The new A-League season is now in full swing and matchday two didn’t lack goals, controversy or entertainment. With the Sydney Derby being front and centre of the headlines for the wrong reasons, Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory played out a thrilling clash at AAMI Park on Sunday night, while the Central Coast Mariners and Wellington Phoenix continued their impressive starts under their new managers.
VAR wreaks havoc in another local derby to start the season
Two matchdays and now two derbies which have ended with VAR controversy.
With the game at 2-0 and Sydney FC firmly in control, Western Sydney Wanderers thought they found a lifeline when Roly Bonevacia blasted home from range to set up a grand-stand finish at the SCG. Incredibly, the goal was ruled out for what at first seemed to be a foul on Michael Zullo by Jashua Sotirio. Wanderers fans and pundits alike deemed it an extremely harsh call against the Wanderers forward.
The decision to overturn the goal was still not clear until the conclusion of the game when referee Chris Beath explained that Sotirio was in fact offside in the lead-up to the goal.
Now, the big issue is not with the use of VAR, but instead the lack of education imparted on the referees. In two derbies we have seen two very soft and subjective calls which has potentially costed teams’ points. The offside call was there, but at the time Beath signalled for a foul, thus causing a major storm among social media and pundits.
Referees are not as confident with their own on-field decisions, and with VAR coming in, it seems that they are second-guessing whether they are making the correct call. If Bonevacia’s goal stands, no one bats an eye, the game continues and we get a grand-stand finish at the SCG.
Instead, we have a second straight derby where the biggest talking point is not the quality of the football on the field but instead the VAR decisions.
Maybe, Boz is right, VAR could do with a suspension for the time being.
The Glory expose Victory’s fragilities in an incredible conclusion to the round
Perth have been the big improvers this season under Tony Popovic and it was on full show on Sunday night.
A fast start saw them pick apart Victory’s new formation which so far has had little success. The Glory’s impressive back three set-up saw both Jason Davidson and Ivan Franjic getting forward as wing-backs providing brilliant service to Andy Keogh and co. The Victory were able to roar back into the game but the Glory’s resolute turnaround saw them come away with their first win under Popovic.
However, the new diamond set-up under Muscat continues to worry as both Keisuke Honda and Terry Antonis continue to be placed in less than comfortable roles out wide. As a result, the Victory are not playing to the best of their abilities and need to go back to the system which saw them win the championship last season.
The Glory look set for a real tilt at the title as they have been the most impressive of the bunch thus far this season.
Adelaide’s attacking woes set to multiply with fresh injuries
Adelaide will enter their FFA Cup final without a recognised number nine with George Blackwood and Baba Diawara both set to miss their clash with Sydney FC.
The Reds who have now drawn their opening two games have shown signs of being a contender this season but are still lacking a cutting edge. Craig Goodwin and Ben Halloran will have to fill the gap in the mean-time and provide a goal-scoring avenue for Marco Kurz’ men in the weeks to come, as both will have to play in unfamiliar roles through the middle.
Goodwin was able to get on the score-sheet on Friday night, but his best role is not the man banging in the goals but instead whipping in deadly crosses on his lethal left-foot.
It all remains to be seen how Kurz will use his limited attacking options in the meantime.
Athos Sirianos, Nicholas D'Urbano, Josh Parish, Marissa Lordanic, Christopher Chrysostomou & Tim Sperliotis