Five things we learned from A-League Round 12

Poor scheduling, historic defeats and derby delights capped off another telling round of A-League action this past Christmas weekend.

Gombau Aloisi Milligan

(Left to right) Josep Gombau, John Aloisi and Mark Milligan Source: AAP / Getty Images

Bin Thursday night football

"We’re not the only team to have suffered from this situation this season and it’s something that has to be addressed looking forward."

Brisbane Roar’s vice-chairman Chris Fong left little to the imagination after just 7,031 fans turned up at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night, as goals to Andy Keogh and Diego Castro helped Perth Glory claim a 2-1 come-from-behind win.

Fong’s comments echoed that of Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp’s from earlier in the season, when a little over 5,000 fans attended their home match against Adelaide United.

Across the three Thursday night fixtures this season, an average crowd of 6,844 fans have attended and is yet another example of Football Federation Australia's incompetence to effectively administrate the game.

"The clubs are losing a lot of money as it is, and games on dates like this just compound an already difficult problem," Fong said.

"It has to be looked at urgently by the FFA."

The decision to have Roar play at home on a Thursday night backfired dramatically after the Big Bash League’s Brisbane Heat attracted over 27,000 fans the night before at The Gabba.

In games scheduled between the usual Friday-Sunday slot, the Roar have averaged 10,455 fans through the gates this season – a healthy figure considering the club’s ninth-placed position.

While A-League boss Greg O’Rourke has acknowledged the threat the Big Bash League brings, scheduling matches uncommon with this country’s weekly football calendar, in an attempt to compete, won’t help his bid to resurrect this regressing product.

All that four-nothing

One win, one draw, four losses, three goals scored, 14 conceded.

Josep Gombau’s time in charge of Western Sydney Wanderers thus far has been a disgrace.

Compiled by a 4-0 defeat to Newcastle Jets on Friday night, the club’s first ever loss in the Hunter, it seems the patience in Gombau’s project has finally worn out.

When asked if the players had fully grasped the Spaniard’s playing style, Wanderers forward Mark Bridge said: "I mean, look, second half, we played our own formation …"

Gombau’s questionable selections continued to attract the ire of the club’s supporters as captain Robbie Cornthwaite sat on the bench for the second straight game against the Jets.

In his absence, 34-year-old Michael Thwaite struggled to cover for Jonathan Aspro’s lack of pace, touch and overall ability to defend, while the team’s overall shape routinely ballooned out of proportion in transition.

As the travelling RBB turned their back on the players during and after the match, assistant coach Hayden Foxe’s shock resignation adds another layer to the story as speculation mounts as to just what's transpiring behind closed doors.

"It’s a bit all over the shop at the moment," Bridge said.

"I mean, I can’t remember the last time – in three weeks, this team’s conceded nine goals.

"It’s not a championship-winning team if you’re conceding that many goals in three weeks."

Should the club continue to produce such paltry performances in the coming weeks, one has to wonder if Gombau’s philosophy is one worth waiting for.

Winning is a habit

"I'm a winner - that’s all there is to coaching and playing."

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold did not shy away from the praise after his side whipped Wellington Phoenix 4-1 on Saturday night.

Three goals to Bobo and one from Poland international Adrian Mierzejewski, midway through the first half, capped off a comfortable performance against the Phoenix – one that ensures the Sky Blues end the year the same way they started it: on top of the A-League ladder.

It's been a historic year for the club, with all three domestic honours in their possession and only two league defeats to their name across 33 matches.

"When I was a kid I had to win everything and I'm still the same today, driving these players every day to win," Arnold said.

With the Socceroos circling, Arnold’s insistence on perfection may prove pivotal in his preference to remain at the club and steer them to a successful title defence and legitimate tilt at the AFC Champions League in the near future.

Life at the death

Melbourne Victory's waning season found new life after Mark Milligan’s 96th-minute penalty snatched all three points from cross-town rivals City at the death on Saturday night.

Dean Bouzanis' clueless attempt to shield a potential Milligan shot inside the box left the referee no choice but to point to the spot just when a point seemed all but safe, something City coach Warren Joyce felt was coming.

"I thought we were dopey before (the goal)," Joyce said.

"There was a drinks break, we (were) talking to the boys about concentrating."

With the win, Kevin Muscat’s men are now up to fifth on the ladder and three points adrift of City in third.

"There are so many stories to be written and told from now and the end of the season," Muscat said.

The result was the Victory's maiden win in Melbourne this season and marked the first time they've won back-to-back fixtures since April – a statistic they will surely look to build upon as they continue to overturn a season that at times seemed destined for the worst.

Red corner wins Boxing Day bout

In the league's sole Boxing Day fixture, Adelaide United returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Central Coast Mariners at Coopers Stadium.

After Ryan Kitto’s first-half finish brought the 10,313-strong home crowd to their feet, Paul Izzo made sure they all went home happy with a number of saves throughout the contest as the Reds returned to the top six.

Despite boasting just one win from their past eight trips south of the border, Paul Okon's side struggled to amend a dismal run of recent results that had seen them slip down to seventh after back-to-back defeats.

And while United’s Marco Kurz has had his own difficulties stringing positive results together this season, he will no doubt fancy his side's chances at home to the Roar on Saturday.

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Have a story or comment? Contact Us

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Watch nowOn Demand
Follow SBS Sport
6 min read
Published 27 December 2017 at 9:54am
By Jonathan Bernard