The False Nine Awards – Week 21
In all five games this weekend, it took two goals for the winning sides to come out on top, with the Wanderers, Roar, Glory, Sky Blues and Jets all scoring victories this week. And now that it’s the Monday after, it’s time for our weekly False Nine Awards with video highlights. This week, our awards are all about giant killers, stunners, howlers and regrets. So, let’s get started with one of our regulars…
1. “The ‘Stunner of the week’ award”
Tomi Juric’s first-touch finish into the top corner on a breakaway move was a sight to behold for the A-League debutant, but our Stunner this week comes from Friday night’s Newcastle vs Melbourne Heart match. A ball over the top of the Heart defence fell to Ryan Griffiths, who brought it down superbly and followed up with a perfectly timed yet audacious chip over Andrew Redmayne to seal the three points for Newcastle. Superb!
2. “The ‘Giant killers’ award”
A couple of nominations for our ‘Giant Killers’ award. Firstly, to Michael Theo on his attempt to kill teammate Ivan Franjic in their mid-week Asian Champions League fixture in Thailand – thankfully for both parties, Franjic only suffered concussion and should be back for week 22. Secondly, to the Western Sydney Wanderers for being the first non-Melbourne team to beat the Victory at home this season, further solidifying their spot in the top 2. But, for pure giant killing ability, we take our hats off to the Perth Glory (10th on the table), who saw off an unusually flat Central Coast Mariners (1st on the table) 2-1, in one of the upsets of the season.
3. “The ‘Regrets, I’ve got a few’ award”
In hindsight, the other A-League clubs may regret allowing the special dispensation for Western Sydney to have six foreign players in their ranks, given that the Wanderers now sit just 1 point off top spot and have won the last 6 games on the trot. But it’s their cross-town rivals who will have the biggest regret, and that is that they didn’t appoint Frank Farina before the start of the season. After their 5th straight home victory (a club record), the Ian Crook days have been put in the rear view mirror, with Farina’s time at the club seeing them climb into 5th position off the back of 6 wins and 3 draws from 13 games. Add Joel Griffiths and Lucas Neill back into the side that beat Adelaide on the weekend, and you’ve got one formidable looking line-up heading into the A-League finals.
4. “The ‘How easy is this’ award”
Shoutouts to Connor Pain, who scored a cracking first goal in just his 3rd game for the Victory this weekend, and to Tomi Juric, who took just 2 minutes after coming off the bench to score his maiden A-League goal – with his first touch, if you don’t mind! But it’s Perth Glory coach Alistair Edwards who must be pinching himself this morning. Sitting dead, motherless last coming into week 21, and with a date against the unstoppable Mariners, Edwards must have been wondering what he was seeing on Saturday night, as a more composed and disciplined Glory outfit knocked off the ladder leaders 2-1.
5. “The ‘Howler of the week’ award”
A dishonourable mention to Andrew Redmayne, who would probably be the first to admit that his effort to save Emile Heskey’s 10th minute strike was anything but his best attempt. But Wellington’s Tyler Boyd, who up until late in the game was one of the Phoenix’s best, has to take the cake this week. Just 2 metres out from goal, and with the net at his mercy, Boyd inexplicably headed the ball wide when it was quite simply ‘easier to score’. An absolute howler in anyone’s book.
6. “The ‘Credit where it’s due’ award”
Some credit is most certainly due to the linesman on the far touchline for the Brisbane vs Wellington game on Sunday, who correctly ruled out Corey Gameiro’s opening goal for Wellington, after the new signing had pulled Jade North down in the lead up to the goal. As much as we like to lambast our referees when they do a poor job, we also like to give them props when they make such a spot on decision. But the most credit has to go to Brisbane striker Besart Berisha. He may be a polarising figure in the A-League, but his 12th goal of the season on Sunday shows that even when he’s not having a great season, he is still a constant danger in front of goal and probably the most valuable player in Mike Mulvey’s team.
7. “The ‘Sore necks’ award”
As if the pressure wasn’t already high at the Cake Tin, Wellington’s loss in Brisbane sees them slump to the foot of the table, and a full 6 points plus goal difference outside the finals qualification spots. With the signing of Carlos Hernandez for the 2013/14 season mid-week, perhaps we’re not the only one’s who think the Phoenix’s 2012/13 season is done and dusted. Now, it’s just a case of whether Ricki Herbert will still be there come October.
8. “The ‘Scraptastic’ award”
Both Western Sydney’s Iacopo La Rocca and Sydney’s Blake Powell scored scrappy goals for their respective teams this weekend, but in the context of both games, those goals were essential in both Sydney teams racking up a handy 3 points with 2-1 wins over top 4 sides. As they always say, it doesn’t matter how they go in…
9. “The ‘Talking point’ award”
Congratulations to both sets of fans from Saturday night’s Victory vs Wanderers fixture, who created a derby-like atmosphere for what was a scintillating contest between two finals-bound teams. But, there is a much bigger talking point out of this weekend – surfaces. The NRL is back in season, and unfortunately for many A-League clubs that means the surfaces at shared grounds like Allianz Stadium and Suncorp Stadium are going to get worse. For Sunday’s Roar vs Phoenix match, the surface at Suncorp already looked like a Par 3 tee box at a public golf course, so here’s hoping the groundstaff there, and at other shared grounds, can sort it out.
Well, that wraps up week 21 of the “False Nine Awards”. Suggest your own categories and winners in the comments below, or send them to us on Twitter at @ultimatealeague.