Wow. On the back of this week's A League, all I can say is wow. If I were tipping the A League this season I think it's safe to say I'd have scored a measly 1/5, but that's due to my stubborn, unwavering support for the Victory. Be that as it may, I still would've messed up big time.
In a nutshell, league leaders Sydney dropped points, Western Sydney finally got their 4th win of the season, Central Coast sealed back to back wins for the first time since April 2014. Not necessarily huge upsets, but I certainly wouldn't have bet on these teams, that's for sure. Let's take a closer look at this week's football.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Normally, I'm a sucker for games with 5 or more goals, and half of me wants to give this week to Perth Glory vs Newcastle Jets. The game was 2-1 at half time and ended 3-2 in favour of the Glory, who comfortably occupy 5th place in the race to the finals.
But I'm going slightly biased (just slightly) and saying that the Melbourne Derby is this week's game of the week.
Was it clean, classy, beautiful football? Absolutely not. But the adrenaline pumping action did not stop, leaving it very late for the final result. A total of 11 yellow cards, 1 red card, 2 own goals, a missed penalty, plenty of shoves and words exchanged made for one hell of a night. Etihad Stadium was a volatile atmosphere ready to blow at any second, and the match couldn't have ended any more shambolic than Tim Cahill's spectacular send off without having set foot on the pitch.
Good luck to Melbourne City next week, with a potential 7 players out suspended and another injured. Seems Besart Berisha had the last laugh over Dean Bouzanis.
GOAL OF THE WEEK
I'm giving this one a joint winner for the week. Despite both goals being in vain with their teams losing, Jason Hoffman and Jordan O'Doherty scored their first goals for Newcastle and Adelaide respectively. Both strikes came from outside the box, O'Doherty with a beautifully curled effort, while Hoffman laced his shot with venom. A fantastic pair of goals that impressed the commentary team, have a look at both of them here.
FROM HERO TO ZERO
I opted to change this section because there seem to be many more heroes that become zeroes in the A League. Couple of mentions this week. Prolific A League striker Shane Smeltz finally marked his first goal this season, only to be sent off later in the match. Wellington ultimately fell 3-1 to Western Sydney and will be without their marksman next week for their trip to Sydney.
None, however, will be so spectacular as Tim Cahill's derby appearance, or rather, lack thereof. The Socceroos talisman was preparing to come off the bench, only to have himself sent off before setting foot onto the pitch. Cahill got himself involved in the aftermath of the controversial winning goal, giving referee Chris Beath a solid spray on the sidelines. It was unnecessary, and should think twice before opening his mouth towards a referee again. Absolutely chaotic scenes.
A few things were good to see about this round. For one, Central Coast getting back to back wins for the first time in nearly 3 years. As much as they're paid out as the A League's whipping boys in recent seasons, they've shown great courage and a refusal to give up this season. That's a great mentality for a young group of players.
Another positive note was Western Sydney getting another win. Coach Tony Popovic has come under scrutiny this season and will be feeling the pressure to make finals at the very least. A win for the Wanderers will boost the confidence of the team heading into the last few rounds this season. Whether they can keep it up will be a challenge for them, with only 4 wins this season.
When it comes to a derby, anywhere in the world, form, points, table position all go out the window. From back room staff and managers to players and fans, everyone is focused purely on gaining bragging rights over your local, bitter rivals.
Unfortunately, bragging rights can come without a cost. If you're Melbourne City though, there was no bragging rights and they've come out horribly. After a supercharged derby they've lost the following 6 players to suspension:
-Osama Malik, 5th yellow card
-Manny Muscat, 5th yellow card
-Luke Brattan, 5th yellow card
-Fernando Brandán, 5th yellow card
-Bruno Fornaroli, 5th yellow card
-Tim Cahill, red card
There is still potential for goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis to face sanction for calling Berisha a "f*cking gypsy", and rumours persist about defender Michael Jakobsen carrying an injury that will keep him on the sidelines.
Needless to say, it's very bad at Melbourne City.
Okay, I'm not the only one sick of these incompetent refereeing desicions. The third goal in the Melbourne derby was surrounded with claims that Berisha was in an offside position and interfered with play, much to the dismay of City supporters. This week also saw Mariners striker Roy O'Donovan, and Western Sydney frontman Brendan Santalab, on the wrong end of incorrect offside calls. Luckily they did not influence the results, but the fact that these errors are being made concerns me greatly.
My problem is this. I've said it before, but the fact that we have full time referees has done nothing. I had hopes that it would improve the overall consistency of refereeing in this country. To have a referee's association is paramount in any sporting league as to instil values and responsibility across a team of referees, but once again they've proven themselves worthless.
We're supposed to be advancing in world football and having a greater presence on the world stage, but how poorly does it reflect on our league when our referees cannot make simple calls correct.
Get a grip and get yourselves organised refs. There isn't much room for errors like this anymore.