Monday, January 15, 2007

A-League: Helter Skelter - the battle for the top 4

One round to go and three teams are still vying for one spot. The focus is on Newcastle v Melbourne. Melbourne wins and its Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Queensland Roar with only the order to be decided. The order will determine who plays off for the home ground final.

Perth 3 - Newcastle 3

Newcastle scored in some wide-open spaces very early. And it looked like Newcastle were going to walk this one in. Perth coach and sometimes Socceroo assistant Ron Smith reconed he could have scored it. Then Jade North conceded his third hand-ball penalty this season and the teams went to the brake at 1-1.

Newcastle tired badly in the second half and played a defensive game. Not something we are used to seeing from a team that has at least matched results with Melbourne in the 2nd half of the season. Eventually, Perth put on two goals in quick succession and almost had a third. Then in the last two minutes of a four minute injury time, Newcastle - who had been looking badly beaten - sprung to life and it was Perth who looked done. Joel Griffiths scored twice in two minutes.

This draw means that if Newcastle beats Melbourne, the loser of Queensland v Sydney comes 5th. If Newcastle draws, by Friday three teams will have 28 points with Newcastle and Queensland on equal goal difference. Queensland must then draw with Sydney to gain a point and knock Newcastle out. If Roar lose their goal difference goes behind Newcastle and their out.

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