A-League review: Moments make Melbourne City's win; hope's killing Newcastle
It's Monday, so here's the good, bad and ugly from Round 18 in the A-League.
Melbourne City's moments
In matches that don't contain much in terms of overall creation, they can usually be decided by a flash of individual skill or luck and randomness. In a way, Melbourne City's 2-1 win over local rivals Melbourne Victory on Friday was a result of all of those things. Florin Berenguer's first-half goal was a fine example of that. City's entrance into the opposition half -- while also paying particular attention to Josh Brillante drawing Migjen Basha out of position -- comes from Adrian Luna's outrageous attempt to flick the ball past Ben Carrigan with his back.
The attempt catches Carrigan off guard, and the ball bounces somewhat fortuitously into Luna's path. The transition is on from that point and much like City's second goal, Berenguer's timely entrance into a goal-scoring area from deep opens everything up. Berenguer's backheel into the ground, in order to assist Jamie Maclaren, was similarly astounding to Luna's moment. Goals change games, and City could wait and pounce after claiming the ascendancy. Ultimately, though, there were three goals from a total of four shots on target, and one of them came directly from a goalkeeping error.
Fast and slow
From a formation standpoint, Brisbane have tried to create as much room as possible for their forwards to operate, throughout this season. In their come-from-behind 2-1 win over Adelaide on Saturday, though, the Roar had the individual capacity to capitalise on it. Although long-term sustainability remains an unknown, Scott McDonald's introduction has created a different dynamic in the team's phases of possession and further incorporated the midfield. Now, the tactical trade-off that comes with the 36-year-old's insertion could explain Dylan Wenzel-Halls' regular run of starts, as opposed to Aaron Amadi-Holloway and Mirza Muratovic.
However, when coupling technical aptitude and the angles he instinctively creates, Muratovic works as a clever complementary piece when collective energy levels drop. Closer to goal and with the game still in the balance, Brisbane could both keep the ball and penetrate. Wenzel-Halls is by no means without effect in this sense, spending the first 56 minutes stretching Adelaide's defensive line. Although Wenzel-Halls is also impactful, his primary role at the moment is to make defenders work. He and McDonald play as a modern equivalent to the traditional tall and small strike duo -- fast and slow. For the time being, it's changing the complexion of Brisbane's games.
Newcastle, ceilings and floors
Despite the fact Central Coast drew level on Saturday, Newcastle were relatively comfortable 4-3 winners. The Jets are a strange case, because the ladder both does and does not lie in a way. The latter does lie in the sense that Newcastle are always within touching distance in games. They create -- good quality opportunities along with half-openings and such -- and Roy O'Donovan's return from Brisbane could be a necessary piece in the collective not being so profligate. One need only use the A-League xG table per Rob Scriva to argue Newcastle are better than the 13 points they now have, after Saturday's result.
Then again, when taking into account collective susceptibilities defensively at earlier stages of the season, some results were deserved. Even on Saturday, Newcastle could have put the result beyond any doubt before Ruon Tongyik's goal on the stroke of half-time. Two goals from set pieces -- with one coming via old friends, Jack Clisby and ball watching -- do not suggest the result or performance was transformative. There's always hope with a team that does create opportunities like Newcastle, but it's the hope that kills.
Curse you, football
Perth Glory's 4-2 win over Wellington Phoenix on Friday was as Perth Glory as one could get. An opening of relatively low-quality looks at goal, a transition providing a set-piece opportunity, and the ascendancy in the scoreline coming from there. Bruno Fornaroli's work in isolation allows Nicholas D'Agostino to double the margin before the interval, in a similar way Diego Castro in isolation was a reference point for the collective.
Now, aesthetic is never going to be aligned with Tony Popovic's football and implementation but on the topic of Castro, this still would have been an interesting contest with full-strength sides. That Wellington were still able to get back within a goal with a man down, before Fornaroli finished late in transition, spoke volumes. We won't get that now with Chris Ikonomidis out for the season, although Joel Chianese effectively took his starting spot before injury struck. Meanwhile, almost as soon as Alex Rufer returned, Matti Steinmann has been sidelined.