Five things we learned from A-League Round 18

It is going to be hard for Melbourne City to play with the cards they have been dealt, because those cards have left them with half of their team out.

Melbourne City

Melbourne City are set to be without several of their stars for the clash with Brisbane Roar, after Saturday's controversial Melbourne derby Source: Getty Images

1. Melbourne City have got massive problems

They will definitely be without Bruno Fornaroli, Luke Brattan, Osama Malik, Fernando Brandan and Manny Muscat, each of whom received his fifth yellow card for the season in the 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory, and Tim Cahill, who was red-carded, for Saturday's game against Brisbane Roar.

But the smoke from the derby still hasn't totally cleared and when it does, they could also be without goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis, who faces the possibility of being suspended for up to five games for bringing the game into disrepute after calling Victory striker Besart Berisha a "f***ing gypsy".


Meanwhile, central defender Michael Jakobsen faces a battle to prove his fitness after a calf injury forced him to be replaced at half-time during the match.

Cahill was sent off for "insulting, offensive, abusive language used towards a match official" before he had even come on as a substitute.

He was protesting to referee Chris Beath regarding his controversial decision to allow what turned out to be the winning goal.

The Socceroos superstar has not made any public statement about the incident, but Mark Bosnich said on the Fox Sports program Shootout on Sunday that Cahill had told him he had sworn at Beath and was prepared to accept whatever punishment he received.

"He was red-carded by the referee (because) he told the referee to ‘have a look at the big screen’ and that ‘you’re an effing disgrace’," Bosnich said.

2. The door to the top four is open again

Not so long ago it looked like Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory, Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City had shut the door on any other teams with designs on finishing in the top four.

But a continuation of City's recent indifferent form, with their loss to the Victory, and Perth Glory's 3-2 win over Newcastle Jets means the gap between fourth-placed City and fifth-placed Glory is now just two points.

A severely-depleted City will be at home to the Roar on Saturday, while the Glory is away to last-placed Adelaide United on Friday.

3. Western Sydney Wanderers recorded their most important win of the season

It was only their fourth victory, so there isn't a whole lot to pick from, but the circumstances set it apart.

Wellington Phoenix were at home and, like Western Sydney, were competing for a spot in the top six, but the Wanderers took control of the match in the first-half and by midway through the second, they held a 3-0 lead. The Phoenix only managed to get one back.

It was only the second time the Wanderers had scored more than two goals in a match and Brendon Santalab's double took him to eight goals for the season.

Western Sydney jumped two places, to sixth, with the combination of their win and the loss by previously sixth-placed Newcastle Jets against Perth Glory.

4. Danny Vukovic has plenty of clean sheets to keep him covered

Sydney FC's 0-0 draw with Brisbane Roar represented Vukovic's 11th clean sheet in 18 games this season.

That is more than double the next-best in the competition, which is Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Glen Moss, with five.

Michael Theo produced a great performance in goal for the Roar as well, and his clean sheet was his fourth for the season, which puts him third on the list.

The Sky Blues have conceded just eight goals this season at a miserly average of 0.44 per game.

5. It's amazing what a bit of confidence will do

Central Coast Mariners winger Kwabena Appiah finally scored his first A-League goal in what was his 52nd game in the competition.

It came after he had skinned the defence with his speed down the right and sent a beautifully-timed ball from which Josh Bingham had a shot that was blocked by United goalkeeper John Hall.

Appiah, who had stayed alive, was obviously still buzzing after his tremendous effort in setting Bingham up, because he didn't hesitate to attempt a difficult, side-footed shot which saw the ball fly into the back of the net.

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4 min read
Published 6 February 2017 at 6:43am
By Greg Prichard