A-League matches continue to come thick and fast over the New Year period with a number of midweek fixtures scheduled in the first two weeks of the year, in addition to the normal weekend round of matches. The most recent midweek match was Newcastle Jets’ 2-2 home draw against Brisbane Roar on Wednesday evening.
The match featured the return from serious illness of Jets defender Johnny Koutroumbis who played the full 90 minutes and whose performance drew praise afterwards from Jets coach Ernie Merrick.
“I thought he was outstanding and he was up against a very good player in [Eric] Bautheac,” Merrick said of Koutroumbis.
“Johnny, for a 20-year-old just recovering from cancer, I just thought it was a great story and a great performance, and I wasn’t going to take him off.
“He’s just responded so well. It would have been great if he got a goal at the end, because he was trying his best.
“Because he tried to do that he got caught out at the other end, but I’d rather he works that hard in a positive point of view and maybe concedes at the back.”
This weekend’s round 11 fixtures kick off in Sydney on Friday night with Sydney FC hosting the winless Central Coast Mariners.
The Rd 11 action continues on Saturday with what is possibly the match of the round to watch, first up in Adelaide.
Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix, Sat 5 Jan, Coopers Stadium @ 5.35 pm
The last time these two teams met was just six rounds ago when Adelaide won 3-1 on Wellington’s home turf, a result which left the Nix languishing in 9th spot whilst the Reds were in fourth. A lot has changed since then, with Wellington undefeated in the following five matches since that game, climbing to 6th spot equal on points to the Reds who are in fifth spot. After three winless rounds, the Reds returned to the winners circle last round courtesy of an injury time Craig Goodwin penalty against the Jets. In this match, fifth spot is at stake and keeping within striking distance of the top four. For the Nix, Sarpreet Singh continues his impressive form. Coach Mark Rudan has boosted his attack with an early signing of Irish International striker Cillian Sheridan who has played a number of seasons in Cyprus with APOEL FC and Omonia Nicosia.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne Victory, Sat 5 Jan, ANZ Stadium @ 7.50 pm
The 8th placed Wanderers have just one win in their last seven matches and come up against second placed Victory which is unbeaten in its last eight matches. The Wanderers will be hoping for a good performance in front of its home crowd against a team it lost 4-0 to in its last outing. They’ll be desperate to avoid a repeat of the scenes of last round when their RBB fans walked out en masse after an insipid first half display against Melbourne City. The Wanderers have signed 24-year-old attacker Kwame Yeboah and released defender Ruon Tongyik. The Victory squad will be strengthened by the return from injury of Raul Buena and George Niedemeier, however the news is not good for star player Keisuke Honda, who is expected to miss another four matches with a hamstring injury.
Melbourne City v Newcastle Jets, Sun 6 Jan, AAMI Park @ 5.00 pm
An in form City has a great chance to consolidate a top four spot, but for the Jets who have dropped points in recent games, late in the contest, another loss could put them further adrift of the top six.
Lying currently in seventh spot on the ladder, the Jets look like the only team of the ones currently outside the top six, which could possibly make it into the top six by the end of the season. They’ve started well in their recent matches posing a threat to recent opponents, especially with players such as Dimi Petratos, Vargas and O’Donovan. However, they’re coming up against a City side which boasts the best defence in the league. Fatigue could also be a problem for the Jets with this being their third match in eight days.
Brisbane Roar v Perth Glory, Sun 6 Jan, Suncorp Stadium @ 5.00 pm
It’s ninth hosting first at Suncorp. The Roar has put in a couple of spirited performances without a win in its last two matches since the shock resignation of coach John Aloisi. They’ll need another spirited performance if they’re to get anything from league leaders Glory who last week even without Ikonomidis and Diego Castro, dominated bottom side Central Coast Mariners 4-1.
Despite Roar’s lowly position, striker Adam Taggart continues to find the net regularly and Roar fans will be hoping he can do the same against his former club.
Perth will have just three days to recover from this match before hosting Sydney FC in an eagerly anticipated midweek clash on Wednesday.
Other midweek matches in the coming week include WSW against Wellington Phoenix and the match-up between fierce foes Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory with both matches scheduled for Tuesday.