Fox Sports’ Adam Peacock looks back at the good, the great and the ugly from a shortened second round of the A-League.
Watch every match of the 2020/21 A-League Season LIVE & On-Demand with Fox Sports on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
Border closures acting as a boa constrictor on the competition only allowed two games (will there be as many rescheduled games as scheduled games this season?) — though quality moments made up for a lack of quantity.
Tate Russell’s speed of thought and play continues to impress and the ability to line up exactly where he is in reference to Rhyan Grant, the best right back in the land, on Saturday night will be one of many subplots to the Sydney Derby.
The youthful energy which propelled Western Sydney down either flank – Thomas Aquilina the other – last Friday was a big reason why Carl Robinson drove out of Newcastle content for the second time in a few months.
It was odd watching a team beat a team it helps fund, though not as weird as the other way round, which for parts of that second half looked a possibility.
Robinson made a really good substitution on 76 minutes. Young Jet Ramy Najjarine was turning a solid performance from Graham Dorrans into an accident waiting to happen. Dorrans picked up a yellow, and Robinson protected his experienced midfielder by swapping him for Jordan O’Doherty, lessening Najjarine’s impact. It is fantastic to see the widely-touted Najjarine start to show glimpses at this level and like the only kid who can breakdance at a school disco, he has an ability to make others feel completely inferior in a split second.
Wellington are the same Wellington as pre-COVID last season. So damn watchable.
Fluid, good movement, intelligent.
Says a lot for the coaching of Ufuk Talay, who was able to replace a handful of important players with those who could buy in quicker than a high roller with deep pockets. Similar happened last season when Wellington didn’t get everything they felt they deserved from early rounds.
Impressively, Talay held his nerve post game to not unload on a decision we’ll touch on later. Who slipped him the melatonin?!
Another question: Macarthur? Three games in, three different results. Frustrating? Perhaps. Improvement to come? Has to be. The starting 11 on Saturday played in eight different leagues last season.
And yeah this is usually an A League review, but there simply has to be mention of Lisa de Vanna. That third goal in 32 degree heat in Melbourne Victory’s belittling of Melbourne City was yet another reminder of undoubted class, ageless dynamism and how myopic it would be to consider her Matildas career over.
Congratulations Alex Rufer, you can see with your eyes shut. It’s quite the achievement. If possible, can you let us know how?
I’d love to sleep and watch the next romcom forced upon me. Everyone wins.
For those who haven’t seen Rufer’s send off on Saturday, which the player in question also missed live because HIS EYES WERE SHUT in case you’ve sped read to here, it is a classic example of rules and the attachment to a rulebook denying common sense a say in a matter.
It happens time to time. Refs hold the rulebook tight, as they should. I hold Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea tight, but there’s little chance I’m keen on an epic battle with a marlin while perched in a tinny off the continental shelf.
Sure, Rufer made contact. But you need your tastebuds to taste, you need your nose to smell and it’s really, really difficult to intentionally kick someone violently when you’re looking at your eyelids. Fair enough if he had his eyes shut and was trying to punch on as if he was on Cavill Ave at 4am. No, it was barely a tap.
Trouble always fills the seat when common sense leaves the room.
WORDS OF THE WEEKEND
“Mate, think you better have a look at this”, (or similar) — Kris Griffiths-Jones.
Those sweet nothings whispered into the ear of Stephen Lucas brought about the end of Alex Rufer’s afternoon at Campbelltown. Obviously not a direct quote but it would be nice to hear live how the fourth official and ref communicate in such situations.
VAR’s controversial enough without secrets as well. Sadly, won’t happen anytime soon, with FIFA rebuking countless applications around the world, including from Australia, to eavesdrop.