Sydney's Winning Streak Ended By Brisbane
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Story by Jeremy Ruane
Brisbane Roar brought an end to Sydney FC's winning streak in the Hyundai A-League on the penultimate weekend in November, but the league leaders retained their six-point advantage at the top of the table, despite being held to a 1-1 draw.
Sydney should have had the points well and truly wrapped up before half-time in front of 17,322 fans at Suncorp Stadium, but squandered numerous chances other than that taken by Josh Brilliante thirteen minutes into the contest.
Brisbane made their rivals pay for their profligacy five minutes before half-time, Thomas Kristensen netting against the run of play against opponents who continued to pound away in search of a winner, but who were fortunate not to finish the match with just ten players on the park after referee Alan Milliner appeared to book Rhyan Grant twice during the match, but didn't send him off.
A late own goal prevented Melbourne City from making much of a dent on Sydney's advantage at the top of the table, as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Western Sydney Wanderers in front of 14,232 fans at Spotless Stadium.
They witnessed a match not short of controversy, particularly six minutes into the second spell when Kerem Bulut had a perfectly good goal ruled out by the offside flag, which would have put the home team in front.
Instead, they were trailing four minutes later as Tim Cahill fired City in front. And they looked to be on course for all three points until the ball ricocheted into the net off an unsighted Neil Kilkenny, an own goal which pleased the local faithful no end.
Perth Glory took full advantage of Melbourne Victory's postponed match at Wellington Phoenix - an earthquake early in the week left Westpac Stadium in need of repairs - to move into the top four, as they came from behind to overcome Adelaide United 3-1 at NIB Stadium.
10,011 fans saw the visitors enjoy the better of the first half, and it was United who opened the scoring half-way through the half when Josh Risdon put through his own net.
But the locals' disappointment turned to delight just three minutes later when Rostyn Griffiths hammered home the equaliser. And he was to play a significant role in the second goal, which saw Adelaide coach Guillermo Amor sent to the stands immediately afterwards.
Griffiths clattered into Eugene Galekovic as the United 'keeper caught a cross in the 67th minute, the ball spilling loose to present Andy Keogh with the chance to bury it in the net.
The visitors were up in arms after the goal was awarded by referee Jarred Gillett - you've seen defensive free-kicks given many a time in the same situation. Amor took his protests too far, and after he was sent upstairs, he looked down to see Jordan O'Doherty being dismissed for his second bookable offence, reducing Adelaide to ten men for the duration.
Keogh took full advantage of Perth's numerical superiority in stoppage time, executing a diving header to clinch the points for the Western Australians, while leaving the champions firmly entrenched at the bottom of the table.
In the final game of the round, 11,238 fans piled into McDonald Jones Stadium to witness the first F3 derby of the season, and they saw Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners battle out a 1-1 draw, with the travelling side hanging on after playing out the last twenty-five minutes with just ten men on the park after Liam Rose committed his second bookable offence.
Just before the interval, Jake McGing had headed Central Coast in front, but that was matched by a counter-attacking strike from Morten Nordstrand just sixty seconds before Rose saw red.
Cue a rearguard action from the ten men, with McGing - a vital goal-line clearance - and goalkeeper Paul Izzo, who produced a string of timely saves, keeping the visitors in the contest, and ultimately earning them a point.
Central Coast and Perth get the eighth round action under way on Thursday evening when they meet at Central Coast Stadium, while Western Sydney and Brisbane lock horns at Spotless Stadium twenty-four hours later.
On Saturday night, Melbourne Victory and Newcastle meet at AAMI Park prior to the clash of Sydney and Adelaide at Allianz Stadium, while on Sunday night, Melbourne City welcome Wellington to AAMI Park.
Brisbane Roar 1 (T. Kristensen (40)), Sydney FC 1 (J. Brilliante (13)) HT 1-1
Newcastle Jets 1 (M. Nordstrand (64)), Central Coast Mariners 1 (J. McGing (42)) HT 0-1
Perth Glory 3 (R. Griffiths (25), A. Keogh (67, 90)), Adelaide United 1 ("oggie" (22)) HT 1-1
Wellington Phoenix v. Melbourne Victory, postponed - earthquake issues
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 ("oggie" (90)), Melbourne City 1 (T. Cahill (55)) HT 0-0
Hyundai A-League Standings (External Link)