Breanna Holden's Round 3 preview

by Breanna Holden on Oct 23, 2015

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Newcastle Jets FC v Melbourne Victory FC
Friday 23, October
Kick-off: 7:40pm AEDT

The Jets performances may have them feeling sky high, but a meeting against Melbourne could bring them crashing back to earth quickly. Although the clash may not be all it seems, with last year’s wooden spooners proving the reigning Champions Achilles heel more times than the visitors will care to remember.

Newcastle gave Sydney a run for their money last round, despite losing their first choice keeper, showing they aren’t the easy-beats they were last campaign. While Melbourne Victory may seem a daunting task the Jets record shows they’re not put off by the challenge of Kevin Muscat’s men; unbeaten in their last seven at Hunter Stadium and nabbing a draw in the low of last campaign. If the Jets are to continue this form against Melbourne it will be crucial they don’t become overwhelmed by the side, particularly in the opening phase of the match. If they can stay firm in defence and match Victory for large parts of the game they could replicate the performance of Adelaide in the opening round.

While Newcastle may feel comforted by their home performances against Melbourne, Muscat’s side travel to NSW without a loss in their last nine on the road and in search of a new club record. With their front men back to firing home goals following last week’s derby it’s hard to deny the side are already hitting their groove. But before the visitors get too carried away Muscat will be concerned about the lapse late in the second half that saw City claw back into the match. If Victory are to reach last season’s heights there is no room for switching off, especially with a largely unchanged side meaning opposition teams will have an easier time planning how to break them down.

My Tip: Melbourne Victory
Newcastle have troubled stronger sides this season, and given their new confident approach to games, will do the same this Friday. But following Victory’s fine start and impressive comeback against City, it would be hard to see Melbourne failing to overcome the home side’s exuberance and leaving without a share of the points, if not all three.

Wellington Phoenix FC v Brisbane Roar FC
Saturday 24, October
Kick-off: 5:15pm AEDT

League leaders Brisbane Roar face their hardest task yet as they head across the ditch to meet Wellington Phoenix. The Nix have built a fortress in New Zealand in seasons past, but have failed to assert their dominance over the Roar; will it be another cold night for the Yellow fever or will Wellington prove they’re contenders this season?

Wellington overcame some of their scoring woes on the road to Perth last round, with Vince Lia the unlikely hero, popping up to bag the winner just minutes from time. However, with Perth struggling for most of the encounter the match looked to be headed the same way as their round one clash, with the Nix dominating play but simply unable to find the back of the net. Against a Roar outfit that have conceded just two goals this season Wellington’s attack will be given a much tougher test this weekend. Although they might just suit up the better against Brisbane’s second choice keeper; if the Kiwi’s forwards don’t step up and finish their chances the Nix will be facing their 16th loss to Brisbane, and their second home loss already this season.

Another key battle at Westpac Stadium will be the midfield dominance; although Wellington have based their solid performances so far on the strength of keeping possession, they might meet their match this Saturday. Not only are Brisbane renowned for their possession based play, but the visitors are excellent at breaking down their opponents’ hold of the ball and momentum, recording the highest tackle count in the league so far, while the Nix have the least. If Brisbane can capitalise on this they will neutralize the home side’s biggest asset and look on track for three points, if not they could see stand-in keeper Jamie Young put through his paces for much of the 90 minutes.

My Tip: Draw
This will no doubt be an interesting encounter, particularly in sorting out early finals contenders. Although the blow of losing Michael Theo is lessened by Young’s decent showing throughout last year; against a hungry, aggressive Wellington, the loss of the veteran could prove vital. If the Nix can continue the momentum of last week’s win they can’t be counted out of this one, especially on home turf.


Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers FC
Saturday 24, October
Kick-Off: 7:30pm AEDT

Etihad Stadium got temperatures rising last round, but things could reach boiling point on Saturday night as Sydney takes centre stage for the first derby of the season. Will Sydney FC continue last season’s derby dominance, or will the Wanderers’ first win of the season come on enemy territory?

Sydney picked up their first win of the season last week, overcoming a solid display from Newcastle to go a record 16 away matches without a defeat. Although the win was deserved, the Sky Blues rued a lot of decent chances, showing the same weakness that saw them struggle to finish the job againstMelbourne City. Coming up against their local rivals this weekend Sydney’s front line is given a huge boost by the return of Filip Holosko and Andrew Hoole, who add experience and energy to the attack. While Sydney fans will be hoping Graham Arnold’s attention has been directed at adding finesse to his side’s attack, the Sky Blues will also need to have focused heavily on tightening up their midfield particular with Romeo Castelen and Andreu out to trouble them this Saturday. If Sydney can maintain their shape and slick passing they’ll be able to contain two of the Wanderers’ most threatening outlets and look to pick up a fourth win in five derbies.

In recent history the Sydney derby has proven a high scoring encounter which could spell trouble for Wanderers coach Tony Popovic. Not only have the side struggled to capitalise up front so far, Western Sydney’s recent record on the road isn’t one to be envied, picking up just one win in 15 and shipping 27 goals in the process. With a number of key forwards still out the Wanderers continue to search for answers up front, however the side will be hotly anticipating the addition of central defender Alberto, after round two saw another strong performance blighted by defensive errors in the form of an own goal. Although one player won’t be the answer to all of Popovic’s problems, an underperforming defence is central to the side’s slow start this season and if not sorted the constant positive work of Mitch Nichols, Dario Vidosic and Romeo Castelen will be rendered useless once again.

My Tip: Sydney FC
The Wanderers are showing signs of improvement but the team is a work in progress and given the nature of a derby they will either step up or simply crumble under the pressure. Although Sydney haven’t found a bounty of goals at home, their experienced midfield will likely put constant pressure on Western Sydney’s frail defence, and see the Sky Blues draw first blood.


Melbourne City FC v Central Coast Mariners FC
Sunday 25, October
Kick-Off: 5:00pm AEDT

Melbourne have shown sparks this season, but are yet to truly take off. At home for the first time this campaign, and with injured players returning, will City’s stars align? Or will the Central Coast’s new approach prove too tough a task?

Travelling back from a disappointing Cup semi-final in Perth, Melbourne City will head into their first home game on the back of two straight defeats. Although the past three performances from City haven’t lived up to the expectations of pre-season, John van ‘t Schip will be welcoming back three players this weekend—Corey Gamiero, David Williams and Ben Garuccio; not only lightening the load of the injury stricken side, but adding a needed spark up front. While the return of players may improve the side’s potency in attack, it’s the depth van ‘t Schip will welcome most warmly, with the side likely to be tired after a mid-week trip to Perth. Given the intensity in which the Mariners have played so far this season, Melbourne may find themselves running low on gas quicker than expected – something that could just cost them the game.

While City may line-up a little fragile, Central Coast travel down south with history firmly on their side; having lost to Melbourne just once since the club’s foundation. Key to maintaining that record will be Fabio Ferreira who, since joining the Mariners from Adelaide, has provided the side with an air of confidence and creativity. Additionally the inclusion of Eddy Bosnar and Josh Rose will provide Tony Walmsley with more stability at the back, particularly with first choice keeper Liam Reddy disciplinary reasons. Although his absence will make things harder for Central Coast if the side can make the most of City’s mid-week trip across the country and continue to employ their high energy style Reddy’s absence may go un-noticed.

My tip: Melbourne City
Mariners have proved they’re not to be overlooked, defeating Perth and pushing Brisbane Roar throughout parts of the game. However, after City’s comeback last weekend they’ve shown the grit necessary to overcome opposition intensity and given the return of first choice players it is hard to write them off this Sunday


Perth Glory FC v Adelaide United FC
Sunday 25, October
Kick-off: 7:00pm AEDT

Nailed to the bottom of the table without a point, Perth invite Adelaide United to nib Stadium in a battle between two sides in search of a win. Will Kenny Lowe relieve the pressure in Western Australia and see glory returned to his side, or can the Reds run-away with the points?

Perth’s start to the season has been difficult to say the least, although having moments of quality the side lack cohesion and a flare to their game. Kenny Lowe’s side will have some confidence restored following their 3-1 win over Melbourne City in the FFA Cup semi-final, but will be aware there is a lot more work to do if they’re to achieve success outside of Cup form this campaign. That clash not only saw fluidity in front of goal, but importantly the return of their #10 Nebojsa Marinkovic, who not only added a spark for Glory but also has a history of scoring against the Reds. If Marinkovic can help inspire more goals for the home side Perth’s biggest issue this weekend will be in the middle of the park where Adelaide have asserted enough power to ensure two points from consecutively uninspiring outings.

While returning to the Cup final sees the Glory in a familiar place, the same can’t be said of Adelaide, who simply aren’t the same side that 12 months ago defeated the West Australians in the exact same clash. After two frustrating draws to open their season the Reds head to Perth with a slight change in fortune, at least on paper, as Bruce Djite returns to the squad in search of their first official goal this campaign. While a great addition to a side in desperate need of goals, Djite does have issues with consistency and can’t be seen as a goal scoring savior in the long term. However, in spite of their issues throughout the past fortnight, Adelaide will be comforted by their solid scoring form on the road, where they’ve only failed to find the net once in 13 games. If they can embrace successful history outside of South Australia and continue their successful passing game the side could just overcome the Glory for just their third win from the last 11 clashes at nib Stadium.

My Tip: Perth Glory
Absence of any obvious striker for both sides is a massive issue, however, without a single goal scored by an Adelaide player this season it is hard to see them bagging the first on the road in Perth, particularly if Djite starts on the bench. And while the Glory haven’t been convincing upfront they’ve at least proven an ability to capitalise on chances; giving them a clear upper hand.