5 things we learned in Round 21 of the A-League

The A-League season is coming to the business end and with only six games to go before the finals series, we take a look at what we learned in Round 21.

Adelaide United

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There is still plenty to play for, with the Premiers' Plate and top six places all up for grabs.

There was an F3 derby in which a few stars might have been born, while some of the early pacesetters could come under siege from those finishing with a wet sail.

Here is what The World Game learned from the latest round of action. 


1. Brisbane Roar's defence needs work

John Aloisi's Brisbane looked in fine fettle earlier in the season but defensive frailties mean they are under-pressure from the off when teams decide to attack them.

Their 6-3 loss to Perth Glory in Round 20 was written off as "one of those days" but shipping three on the weekend against Adelaide United and two against Newcastle Jets means 11 goals have ended up in the back of Michael Theo's net in the past three weeks. 

If they are to go the distance, they need to start keeping clean sheets. 

2. Adelaide are the title favourites

Seriously, can anyone stop Adelaide? 

Eight matches without a win has given way to a phenomenal unbeaten run of 13 matches, one which has seen the Reds surge to second, within two points of Western Sydney Wanderers.

As the matches wind down in the regular season, their momentum could take the Reds to the very top. 

3. Sydney are in serious danger

Sydney FC face a tough test away at Melbourne City on Saturday - if the Sky Blues lose and Perth Glory then beat Newcastle Jets on Monday night, Sydney will drop out of the top six. 

Perth then have the Mariners, Wellington, Newcastle, Melbourne City and Sydney themselves to finish the season - a fairly cushy run that could see them seal a place in the finals. 

Sydney, by contrast, have Wellington, the Mariners, Brisbane, and Adelaide before they play the Glory in Round 27. It could well be a sudden-death play-off for a place in the finals. 

Newcastle's chronic inconsistency is good news for Melbourne Victory, who have the quality to hang in there despite their congested fixture list.

4. City lost out in the transfer window

It was a tough January for John van't Schip's side whose ledger has far from been squared by their transfers in and out.

Out went David Williams, Erik Paartalu and Stefan Mauk, while marquee man Robi Koren agreed to have his contract terminated.

In their place came Nick Fitzgerald and Anthony Caceres from the bottom-placed Mariners, as well as Osama Malik, who was out of favour at Adelaide, and off-contract Socceroos defender Alex Wilkinson, who hadn't seen match action since 8 November. 

City have lost to the Wanderers, Newcastle and Wellington since 29 January and the signs are that their depth isn't what it used to be. 

5. Ugarkovic and Rose have bright futures

The F3 derby was a helter-skelter encounter and it was a surprise it only ended 1-0 to the Jets after an end-to-end 90 minutes, which ended with the Mariners battering the Jets - without finding a way through.

But amid the chaos stood two pillars of calm - Jets midfielder Steven Ugarkovic and his opposite number Liam Rose.

Ugarkovic, 21, scored the winner, only his second goal in professional football, but it was his work on the ball and in front of the defence that stood out.

Rose, likewise, was a wise head on young shoulders. The 18-year-old was helped out by the nous of his veteran midfield partner Nick Montgomery, but Rose used the ball cleverly, tackled effectively and looks a real prospect in the heart of the battle. 

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4 min read
Published 29 February 2016 at 12:16pm
By Matthew Connellan
Source: SBS