27/05/2024

Macarthur celebrate one of the two goals scored against Adelaide. (Photo: Macarthur FC/Twitter)

The second round of the A-League Men competition had all 12 teams competing for the first time this year and the football we were delivered was nothing short of what we have all come to love.

From (disallowed) bicycle kicks to late drama to controversial squad selection, The Inner Sanctum is here to take you through the good and the bad.

Brisbane Roar vs. Melbourne City

Good: Maclaren brings his shooting boots to Lang Park

Well, kind of. Jamie Maclaren scored a brace, getting a deflection off an Andrew Nabbout wonder-strike and then scoring from the spot 15 minutes later to seal a 2-0 victory in the first half for the visitors over the Brisbane Roar. 

Melbourne City have started off the new campaign playing fantastic football, and look ahead to a Melbourne Derby this week where they will need to keep up that good form.

Bad: The selection choices of Patrick Kisnorbo

The low-hanging fruit here would be to just pile on Brisbane, but Kisnorbo’s decision to continually overlook Marco Tilio, who was only given a minute of game time in this game, is one that is baffling to a lot of people.

Kisnorbo has brushed the criticism aside, saying that he’s the coach of Melbourne City and not the Socceroos. But with a World Cup on the horizon, if he keeps leaving Tilio out he could cost the youngster a spot on the plane to Qatar.

With Tilio still locked in for another season on his contract with City, it is a precarious position for everyone involved should the young winger become unhappy with the direction PK is taking.

Newcastle Jets vs. Perth Glory

Good: A win to start the season for the Novocastrians

After the F3 Derby was washed out last week and rescheduled for late December, the Newcastle Jets got their season off to a win over a struggling Glory side. This was thanks to a goal from Jordan Elsey and a stoppage time winner from Beka Mikeltadze, much to the delight of A-Leagues Fantasy players.

Mikeltadze’s winner might not have been necessary were it not for…

Bad: What on earth was Jordan Elsey thinking?

A yellow card in the 54th minute, a goal in the 59th minute, and a second yellow in the 70th which was changed to a straight red on VAR review which gave Perth a penalty to level the score showed the good and the bad of Elsey.

It was a baffling decision from Elsey to lift his leg up to make the challenge which got him sent off, which will now see him spend two games on the sidelines.

Melbourne Victory vs. Western Sydney Wanderers

Good: The crowd

A spectacular crowd turned up to watch the Victory and the Wanderers, creating an amazing atmosphere (flares aside) in prime time on free to air television, which is one of the best things that can be used to sell the league.

Bad: The football on the pitch

The game itself however was a tough watch, with neither side playing inspiring or entertaining football. 

It was one of those kinds of games where it would take luck on either side to find the three points, which is how the Wanderers walked away victorious.

Tomislav Mrcela’s strike would be rebounded off Paul Izzo’s save and then back off Mrcela into the net for the game’s only goal. 

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Wellington Phoenix vs. Central Coast Mariners

Good: A thrilling game of end-to-end football

This game was chaotic and frantic with chances aplenty at both ends, and both sides having stellar goals ruled out for offside. 

Jason Cummings had a bicycle kick ruled out in the first half, while Ben Waine had a stunning strike ruled out early in the second.

Ironically, both players would go on to score goals that counted by chipping the keeper.

A draw was probably the right result here, as both sides would have felt hard done by walking away with a loss.

Bad: The length of time for VAR decisions

It took three and a half minutes for the VAR to come up with the decision to overrule Jason Cummings’ bicycle kick for offside. 

While they did ultimately come to the right decision, it was pretty clear after the second replay that Cummings was offside, and should not have taken a further two minutes to deliver that verdict.

Macarthur FC vs. Adelaide United

Good: Arzani cements his case for World Cup inclusion

With a goal and an assist, Daniel Arzani ran riot over Adelaide United at Campbelltown Stadium to display exactly why he should be on the plane to Qatar for the World Cup, furthering the selection dilemma that faces Graham Arnold.

While Arzani’s defensive efforts occasionally leave a bit to be desired, when you are scoring and creating attacking opportunities the way he does, it is able to be forgiven.

Bad: Adelaide’s inability to create attack

Despite dominating possession, Adelaide was held scoreless even though it found the back of the net three times.

Falling victim to Macarthur’s high line of defence creating an offside trap (Adelaide was offside six times), the Reds struggled to do much of anything in this game outside of get the ball out wide, cross it in, and hope. 

As has been established in Australian football recently, hope is not a strategy. 

It could be a long season for Carl Veart and the Reds unless the midfield can find ways to create attack, and not be sloppy on defence.

Western United vs. Sydney FC

Good: Everything is sweeter when Lolley is on the board

Sydney’s two new imports Robert Mak and Joe Lolley found the scoresheet from open play, while Adam Le Fondre converted one of two penalties in the Sky Blues’ 3-1 victory over last season’s champions.

While it was not the most inspiring of performances from Steve Corica’s side, it was enough to get the three points and after a narrow loss last week, you would take the win however you can get it.

Bad: The crowd

The poor crowd numbers continue to plague Western United. 

This week it might have been able to be forgiven with the horror weather that has impacted Melbourne with homes and roads being destroyed in terrible floods, had the same venue not had 18,000 turn up the night before for Victory vs. Wanderers.

It is going to be a continued talking point that distracts from the on field performances for Western United, and with no end in sight for their own stadium, it is only going to get worse.

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