich, 9. Andrew Keogh, 10. Nebojsa Marinkovic, 11. Richard Garcia, 17. Mitchell Nichols, 18. Jack Duncan, 19. Joshua Risdon, 20. Daniel de Silva, 21. Scott Jamieson, 23. Michael Thwaite (C)

Perth Glory substitutes: 5. Rostyn Griffiths, 15. Jamie McLaren 27. Dragan Paljic, 28. Denis Kramar, 30. Jordan Thurtell (GK)
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Jets beat Wanderers in battle of the bottom

In the battle for the bottom, the youthful Wanderers side that ran onto the field late Saturday Afternoon were unable to defeat the Newcastle, leaving the away team sneak away with a 2-1 win.

Due to their gruelling schedule the Wanderers opted to use a mix of youth players and experienced players against the Jets, whilst familiar face Daniel Mullen was the captain of the opposition.


The Wanderers started with a burst of energy as youngster Jaushua Sotirio had two one-on-one opportunities that could have pushed the home team into the lead very early on.

This was matched by Newcastle’s Edson Montano who similarly had a number of chances, one which specifically saw him trying to shoot into the box from the side where multiple Wanderers were blocking his path of attack.

Sotirio and Steve Kuzmanovski seemed to be the spark that this Wanderers side needed, both heading off on great runs which were just lacking the ability to stay calm and finish the job.

Yet the Jets’ first goal came from a mistake of a Wanderers veteran. Ante Covic charged out of the box and completely misread the play, which left the box empty. Enver Alidovic used this to his advantage shooting the ball directly into the goal as Ante Covic was left sprinting back into the position where he should have been.

This seemed to give the Jets the confidence that they needed to secure the remainder of the match, whilst the Wanderers were left rattled and vulnerable and things began to slowly snowball from there.

A mistake by Daniel Alessi in the 32nd minute left Edson Montano unmarked and armed to score. He was ruled offside just as the ball flew into the net, but in reality he was far from offside and the controversial call did not allow the Jets to double their score.

Alessi’s confidence was clearly knocked and the Wanderers required a bit more experience on the field, bringing on Antony Golec minutes before the first half ended.

The Jets eventually doubled their lead at the end of the first half after a spectacular play by Andrew Hoole to Korean Kije Lee left Ante Covic looking up at the ball flying over him into the goal, the Jets by the end of the first half were up 2-0.

The second half saw the Wanderers gradually bring on more experienced players to ease the pressure on the youth with Yojiro Takahagi and Nikita Rukavystya coming on for Alusine Fofanah and Yianni Perkatis.

Early on in the second, Nick Kalmar who seemed to be invisible up until this point in the match managed to win a free kick. Kalmar decided to take it, curving the ball in and scoring the Wanderers only goal in this match against the Jets.

Kalmar, Rukavystya and Kuzmanovski in quick succession all had chances but none of them had the ability or quality to actually get the job done.

A cross from the corner from Kiji saw Mullen in the final moments from a header come very close to increasing the lead against his old side.

Despite this, there wasn’t nearly as much action in the second half as there was in the first. The Wanderers were left looking deflated whilst the Jets were steadily holding onto the lead, turning what was once an exciting game into a dire and painfully slow one.

The Wanderers will next have a two game week, taking on the Roar on Wednesday and Glory on Saturday both away from home which will see them fighting again to try and jump off the bottom of the ladder.



Western Sydney Wanderers: Ante Covic (C), Yianni Perkatis (45" Yojiro Takahagi), Jaushua Sotirio, Romeo Castelen, Iacopo La Rocca, Jason Trifiro, Samuel Gallaway, Alusine Fofanah (69" Nikita Rukavytsya) , Daniel Alessi (43" Antony Golec), Nicholas Kalmar, Jonathon Aspropotamitis and Steve Kuzmanovski

Unusued substitutes: Labinot Haliti, Dean Bouzanis

Newcastle Jets: Daniel Mullen (C), Taylor Regan, Benjamin Kantarovski, Enver Alivodic (77" Sam Gallagher), Andrew Hoole, Edson Montano, Jacob Pepper (93" Allan Welsh), Mitch Cooper (70" Radovan Pavicevic), Kije Lee, Nicholas Cowburn and Ben Kennedy
Unused substitutes: Michael Kantarovski, John Solari
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Reds and Victory play out thrilling draw

Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory played out a highly entertaining 2-2 draw at Coopers Stadium on Saturday night in front of a bumper crowd of 16,077.

Goals apiece in both halves confined the game to a draw in what was an even result between two teams who prefer attack to defence. Add to that philosophy the mutual dislike for each other and the crowd was expecting a blockbuster affair. They weren’t let down.


In the opening seven minutes the Reds threw a cascade of crosses in front of Victory’s goal, but they were adequately dealt with by the visiting defenders.

Then in the eighth minute Victory stopped its opponent’s momentum through Ben Khalfallah, who’s expertly driven low shot silenced the capacity crowd.

Having received the ball from the delicate touch of Gui Finkler, Khalfallah marched towards goal and belted his shot to the right of Eugene Galekovic to find the back of the net.

Not only were the crowd stunned but so were the hosts, and from then on Adelaide couldn’t stream together the forward passes they were known for in the first half of the season. Hopeful balls the length of the pitch became the order of the day, and aside from an audacious and almost successful attempt from Jimmy Jeggo from miles out, Nathan Coe wasn’t challenged in goal.

But in the 43rd minute the Reds were back as Pablo Sanchez put his head on the equaliser. Collecting Sergio Cirio’s cross over an out of position Coe, Sanchez climbed over his marker and headed in from point blank range, and the enthusiastic Adelaide crowd had reason to celebrate the impending intermission.

After the break the madness resumed, but the Reds enjoyed a great deal more possession as they tried to break down the Victory defence. Eventually they did exactly that after Dylan McGowan – the most unlikely of candidates – managed to a strike a shot into Leigh Broxham’s chest which ricocheted into the back of the net. Just moments prior his first effort was expertly saved by Coe, but the follow up couldn’t be dealt with and Coopers Stadium erupted.

But the dancing in the aisles was soon brought to a halt by the experience of tormentor Archie Thompson. Adelaide have always struggled to deal with the Victory’s senior marksman, and three minutes after McGowan scored the tradition continued as he stepped past Galekovic to slot in an equaliser after Finkler’s tremendous through-ball.

The final 15 minutes saw both teams push forward for the extra two points, but no winner was found and the league’s oldest rivals shared what was on offer before the game, leaving Victory second on the ladder on goal difference. Adelaide remains in fourth, but will drop to fifth if Perth Glory beats Central Coast on Sunday.

Speaking on the important rivalry tie Josep Gombau said he was happy with the way his team played, but not with the result.

“I am happy with the way that we played, with the football that we put on the park, but I am not happy with the result,” he said.

“I think we deserved more… but I can’t say anything to any player, I think they did very well.”

Victory boss Kevin Muscat was more pragmatic about proceedings, saying going home with a point was a fair result.

“I though in the scheme of things we scored two outstanding goals… but it was a tough night for us,” he said.

“Adelaide played very well in what was a big game for them.”

Melbourne Victory will resume its quest for top spot on the ladder when it hosts Central Coast next Friday, whilst Adelaide goes to Newcastle on Sunday.



Adelaide United: 1. Eugene Galekovic (C) (GK), 2. Michael Marrone, 3. Nigel Boogaard, 4. Dylan McGowan, 7. Pablo Sanchez (68’ Miguel Palanca), 8. Isaias, 9. Sergio Cirio, 10. Marcelo Carrusca, 11. Bruce Djite (82’ Craig Goodwin), 18. Jimmy Jeggo, 21. Tarek Elrich

Unused substitutes: Osama Malik, Paul Izzo (GK), Bruce Kamau


Melbourne Victory: 1. Nathan Coe (GK), 2. Jason Geria (45’ Leigh Borxham), 4. Nicholas Ansell, 5. Mark Milligan (C), 7. GUi Finkler, 8. Besart Berisha (89’ Connor Pain), 10. Archie Thompson, 14. Fahid Ben Kalfallah (90 + 1’ Rashid Mahazi), 15. Daniel Georgievski, 17. Mathieu Delpierre, 21. Carl Valeri

Unused substitutes: Lawrence Thomas (GK), Scot Galloway
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Depleted City tops Sky Blues

On a night where they might have gone top of the A-League for the first time since 2010, Sydney FC fell to a 1-0 defeat against a depleted Melbourne City side in front of 11,638 fans at Allianz Stadium.

The match was played under lights and towering replays; the new super screens at each end a retina-melting 277 square metres in size, and so high in resolution that a fan sitting right up the back of Allianz Stadium might think they were actually at the game – if they had a decent view of the screen.


While Sydney were chasing first place on the ladder, Melbourne City was wary of Brisbane Roar behind them in the hunt for the sixth finals spot, and they opened the match on the front foot, winning an early corner before falling back as Sydney settled into possession.

Marc Janko broke through on the right side after 10 minutes, and came within millimetres of scoring his eighth goal in eight games; hitting the inside of the near post with a purposeful toepoke

From there, Sydney played a comfortable half of football: dominating, perhaps, but never really making a meaningful impression on the game – or, more importantly, the scoreboard.

Chris Naumoff and Milos Dimitrijevic had shots from long range, and Sydney might have had a penalty after Patrick Kisnorbo wrapped himself around Janko's legs in the box, but the referee waved play on – the Cove could hardly complain, having been awarded six penalties in as many games previously.

Given the hype in the week leading up to this match, it seemed disappointingly typical that the first half should prove so anticlimactic.

Janjetovic tipped a jabbed shot from Robbie Koren onto the crossbar and out for a corner as the fourth official added on a minute at the end of the first 45 minutes, but pushing in the box meant the half finished as flat as the giant high-definition screens at both ends of the ground.

To this point, Sydney hadn't scored, but they hadn't conceded, either – and while the lack of goals at one end would perhaps have concerned Graham Arnold, he surely would have been pleased by the lack of goals at the other, Sydney having conceded at least once in the first half in four of the last five A-League matches.

Sydney might have been 1-0 up at the break – Arnold would point out the penalty non-decision at the end of the match – but they could just as easily have been 1-0 down, and Melbourne City began the second half determined to remind their opponents of their potential.

The ball fell to Mate Duganzic in the box three minutes after the restart, but he swivelled and shot high behind the goal after Koren ran in front of the ball, nearly taking it away from his teammate.

Sydney eventually wrested back control of the match, but Melbourne refused to go away as easily as they had in the first half, stopping Sydney moves high up the field and breaking with purpose through Aaron Mooy and Duganzic.

While Erik Paartalu made a nuisance of himself up one end, backheeling a shot after a corner fell kindly, Bernie Ibini was doing the same at the other, mistiming a bicycle kick after good work from Brosque to get a cross away.

The home side hit the post for a second time just after the hour after Ibini broke through on the left; Tando Velaphi making solid contact with his boot to deny the striker, who might have squared right to an unmarked Janko in the centre.

Melbourne began to tire in the final half hour, and the gap between midfield and attack stretched. Still, they scored the game's only goal on the break in the 81st minute when Mooy slid a pass through from deep in the left channel to James Brown running through the middle; Brown taking the ball in his stride to round Janjetovic and finish in an empty net.

He leaped over the advertising hoardings and ran across to the few Melbourne supporters who'd made the trip, while Sydney occupied themselves by looking stunned, disgusted, and suddenly awake.

Ibini and Janko threw themselves around after the restart, Janko earning himself a yellow card as tempers finally – finally­ – threatened to flare with 10 minutes remaining.

Sydney continued to whip balls across to the strikers, Robert Stambolziev now up front with Shane Smeltz and Janko, but the final few desperate attempts – a Smeltz header from the edge of the six yard box aside – went well off target, and Sydney fell to their first defeat in nine games.

Sydney leaves behind their big city comforts for the smaller, inferior screens of Wellington next week as they attempt to make up ground lost here against a title rival, while Melbourne City travel across town to the Western Sydney Wanderers, where they will try to hold their position ahead of Brisbane Roar in sixth.



Sydney FC: Janjetovic, Ryall, Jurman, Petkovic, Gersbach, Tavares (Stambolziev 84'), Dimitrijevic, Ibini, Brosque, Naumoff (Smeltz 61'), Janko


Melbourne City FC: Velaphi, Retre (Symeoy 75'), Kisnorbo, Jaliens, Clisby, Germano (Murdocca 73'), Mooy, Paartalu, Koren, Dugandzic (Ramsay 71), Brown
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Osama Malik commits to United

Adelaide United has confirmed that defender-cum-midfielder Osama Malik will remain at the club, having committed himself to Josep Gombau’s squad for two more years.

The 24-year-old Adelaide local has been an integral member of Adelaide’s successful squad this season as he formed successful relationships with fellow defenders Tarek Elrich and Nigel Boogaard.


But it’s his athleticism and brave defending that has helped Malik become one of the most respected players in the A-League over the last two years, despite the fact that he still feels he’s got more to learn in the top flight of Australian football.

In an Adelaide United media release on Thursday Malik said: “in the last year or so, I’ve learnt so much under Josep and the coaching staff, but I think I have a lot more to learn from them, so I’m looking forward to improving as a player over the next few years.”

“(Over the next few years) I want to become an important part of this team, grow as a person, become a bit more of a leader,” he said.

It’s a good time for the former North Queensland Fury player to express leadership ambitions as his club continues its drive to Asian Championship qualification.

Despite faltering with some mid-season blues, the Reds are still a very good chance of qualifying for the continent’s supreme club championship, and Malik said it would be bitterly disappointing if his side were to fall short of playing in the competition after the A-League’s tenth season.

“Since I came back (to United) I’ve been part of some quality teams, but I think in terms of team chemistry, I think this is, by far, the best it’s ever been,” he said

“Fortunately, most of us (players) have re-signed and we’ve got a very good squad and one that can push on and hopefully achieve some more things in the next few years.

“If we don’t finish in the top three this season, I think it’ll be disappointing for everyone. We definitely have the arsenal in our team to go all the way.

“We’ve shown in the past that this is a club that can compete in Asia and we’ve made the final as well, but domestic success is also very important for us.”

Malik is one of the most important signatures for Gombau to achieve this season, with Boogaard confirming that he will leave the club for cellar-dwellers Newcastle Jets next season.

But it wasn’t always easy going. The Football Sack reported a fortnight ago that Malik was holding out on putting ink to paper following some interest from clubs in Europe.

That would have meant a significant defensive reshuffle for Gombau in the off-season, but it’s one less thing for the Spaniard to worry about as the season draws to a close.

With Malik’s future secure the Reds squad can switch its focus to its bitter – and incredibly important – rivalry clash with Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.

If Osama Malik wants to display leadership potential, this is the time to do it.
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Sky Blues trump Roar in goal fest

Sydney FC beat Brisbane Roar in a 5-4 thriller at Moore Park on Sunday afternoon, in conditions comparable to a localised South-East Asian monsoon.

Sometimes there is analysis. Sometimes there are tactics, and sometimes there are statistics, and sometimes there is Craig Foster talking ad nauseum about passing in triangles.


And then sometimes, you have to sit back, forget chalkboards and positional semantics, and just accept a game as plain weird. The game often flirted with quality but settled eventually on circus instead, as Mark Janko scored a hattrick, and Brisbane threatened an upset with a late three goal comeback.

Brisbane took first advantage of the game’s breakneck speed; Henrique scoring after only five minutes when he finished cooly across Janjetovic after being slipped through on the edge of the box by Solorzano. Sydney reacted immediately, and two minutes later Matthew Jurman forced an equaliser with a curling effort from 18 metres – “He usually uses that foot for getting on the bus to Bondi!” squawked Andy Harper in commentary.

The early frenzy cooled, and Brisbane began to find a rhythm – had Solorzano’s finishing been better, they might have found a lead, too; the striker spooning what should have been a relatively simple shot high over the crossbar.

Then, midway through the first half, the weather changed, the heavens opened, and the apocalypse threatened. Sydney began to dominate, though their crossing was poor; having more joy through Ibini on the ground.

It was Ibini who, in the 37th minute, played Alex Brosque in towards the Brisbane goal, and the Australian international fell under minimal (but nonetheless penalty-worthy) contact to leave Marc Janko with the opportunity to extend his scoring run to seven consecutive games from the spot. He did, and Sydney deservedly went into the break a goal ahead.

Sydney looked to pick up in the second half where they left off in the first, though Brisbane were eager to reassert themselves as well. In a compelling period of play beginning in the 50th minute, Bernie Ibini streaked purposefully through the Brisbane midfield and fed Naumoff, whose shot was saved and broke to Henrique. The Brazilian played in Petratos, and his dinked cross over the onrushing Janjetovic was cleared to Ibini again, who skipped towards the right to pass to Naumoff again. This time, the winger smacked a firm cross to Janko in the centre, and the Austrian finished with ease to give Sydney a 3-1 lead.

The stadium received another short, borderline violent drenching while, ironically, and to the detriment of the first half, chances began to dry up for both sides. Play often literally became bogged down in midfield, though Andrija Kaluđerović and Mickael Tavares in particular continued to attempt to inspire an attacking mentality in their teammates.

Sydney were awarded a second penalty when Janko went down after a shove in the back, and he completed his hattrick with a confidence emblematic of the A-League’s leading goalscorer.

From there, it got silly. Andrija Kaluđerović scored a penalty in the 79th minute, the third of the game, and Steven Lustica followed up five minutes later to take Brisbane within a goal of their opponents at 4-3.

Alex Brosque seemingly sealed it in the 89th minute with Sydney’s fifth goal of the game; and Graham Arnold wheeled around, looked up into the rain, and allowed himself to relax the muscles in his titanium face – if only for a minute, as Dimitri Petratos finished the deluge with Brisbane’s fourth. Injury time followed, but neither side could muster up another goal – not that anyone could complain.

Graham Arnold will be pleased with the result – Sydney, now, move one point behind Wellington – but understandably ropeable about the performance: in their past five matches, Sydney have conceded 12 goals despite picking up 13 points.

Looking towards the next round, Sydney host Melbourne City on Friday night as the visiting team looks to cement their place in the top six while the Sky Blues target another minor premiership.

Brisbane Roar head home to Suncorp Stadium for a match against Wellington Phoenix on Sunday night, when they will attempt to stop a team from New Zealand taking out the top Australian football competition, and sending national confidence back to the Verbeek era.



Sydney FC starting XI: 20. Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk) 2. Seb RYALL, 5. Matt JURMAN, 6. Nikola PETKOVIC, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 11. Bernie IBINI, 13. Christopher NAUMOFF, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 16. Alex GERSBACH, 21. Mark JANKO, 27. Mickael TAVARES

Sydney FC subsitutes: 1. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 9. Shane SMELTZ, 17. Terry ANTONIS, 34. Robert STAMBOLZIEV, 23. Rhyan GRANT


Brisbane Roar starting XI: 2. Jerome POLENZ, 4. Adam SAROTA, 5. Corey BROWN,10. HENRIQUE,12. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 15. James DONACHIE,17.Matt McKAY (c), 19. Jack HINGERT, 21. Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Dimitri PETRATOS, 33. Luke DeVERE, 34. Shannon BRADY

Brisbane Roar substitutes: 3. Shane STEFANUTTO, 8. Steven LUSTICA, 9. Andrija KALUDEROVIC, 28. Brandon BORRELLO, 36. Fraser CHALMERS (gk)
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