Team of the week: Week 20
Week 20 of the A-League gave us some first-time goal scorers, some first-minute goals and some first-rate action on the park. Melbourne Heart scraped by a plucky Gold Coast to keep their top 6 position in tact, Brisbane overcame a fast finishing Victory at Suncorp, Central Coast showed their strength in a comfortable win over the Phoenix, Perth continued their strong home form with a win over the Jets, and Sydney’s youngsters proved the difference against Adelaide on Sunday night. But, out of all those games, which individuals did enough, and stood out enough, to ensure themselves a place in the week 20 Team of the Week:
Goalkeeper – Ivan Necevski (Sydney FC)
Necevski made countless saves off Barbiero, van Dijk, Vidosic, Caravella and Ramsay in the second half at Hindmarsh in what was his finest performance thus far this season. Sydney have Necevski to thank for walking away with all three points, as he kept the relentless Reds attacks at bay, and booked himself the starting gig in the TOTW.
Defence – Josh Rose (Central Coast Mariners), Michael Beauchamp (Sydney FC), Patrick Zwaanswijk (Central Coast Mariners), Craig Goodwin (Melbourne Heart)
On the right hand side of defence is the Mariners’ Josh Rose. Rose seems to be working well with youngster Tom Rogic since his inclusion in the side, with Rose able to push forward with confidence and get into the box. He was unlucky not to have a few assists in the first half due to a combination of good goalkeeping and poor finishing. Our centre halves this week are Michael Beauchamp and Patrick Zwaanswijk. It was another good game by the Sydney centre half, mopping up the plethora of long balls that were the source of supply for van Dijk for two thirds of the game and, along with Necevski, ensuring the Sky Blues left Hindmarsh with all 3 points. Zwaanswijk, on the other hand, put in his usually solid game, securing the points with another headed goal from a set piece. Rounding out the back four is Heart starlet Craig Goodwin. Not as good as he was on his debut, but Goodwin’s second half in particular was impressive. He began to run riot down the left wing against a tiring Gold Coast defence, making some crucial interceptions and tackles and putting some fantastic crossed balls into the box.
Midfield – Fred (Melbourne Heart), Rostyn Griffiths (Central Coast Mariners), Adam Hughes (Perth Glory), Tomas Rogic (Central Coast Mariners)
Our midfield this week begins with Fred. Oh, how the Heart have missed their captain. He took control against an inexperienced Gold Coast side, fulfilling the dominating playmaker role in the first half, and delivered the killer ball for the assist for Babalj to score the winner. For Rostyn Griffiths, you may as well call him the new Paartalu, as he sat in front of his defence and played the main connection point between the back and forward halves superbly. A super game by the Mariners’ midfielder, managing to keep Wellington completely under control. Perth’s Adam Hughes scored one, had an thunderbolt saved onto the crossbar, another thunderbolt off the upright, and generally took his chance well thanks to Liam Miller’s early injury. His goal netted him the A-League record for the earliest goal scored by a substitute (15th minute), beating the previous best of the 21st minute by Chris Payne for Sydney FC. Sitting in behind the strikers this week is Tom Rogic. It was another wonderful game by the youngster, as his pressure was unrelenting, he used his Futsal skills well in and around the box, and scored a well finished goal in the top corner past Mark Paston.
Forwards – Harry Kewell (Melbourne Victory), Besart Berisha (Brisbane Roar)
Up front, it’s the pairing of Kewell and Berisha. Harry Kewell was constantly threatening with the ball, and equally without the ball. Two goals and a handful of chances came from Kewell’s pressure on Paartalu and the Roar back 4, as he orchestrated a much improved second half from the Victory. His opponent in that match, Besart Berisha, is the other striker in our TOTW this week. Berisha is purely and simply clinical, as he slotted home after just 40 seconds, and scored another goal on the half hour mark. Berisha’s work off the ball is just as brilliant as his work on it, with his effort and ability to shut down avenues for the opposition defence being second to none.
Bench – Justin Pasfield (Central Coast Mariners), Bas van den Brink (Perth Glory), Mitch Nichols (Brisbane Roar), Billy Mehmet (Perth Glory)
In the backup keeper role this week is Justin Pasfield. It was a much better performance this week from the Central Coast reserve gloveman, making a series of great saves in the second half. He controlled his box well, and was fantastic in the air. Bas van den Brink nets the next spot on the subs bench, as he was back to his solid, solid best down back for the Glory, managing to keep a Newcastle team scoreless that had been scoring for fun the last few weeks. It’s not surprising the other A-League teams aren’t happy Mitch Nichols is back early from Olyroo duty, as he put in a fantastic 90 minute performance. Nichols really stepped it up a notch once Broich went off, and put the ball on a platter for Fitzgerald and Berisha time and again. Our last spot on the bench goes to Perth’s Billy Mehmet for who, like Berisha, the contract extension has done the trick. Mehmet was relentless in his efforts, and was duly rewarded with a beautiful headed goal to give his side a two goal buffer. Honourable mentions this week to Henrique, Mark Paston and Josh Risdon, who all had superb games but were pipped for spots.
Manager – Graham Arnold (Central Coast Mariners)
It seems despite missing Mathew Ryan and Mustafa Amini, the Mariners are still able to play some of the best football they have all year – a testament to the depth of the squad Graham Arnold has at his disposal. The premiership is theirs to lose for the last 5 games, but if they play anywhere near how they played against the Phoenix on Saturday, that simply isn’t going to happen.
Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know who you thought deserved to make the ‘team of the week’ this week. Note: The midweek Central Coast v Gold Coast game will be taken into calculations for the week 21 Team of the Week.