Melbourne Victory returned to action last night in the Hyundai A-League. Facing the Newcastle Jets in Newcastle. The Victory demolished the Jets in the 3rd round at home 5-0. The gulf in class during that game was enormous and I must admit going into the game I was expecting another Victory win, especially given the Jet’s terrible home record this campaign.
The game started at a frantic pace, with the Jets’ international recruits Zura and Hakansson determined to respond to their manager’s criticism during the week. I felt for the first 15 to 20 mins, Victory were giving as good as they got. The Jets had a slight possession advantage, but the Victory looked good on the counter.
As the half progressed though, the Jets started to boss the game a bit more and Melbourne were made to work hard defensively. A brilliant move by the Jets culminated in a penalty on the 28th min. To say the penalty was harsh was an understatement. The ball was cannoned into Roddy Vargas’ shoulder as he was trying to turn away from the ball and block it with his back. Justice was served however as Zura cannoned his shot against the post. The Jet’s continued to push but failed to capitalize on their pressure and the first half finished 0-0.
Victory came out in the second half and looked bright. A red card to Archie Thompson for descent on the hour mark changed all that and for the fourth time this season Victory would have to finish the game with only 10 men. Newcastle took this opportunity to ring the changes and brought on their Marquee player, Joel Griffiths. Griffiths is quality, one of the best players in the league for my money and he almost made an immediate impact by capitalizing on a mistake from Vargas, however he failed to take full advantage.
With the game inching closer to injury time, the Jets were in complete control but couldn’t make their dominance count. On the 85th minute, Marko Jesic the teenager making his debut, capped an impressive all round performance with a storming volley to secure the points for the Jets.
Disappointing result for the Victory, and gives Sydney FC a chance to go top if they beat Perth Glory today.
Newcastle’s International recruits:
After copping a hammering from coach Gary Van Edgmond during the week for a lack of commitment you’d have to say that both Zura and Hakansson stepped up last night. Hakansson bossed the midfield and was committed to every tackle, whilst Zura added that little bit of quality which consistently threatened Melbourne. Song looked dangerous when he came on as well, without delivering any end product. Masterstroke by Van Edgmond?
Archie Thompson’s Red Card:
I support FIFA’s Respect initiative. However last night Matthew Breeze seemed more focused on providing a case study for FIFA’s respect initiative than officiating. Now I’m not sure what Archie said, but on the face of it, it seemed like just a bit of frustation. A red card for my money was overkill and completely changed the direction of the game. Officials will gain respect for allowing a game to flow its natural course, not through altering the course of a game to prove a point. Thoughts?
A sensational debut by the youngster. Jesic showed great awareness and a sharpness in front of goal that seems to be lacking from the A-League. His match winning goal showed sensational technique and hopefully is a sign of positive things to come from this young talent.
Melbourne’s playing style:
The Victory have played some of the best attacking football this season. Their short passing and intelligent running off the ball, could draw comparisons to the playing style of Arsenal. However questions must be raised of Ernie Merrick’s ability to mix things up. I’ve always had doubts about Merrick’s ability to alter a game with either tactical adjustments or substitutions. Performances like last night and Queensland previously really highlight this flaw. Melbourne have to develop a more direct approach to switch too when the short passes don’t come off.
Submitted on Sunday 19 October.
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