05/12/2023

Former Sydney FC champion Milos Ninkovic helped guide the Western Sydney Wanderers to a 1-0 victory against his old club. (Photo: @wswanderersfc - Twitter))

From Maclaren magic to amazing atmospheres to courageous comebacks, The Inner Sanctum takes you through the good and the bad of round six of the A-League Men.

Adelaide United vs Melbourne Victory

Good: Three on the trot for the Reds

After two draws from the opening three games on the road, three games at home have seen Adelaide return to form, rattling off a third straight victory in the first Original Rivalry of the season.

It was a fitting send-off for Craig Goodwin as he once again showed why Graham Arnold selected him for the World Cup.

Bad: The up-and-down season for the Victory continues

After finding an apparent return to form against the Newcastle Jets, Melbourne Victory struggled on the trip to Adelaide in what can only be disappointing for Tony Popovicโ€™s side.

A 2-1-3 record greets Melbourne going into the World Cup break, and Popovic has a lot of work to do to inspire his side back to form when play resumes in December as it will travel to Campbelltown first up.

Newcastle Jets vs Melbourne City

Good: Maclaren does it again

Jamie Maclaren can not stop scoring, and that is good news for the Socceroos as he will be heavily relied on for the national team at the World Cup if Australia is to get a win.

For City, it heads into the World Cup break undefeated with five wins and one draw, and Patrick Kisnorbo will be delighted with how his side is performing as the rest of the league tries to work out how on earth City can be stopped when the league resumes in a few weeks.

Bad: How does Arthur Papas fix things in Newcastle

After two straight wins to start the season, it has been three straight defeats for the Jets and they have not looked good in any of them.

The talent is there within the line-up to be performing far better, and Jets’ fans would have far higher expectations than what is showing up on the pitch each week.

The World Cup break might have come at the right time for Newcastle, who need to revitalise things, or else it could be a very long season for the Novocastrians.

Sydney FC vs Western Sydney Wanderers

Good: What an atmosphere

It felt like Sydney Derbies of old on Saturday night as the Wanderers claimed a 1-0 victory at Sydney Football Stadium. The football on the pitch left a bit to be desired as it was not the best of games, but the atmosphere and storylines more than made up for it.

The Derby showed what football can look like at its best in this country, and the league needs to find a way to harness that energy long-term to bring all these fans back to the game week in and week out.

Bad: Does Corica need to go?

Sydney FCโ€™s Plan A this season has been to get the ball out wide to Rรณbert Mak and Joe Lolley and cross it into the middle.

When that does not work, Plan B has been to do Plan A better, and it has only worked against Western United (11th) and Macarthur (Fourth), neither of whom are anywhere near the top of the table at the World Cup break.

A change in formation from 4-2-2-2 to 4-3-3 and a return to Moore Park has not been enough to revitalise the Sky Blues who are winless at home (one draw, two losses).

The pressure is on Steve Corica to turn it around, or else he could find himself out of a job before the season is done.

Wellington Phoenix vs Western United

Good: Western United finally pick up a win

It took until round six, but the defending champions have finally notched a win in season 2022/23 – the last team to do so, leaving it late into stoppage time to complete the comeback.

For Aloisiโ€™s side, it was a much-needed victory as they have looked horrendous for a large chunk of the season so far.

This has been highlighted by the poor form of Leo Lacroix, who was significantly better in the back line against Wellington.

This win could turn things around for Western United, who head out west to face the Glory on the other side of the World Cup break.

Bad: Wasteful Wellington blow the lead

It could have been points in three straight games for Wellington and it looked like it would be, with the home side taking a 2-0 lead before conceding three goals in the second half.

The result caps off a disappointing opening to the season for the Nix, who would have been expecting a better opening six weeks with more than one win, which only came last week against Macarthur.

A trip back to Wollongong awaits Ufuk Talayโ€™s side to restart the campaign in December, and theyโ€™ll want to cap it off with their second win of the season.

Central Coast Mariners vs Macarthur FC

Good: Garang Kuol

That is it. That is the good.

Bad: Macarthur struggle against 10

Despite being up a player from the 30th minute, once the substitutions came from the Mariners, the hosts absolutely dominated the match and Macarthur barely escaped Gosford with the three points it looked like it had locked up in the first 50 minutes of this game.

If Jed Drew had not scored with mere seconds remaining, the game would have ended in a draw and Macarthur would have been left to rue two dropped points.

There might be some concerns for Dwight Yorke to address during the World Cup break, but as he said in the aftermath of the game against Adelaide in round two โ€œYouโ€™ve got to ride your luck and maybe itโ€™s our lucky time at the moment.โ€

Luck got Macarthur out of Gosford with three points, but just how far can luck take Yorkeโ€™s side?

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