28/02/2024

A packed stadium greeted the players for the Melbourne Derby. (Photo Credit: A-League Men/Twitter)

It has been a crazy week in the A-League Men competition, with the third round providing plenty of entertainment.

From crowd numbers at both ends of the spectrum to controversial referee decisions to disappointing performances, The Inner Sanctum is here to take you through the good and the bad.

Western United vs Macarthur FC

Good: It was an exciting game of football

With plenty of shots, some cracking goals, and a lot of end-to-end football which could have seen either side claim victory, the performance on the park was fantastic to watch as a neutral.

Unfortunately,

Bad: No one turned up to watch it

The crowd troubles continued for Western United and while the ongoing weather in Melbourne could again be used as an excuse this week, almost 24,000 turned up the next night to watch the Melbourne Derby.

It is an unfortunate sight when it seems like there were more seagulls in attendance than paid fans, which would not have been helped by the Friday night timeslot against Macarthur.

Depending on how long it will be before their stadium is built, Western United’s ownership group and/or the APL might have to look at investing in upgrades for appropriately sized stadia in Melbourne so that the crowd (or lack of) does not look as bad.

Newcastle Jets vs Wellington Phoenix

Good: Box-Office Jets make it two on the trot

For the first time in the A-League Men competition, the Newcastle Jets have won their opening two games to start the season.

The side looked very entertaining under Arthur Papas last season and has continued that form into the 2022/23 season, and are already 25 per cent of the way to equaling their win total from last season.

The absence of Beka Mikeltadze and Jordan Elsey did not hinder the Jets as they took out a 3-1 victory over the Wellington Phoenix.

Bad: Sluggish start to the season continues for Wellington

Whilst Ufuk Talay’s side has looked incredibly good at times through its opening to the season, Wellington is yet to have a victory to show for it, with two draws and a loss, giving up leads in both of the draws.

For The Nix, things will not get easier as they try to put together a complete 90-minute performance, as they head to Melbourne to face an undefeated City side looking to extend their early season lead at the top.

Western Sydney Wanderers vs Brisbane Roar

Good: The tribute to Masato Kubo

With former Brisbane Roar player Masato Kubo passing away late last week at just 32 years old, it was only fitting that the side would pay tribute to Kubo after Charlie Austin scored the Roar’s first goal of the season.

Brisbane Roar pays tribute to Masato Kudo after scoring against the Wanderers. (Photo Credit: Brisbane Roar/Twitter)

Bad: Does no one know the laws of the game anymore?

Brisbane had two goals ruled out during this game as the side looked to build momentum after a slow start to the season, but it was the second of these which left most people confused.

Jay O’Shea struck a beautiful free kick into the back of the net which was ruled out immediately by the referee, with Brisbane players, coaching staff, commentators, and viewers alike confused as to why.

When a defensive team has three or more players in a wall, players from the attacking team cannot come within one metre of the wall.

It might be nice going forward if the broadcaster could have a rules expert of some description (similar to national broadcasts of American sports) to help explain things like this so that things can be explained to everyone faster and we do not have the commentators questioning things for an extended period of time.

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Melbourne Victory vs Melbourne City

Good: What an atmosphere

Almost 24,000 were in attendance at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium for the first Melbourne Derby of the season, creating an amazing atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.

Bad: Only one side turned up 

After a good opening period of the match, City scored two goals in two minutes to put a stranglehold on the game.

While the Victory did try to mount a comeback, a second yellow card in the 35th minute to captain Josh Brillante stopped any hopes of a comeback as City held on for the remainder of the game to remain undefeated.

Sydney FC vs Adelaide United

Good: It was an afternoon full of entertainment

This game had everything you could have asked for. Goals, controversy, excitement, and drama.

Both sides will feel aggrieved by the 2-2 result as both felt they should have walked away with the three points at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Bad: A poor referee decision changed the outcome of the game

With Adelaide well in control of the game and the lead, Hiroshi Ibusuki was shown a red card in the 40th minute which had everyone perplexed and confused.

While the red card was overturned on appeal and Ibusuki does not have to serve the one-game ban, the damage was done as it changed the outcome of the match and robbed Adelaide of what could have been its first win of the season.

Central Coast Mariners vs Perth Glory

Good: Glory look competitive under Zadkovich

With no Australia Cup action and a massive teardown of the Glory roster, it has taken a while for Perth Glory to find their rhythm and pull off their first victory of the season over the Mariners.

With a trip to Adelaide and a trip to Melbourne to face a high-flying City outfit awaiting the Glory next, Ruben Zadkovich will want to build on this performance to take a lot of momentum into the World Cup break.

Bad: Mariners still without a win

While the Mariners’ first game got postponed against the Newcastle Jets, the side is still without a win, only managing a draw so far this season against the Wellington Phoenix who is also struggling.

With two of their next three at home before the World Cup break and with a couple of players trying to seal a spot on the plane to Qatar, the Mariners can turn their season around if things start clicking.

A game against the winless Western United seems like the perfect opportunity to make that happen.

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