The A League ended 2016 with a bang, and entered the New Year looking much the same. Sydney FC still remain top and undefeated, Adelaide are still bottom, and City are still hated by everyone. The year changes but the world still goes round, let's break down the games over the New Year period.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Once again it's going to be yet another game involving Melbourne City, but this time they were the ones coming from behind this week. Incredible scenes on the Central Coast as the Mariners fell behind courtesy of a trademark Tim Cahill header, yet they worked their way back to put themselves 2-1 up with some quality bits of play. Unfortunately their hard work was undone with Scott Galloway giving away a penalty in the dying minutes of the game.
You could see the look of frustration on the faces of the Mariners at the final whistle. They should take away that they stuck it to one of the competition's leading teams. Great stuff all around.
GOAL OF THE WEEK
A couple of goals this week had very similar elements, one pass and a shot from close range, making it a little hard to pick a winner.
I always love seeing a shot rifled into the back of the net. When it comes with such precision and power, there's nothing short of a miracle that can stop these kinds of shots. We saw one last week with Corey Brown's goal for Brisbane Roar.
This week I'm giving it to Trent Buhagiar of Central Coast. The young striker scored his first goal against Melbourne Victory last round, and got himself a goal against Melbourne City. A great counter attack from the Mariners, a strong run through the middle by Fabio Ferreira finished off by Buhagiar from close range. It was a great goal to see from the Mariners. Despite their current position at 9th, they're only four points off 5th place. Here's hoping their young squad can keep up the good work.
Forward to 1:16 to see the goal
THE UNHERALDED HERO
My usual unheralded tag is a bit unfair in this case, as this hero made headlines for the best reason ever. When Tim Cahill scored against the Central Coast, he ran to the corner flag for his usual boxing celebration.
But wait! The ball boy did what?!
He stole the corner flag to prevent Cahill from doing his celebratory routine, and thus making Cahill look a bit foolish when he was punching thin air. Definitely made me grin at the ridiculous sight.
This little legend will live on in the hearts of A League fans, quite easily one of my favourite highlights for the week.
Okay, I know I'll probably cop flak for this one. Besart Berisha made history this round by overtaking Archie Thompson's all time goal scoring record, but not without dubious circumstances. The penalty awarded to Victory was for handball, but replays show that the ball struck Johnny Koutroumbis on the chest and not the arm. To make matters worse, a penalty was turned down for Newcastle for a similar incident, but the ball did indeed clearly strike Carl Valeri's arm.
Regardless, Besart now sits atop the all time goal scoring charts with 91 goals in 142 games, a feat not easily achieved and twice as hard to replicate.
Another positive point from the week was hearing that Eli Babalj is trialling with Western Sydney Wanderers. The towering striker has had some bad luck of late, getting very little first team action overseas and rupturing his ACL early last year with Adelaide United.
For Babalj, it's crucial that he gets some good game time and fitness. At 24 years of age he can't afford any more bumps along the way if he still holds ambitions to play in Europe again and return to Socceroos action.
The Wanderers are desperate for more options upfront, having cut ties with Kerem Bulut last week and Brendan Santalab serving a suspension. It seems a good option on paper, I feel both parties would benefit but only time will tell.
John van't Schip resigned from his position as manager of Melbourne City, much to the shock of many, including myself. Personal circumstances have arisen with his father's illness back in Holland, he has opted to leave his post to be with his family. I feel for him, it's a sad situation for anyone in football. His legacy won't be forgotten at City, being their first ever coach during their days as the Heart, as well as their longest serving manager in their history. His time at City yielded their first ever trophy with this year's FFA Cup triumph. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.
Western Sydney haven't had much fun lately. Their 1-1 draw with Perth marked their 8th drawn game for the season, with only two wins to show thus far. They're still sitting 6th for the time being, but can't possibly hope to progress much more this season if they continue with drawn results. The Jets, Phoenix and Mariners are all snapping at the heels of the Wanderers' finals spot.
Last but not least, what is with the awfully inconsistent handballs this round!?
First off, Sydney were denied a pretty obvious penalty against Brisbane in the 39th minute (not that they need any more help sitting 1st and undefeated). Nonetheless, it was a handball that went unpunished.
Later in the round, Victory were awarded a pretty non existent one to give Berisha his 91st A League goal. That penalty seemed to take the wind out of the Jets' sails for the remainder of the game.
Sure enough, Newcastle would have a legitimate handball claim waved off. Mark Jones lamented the refereeing as politely as he could in the post game show, knowing full well the repercussions of publicly blasting the match officials.
This week Mark Bosnich was out of line suggesting that Wellington Phoenix don't contribute to the A League. A laughable notion, considering we're trying to boost the game and expand to more team in this league, the last thing you want to see is a football personality try to tear down a team.
Bosnich used evidence against them in the form of crowd and membership numbers, key elements that were critical in the Phoenix getting a 10 year A League license.
Why not bring up the Mariners in that case? They've got one of the smallest clubs in the league in all areas, from membership to attendance to finances, it's pretty obvious that they're not a huge club, but they still do considerably well for themselves otherwise.
Bosnich also brought up the fact that they're not an Australian club. Granted, this may cause some problems with Asian Champions League qualification, but just because they're based in New Zealand it doesn't mean they're any less capable. They still help develop Australian players, they're still providing competition.
It seems as though he's had a slow day at the office if you ask me. It's completely unprovoked, unnecessary and counterproductive. When we're trying to grow and develop this league, this is the last thing that needs to be brought up right now.
As Wellington's general manager said, stick to punditry mate.