Team of the week: Week 21
Week 21 did very little to paint a clear picture as to the make up of the top 6, with Newcastle and Melbourne Heart both recording wins to keep their 5th and 6th spots in tact. Elsewhere, Melbourne Victory faltered against the bottom-placed Gold Coast for a 1-1 draw, Brisbane outclassed Perth Glory 3-0 in WA, Sydney went down 1-0 to a determined Phoenix, and in the midweek game the Mariners and Gold Coast played out a thrilling 3-3 draw. But out of all those games, which individual performances were of enough quality to garner a selection in the week 21 TOTW?
Goalkeeper – Mark Paston (Wellington Phoenix)
Mark Paston wears the gloves this week, after a great early save and a double save all off Cazarine in the first half of the Phoenix’s game against Sydney. Add to that a few saves from shots and corners off the boot of Brett Emerton, and Paston and his defence proved the difference, and ensured Wellington went home with the spoils.
Defence – Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix), Matt Smith (Brisbane Roar), Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Newcastle Jets)
In our 3 man defence this week, we start with Ben Sigmund. It was a resolute and strong performance by the Wellington centre half, keeping the Sky Blues attackers at bay for the full 90 minutes, and on countless occasions making an important, goal-saving challenge. Roar captain Matt Smith put in a great composed performance, playing well out of the back to launch attacks, and galvanizing his defence once they were down to 10 men. His reading of the play and ability to cut out Glory attacking moves was particularly strong. Rounding out our back 3 is the Jets’ towering defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who was very solid, mopping up any of Adelaide’s through balls and passes into the box and keeping the Adelaide forwards to less than a handful of chances over the 90 minutes.
Midfield – Massimo Murdocca (Brisbane Roar), Jacob Pepper (Newcastle Jets), Mitch Nichols (Brisbane Roar), Tomas Rogic (Central Coast Mariners), Carlos Hernandez (Melbourne Victory)
On the right of our five-man midfield is Massimo Murdocca. Murdocca put in a nice assist for Berisha’s first goal, and generally played a great game given he only arrived in Perth hours before kickoff. Newcastle’s Jacob Pepper also made the TOTW this week. This youngster is showing a lot of promise, and since coming into the starting XI for Kasey Wehrman, has picked up his game and is turning into a solid, reliable and controlling midfielder. Brisbane’s Mitch Nichols also had an effective game in Broich’s absence, playing some telling balls up front and looking calm and collected whenever he was on the ball. Over the two games he played this week, Tom Rogic’s super close control, foot skills, and telling passes were all on show, and he was involved in a few of the goal scoring plays against the Gold Coast. Sitting in behind our two strikers is Victory star Carlos Hernandez. Apart from another ‘highlight reel worthy’ goal, Hernandez’s passing was impeccable, his effort was unrelenting and some of his through balls were borderline ridiculous.
Forwards – Francis Jeffers (Newcastle Jets), Besart Berisha (Brisbane Roar)
Up front this week is the foreign duo of the Englishman Jeffers and the Albanian Berisha. Gritty and determined would aptly describe Jeffers’ performance against the Reds, constantly putting his body on the line, winning fouls, sitting well in a more midfield-oriented position, and providing a sublime through ball for Elrich’s well-finished goal. For Berisha, it’s now 17 goals from 22 appearances, after he provided an assist for the Henrique goal, a beautifully finished goal on the turn to put his side up by two, and a well finished second to secure the points. Add to that the amount of tracking back and chasing he did, and it resulted in a fantastic game for the re-signed Roar striker.
Bench – Clint Bolton (Melbourne Heart), Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix), Brett Emerton (Sydney FC), Adam Kwasnik (Central Coast Mariners)
In the reserve keeper spot this week is the Heart’s Clint Bolton, who made a great save off the penalty rebound, a few good saves off Kwasnik and Ibini, and kept a clean sheet. Andrew Durante nabs the defensive sub position, in what was a solid performance by the skipper alongside Ben Sigmund. Sydney’s Brett Emerton put in a classy performance with some superb crosses, ball control, use of strength and through balls to his strikers. Adam Kwasnik earns the last spot on the bench. With two goals and an assist, Kwasnik had his foot and head in everything against the Gold Coast. His second goal took some amount of skill, heading the ball from behind him to power it past Jerrad Tyson. Honourable mentions this week to Kristian Rees, Sayed Mohamed Adnan and Simon Colosimo.
Manager – Ange Postecoglou (Brisbane Roar)
What an impressive performance (sans Broich) it was away in Perth by Ange’s men. Their mid-season slump appears to be over, after putting three past the fourth-placed Glory and looking just as dangerous when they had only 10 men on the field. Postecoglou now seems to have Roar well positioned to make a charge for both the premier’s plate and the champion’s toilet seat.
Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know who you thought deserved to make the ‘team of the week’ this week.