The Offside Trap – Round 2 Preview

The A-League is back! I would say with a bang but it was more of a snap, crackle and pop. There were goals, VAR decisions, yellow and red cards and last minute equalisers!

Let’s have a look at what is on the menu for Round 2!

melbourne victory vs western sydney – friday night

Friday night sees Melbourne Victory take on the Wanderers for the Rashid Mahazi Cup, a prize which nobody wants to win.

In front of over 33,000 fans, Victory played out a dour nil all draw with Melbourne City last Saturday night. The signs were good for Victory when Ola Toivonen slipped a beautiful ball through to Elvis who tucked the ball home beautifully to spark wild celebrations from both Elvis and fans of the navy blue side of town. Enter VAR which ruled Elvis was offside by about the length of a Cadbury favourite. If it wasn’t for the flipping video review, Victory might have pinched the win. So close yet so VAR for Melbourne Victory.

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“Ola, could you spice this game up a bit and actually score please?” – Chris Beath

The highlight of the evening for the Victory was when a few Kurz words were exchanged between Marco Kurz and Patrick Kisnorbo after the match. The new Victory gaffer seemed a little upset at something and absolutely no hesitation in telling Kisnorbo about it.

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And this is the moment where Kisnorbo realised he wasn’t getting a Christmas card from the new Victory boss.

Meanwhile the Wanderers tasted victory on their return to Wanderland. Lead by the Duke of Wanderland, the Wanderers fought off a plucky Central Coast outfit to record a 2-1 win in front of just over 17,000 fans.

The Wanderers went behind after an absolute rocket from Milan Duric but with a faster response time then a Western Sydney divvy van, Wanderers were level thanks to the their captain, The Duke of Wanderland who rose above the Mariners defence and headed the ball down low, Mark Birighitti got his hands to it but to no avail.

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The Duke of Wanderland rising above the peasants

Speaking of hands, VAR was hard at work again on Saturday afternoon when the Wanderers were awarded a penalty for a handball in the box. The Duke stepped up and converted the spot kick to give Wanderers the lead and the red and black fans their first win at the new Bankwest Stadium.

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Hey, this isn’t Brunswick or Fitzroy!

Victory fans will be hoping their side can improve on last weeks performance while fans of the Red and Black will hope to continue their winning ways. This will be a 1-1 draw with Markus Babbel wearing something so outrageous that he would stand out even in Brunswick!

Western united v perth glory – Saturday evening

What a start for the new kids! Western United got off to the Bes possible start with a win against their feeder club, I mean, Wellington Phoenix.

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Western United’s all time leading goal scorer – Besart Berisha

Western United looked good in their first A-League outing with Diamanti and Jertic looking like fantastic pick ups for the new outfit along with a re-invented Connor Pain, who actually looked like an A-League player.

This Saturday they return to their spiritual home in Geelong to play their first home game at Party Drug Stadium. My apologies, it’s GMHBA Stadium, not GHB Stadium. In an interesting fact, Besart Berisha is the leading goalscorer at GMHBA Stadium in the five games that have been played there.

Perth could be forgiven for thinking that this was going to be a Western derby but instead have to travel to Geelong. The last time they travelled to Geelong was in 2015 and I bet in Geelong it still feels like 2015.

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Diego Castro is aiming to lift Perth, much like his leg, to new heights this season

The Glory were pipped at the post thanks to a combination of Roy O’Donovan and VAR. While dominating for large parts of the first half, they weren’t able to score a second and bury Brisbane and that ultimately cost them.

The Holy Trinity (Castro, Ikonomidis and Fornaroli) look to be one of the league’s most lethal attacks and could cause many problems for sides this season. Perth overall looked good as they aim to get back to that Juande in May!

Both sides will cancel each other out under the bright lights of Geelong. 2-2 draw with Diamanti scoring his first A-League goal.

Central Coast v Newcastle Jets – Saturday night

The first F3 Derby of the season or as I like to call, the middle child of Australian soccer derbies. It is often overlooked in favour of the bigger derbies but make no mistake, this event is the biggest thing to happen in Gosford since, well, since Usain visited the Coles there!

Last Saturday we saw a touch of Milan come to the Central Coast when new signing from Serbia Milan Duric launch a rocket that NASA would be proud of past Daniel Lopar in the Mariners 2-1 loss to Western Sydney.

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That “I’m out of Gosford for the weekend” feeling!

Unfortunately for the Mariners, they let the Wanderers back into the game quicker than you can say Giancarlo Gallifuoco and then their afternoon went from bad to worse when the ball struck the hand of Dylan Fox and that pesky VAR picked it up. I could hear Dylan asking the ref “How’s the Fox is that a penalty?”

Newcastle on the other hand had a bit of an easier game in Round 1. They managed to defeat the bye.

Newcastle said goodbye to a few big names from last season with Roy O’Donovan, Daniel Georgievski, Jair and Nick Cowburn all being released by the club and being replaced by Nick Fitzgerald and Matt Millar. They also signed some bloke called Wes Hooligan. My fiancee is saying it’s spelt Hoolahan. However it’s pronounced or spelt, he looked good in preseason and then went and injured his ankle. Surgery was required and he won’t be seen until at least next year. Newcastle are saying it’s their 2020 vision.

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The irony of the player that was going to carry Newcastle this season being carried off.

In a recent FFA Cup semi-final, Newcastle ambushed their rivals by unfurling a banner advertising that Newcastle was a class above Central Coast. This is true if you look at last season’s table and I expect the same again this season. Newcastle, despite the Mariners getting Matt Simon back, will walk away from this game with a 3-0 win with Matt Simon to get at least a yellow on his return.

Melbourne City vs Adelaide United – Sunday afternoon

This match is basically a warm-up for next week’s FFA Cup final, in a place that Lucy Zelic accurately describes as a shithole. Adelaide has a love-hate relationship with the VAR after seeing a penalty given against them for handball in the box and two decisions that went their way including overturning a Sydney goal. The Adelaide defence was under immense strain for the last half hour of the match after Ryan Strain got sent off after being adjudged to have denied Adam Le Fondre of a goal scoring opportunity.

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Listen here Adam, Adelaide is not a shithole!

There were plenty of positives for Adelaide however and seem to have found a gem brighter than a Coober Pedy opal in Al Hassan Toure. The 19 year old took his chance well and placed his shot into the bottom corner and then had the agonising wait while VAR checked to see if he was onside, if his car was roadworthy, then check his blood pressure and finally after what felt like 3 days the goal was confirmed and the youngster could celebrate.

Like the other side of town, Melbourne City seemed quite happy to play out a nil all draw in the first Melbourne derby of the season. The lighter blue side of Melbourne had some quality moments last Saturday night even before the game started with some City players managing to put the ball into Southern Cross Station during goal shooting practice. The lack of shooting ability was evident when Lachlan Wales got on to a Brillante ball and pushed it wide of the far post.

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Can I please have Jamie McLaren back?!

The VAR ruling out Elvis Kamsoba’s effort was like a defibrillator to the heart of Melbourne City. All of a sudden they were attacking and forcing the Victory defence to work and make some crucial stops. If they had Bruno Fornaroli Golgol Mebrahtu Jamie McLaren I feel the story line would be much different but they get him back from International Duty this week.

This is a hard one to predict but I think Adelaide will get the points this week with a 2-1 win over Melbourne City in front of 3,000 fans at AAMI Park.

Sydney fc vs wellington phoenix – Sunday evening

To round out the weekend we have Sydney FC taking on the lads from across the ditch. The defending champions got a-head late in the match thanks to Ryan McGowan. The Sky Blues looked in control against Adelaide and as much as it pains me to say this, they did deserve to win. They were the better side all night and had the better opportunities throughout the game.

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Ah the old teapot pass!

Hopefully the weather for Sunday’s match doesn’t involve much wind as Adam Le Fondre could really struggle to stay on his feet especially if the below footage is anything to go by. He feels the contact and collapses quicker than a start-up business. My opinion is that a free kick should have been awarded but this is not a red card.

Wellington on the other got a Rudan awakening in their first game of the season with the old boss and three first team players at Western United getting the points and nicking off home.

The Nix had had most of the possession but couldn’t do anything with it only mustering one shot on target for the entire ninety minutes. Gary Hooper will hopefully give them a bit more of an edge. A killer instinct is what is need, an attitude of Ufuk with one of us, Ufuk with all of us!

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If you can score some goals then we have a deal Mr. Hooper.

And for those who thought that the Nix fans were booing Rudan, Kurto, Durante and Burgess I regret to inform you that that was not actually the case. The fans were frustrated with a lack of attacking options and we shouting Boo-urns

Celtic, Norwich City, Sheffield Wednesday and Wellington Phoenix, what do they all have in common? Gary Hooper. The 31 year old, who in 2012 was voted Scunthorpe’s greatest ever player has joined Wellington in is a big coup for the competition’s only NZ based club. Hooper has played Premier League, UEFA Champions League, Europa League and Scottish Premier League and in 2013 became the first and only player to score goals in the Premier League, Championship, League One, League Two, FA Cup, League Cup, Football League Trophy, FA Trophy, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Scottish Cup, Scottish League Cup and the Scottish Premier League.

He will bring class and experience to Wellington and give them some real firepower up front while wearing the number 88.


Sydney will be too strong across the board for the Nix on Sunday night and will start the season with wins on the board, Sydney to win 3-1 with Hooper to get a goal on debut.