Melbourne Victory v Melbourne City
Melbourne Victory did it tough on Saturday night, coming from behind with 10 men to rescue a point against their cross-city rivals.
The Vuck made a nightmare start at Marvel Stadium, with centre back Georg Niedermeier clumsily conceding a penalty on the 15 minute mark. The lumbering German horribly misjudged the bounce of a long ball from Ritchie De Laet, letting the speedy Jamie Maclaren through on goal.
Attempting to make up for his error, Niedermeier could only barge into the back of the Socceroos striker. Referee Peter Green pointed straight to the spot, and produced Niedermeier’s second yellow card, having booked him only two minutes previous for a rash tackle on Maclaren.
Having won the spot-kick, Maclaren stepped up to take it himself, cooling slotting it beyond the reach of Lawrence Thomas to make it 3 goals in his first 3 games in City blue.
Kevin Muscat was forced to withdraw the livewire Elvis Kamsoba for team balance, introducing James Donachie to the backline, as Victory went into damage control.
Vuck hearts were in mouths on the stroke of halftime when Rostyn Griffiths lined one up from range, but his powerful effort struck the base of the post.
Victory found a way back level just after the restart. Keisuke Honda’s ball picked out Kosta Barbarouses, who appeared to have run out of room for a shot, but somehow managed to squeeze his strike from an acute angle between Eugene Galekovic and his near post. The veteran gloveman, who has been in superb form all season, will not look fondly upon the replay.
And 1-1 was how it stayed, with City playing cautious, unadventurous passes, and Victory happy to settle for a point given the circumstances, with Barbarouses’ goal the only shot on target they mustered in the entire 90 minutes. Only Luke Brattan’s 61st minute long-ranger looked in danger of finding the back of the net, but it crashed back off the crossbar.
The result leaves Victory sitting third on 38 points, and City move up into 5th on 29.
Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC
The Phoenix found little joy at their home away from home in Campbelltown, as they went down 1-0 to an Adam Le Fondre penalty.
Reza Ghoochannejhad went mightily close to opening his account for the Sky Blues in the 7th minute after being put through by his strike partner, but Filip Kurto produced an outstanding one-on-one save with his outstretched right hand.
Josh Brillante was the next to find Ghoochannejhad in space in the 21st minute, but the Iranian striker side-footed against the post.
The Phoenix struggled to create clear openings. The closest the Kiwis came to scoring was through David Williams’ long range curler after halftime, but the 25-yard effort drifted just wide.
Instead it was Sydney who found the breakthrough. Milos Ninkovic’s brilliant reverse pass found the run of substitute Alex Brosque, who tried to round Kurto, but the goalkeeper brought him down.
Le Fondre stepped up to power his spot kick spectacularly past the helpless Kurto, straight down the middle and in off the crossbar.
Phoenix substitute Max Burgess had his side’s best chance in the 82nd minute, but his shot lacked conviction and was easily saved by Andrew Redmayne.
The win propels Sydney into 2nd place, while Wellington remain inside the finals spots in 6th. All may not be well inside the organisation, however, as Mark Rudan slammed the club hierarchy post-match for moving their home game to Campbelltown Stadium.
“Put it this way,” said the furious head coach, “I didn’t think the club thought, or had the confidence, that we would have the season that we’re having at the start of the season when they made that decision.”
“We had almost 23,000 at Eden Park last week. We could’ve played there again today.
“But I don’t think they had the confidence or the trust in my players and my coaching staff to have played well and found an alternative in New Zealand.
“Because they were alternatives.”