A-League Week 8 round-up

Melbourne Heart scored for the first time since October 19 - Robert Cianflone

Melbourne Heart scored three (!) times but even that could not earn a first victory of 2013/14. That 3-3 result on Sunday highlighted a weekend with three draws, two of them scoreless.

Melbourne Heart did not win, and neither did Adelaide United, but that did not keep the A-League weekend's final game from being the most interesting and exciting of Week 8. Still, the ladder did not change much as the status quo was preserved across the league with only Sydney FC moving significantly. Perhaps now the league is moving away from the frenetic first two months and easing into a more predictable routine. Either way, here is what happened in Week 8:

Friday November 29: Central Coast Mariners 0 - Melbourne Victory 0

The battle between the league's two newest managers ended in stalemate at Bluetongue Stadium.

Saturday November 30: Brisbane Roar 1 - Perth Glory 0

Besart Berisha continued his impressive return from injury, giving Brisbane Roar a home victory against Perth Glory on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium. The Albanian striker beat Danny Vukovic to the far post after making a swift move inside the box to free just enough space to fire. The 57th minute goal was enough to hold off an impassioned Glory side playing without injured defenders Scott Jamieson and William Gallas and suspended captain Jacob Burns, not to mention Shane Smeltz, who hobbled off before halftime with an ankle injury. 21-year-old goalkeeper Matt Acton made his first team debut for the Roar in place of the injured Michael Theo. Though not overly tested, the debutant made enough saves, particularly from Jamie Maclaren shots, to preserve the clean sheet. Now three points clear atop the A-League ladder, Brisbane will travel this week to South Australia for a Friday night fixture on December 6 against Adelaide United. Perth will try to regroup, while still missing all of the aforementioned regulars, on Friday night at home against Wellington Phoenix.

Saturday November 30: Sydney FC 2 - Newcastle Jets 0

Sydney FC won again, their fourth on the bounce, dispatching of Newcastle Jets by a 2-0 score line for the second time this season. Saturday's game at the Allianz Stadium featured the club's record winning streak as well as its 300th all-time A-League goal, which was scored by Joel Chianese on the strike of halftime. Ali Abbas whipped in a cross from the left which was deftly played down by Chianese, setting himself up perfectly for a cross goal shot in injury time. On the hour, last week's hero, Ranko Despotovic, used a marauding run and difficult near post shot to beat Mark Birighitti and double the hosts' lead. Things might've been worse if not for a brilliant double save by the Jets' goalkeeper just moments before Despotovic put the game away. Newcastle's best look was blazed over the bar on a mostly open net by Nathan Burns early in the second half. The Sky Blues have gone from laughing stock to tied with rivals Western Sydney Wanderers for second place in only a month's time. Next up are Central Coast Mariners on Saturday December 7. The Jets are at Melbourne Victory on Sunday December 8.

Sunday December 1: Wellington Phoenix 0 - Western Sydney Wanderers 0

Eight weeks into the season, Wellington Phoenix still haven't won. Though Paul Ifill nearly gave them all three points with a last second shot. Instead, the New Zealand club drew for the fourth time in the first third of the season, holding last season's premiership winners scoreless at Westpac Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Statistically speaking, it was a pretty ugly game with the Wanderers successful on just two of twenty-seven crosses and the two teams combining for eight shots on target. Both goalkeepers were required to make saves but nothing overly troublesome for either Ante Covic or Glen Moss. The draw for the Wanderers allowed their city rivals to catch them on points, just three shy of top rung Brisbane Roar. Western Sydney will host Melbourne Heart on Saturday December 7 while the Phoenix make the long-distance trip to Perth where they will play the Glory on Friday December 6.

Sunday December 1: Melbourne Heart 3 - Adelaide United 3

Week 8's most entertaining, and most unexpected game, came at its conclusion with Melbourne Heart coming close to winning for the first time this season. The home side, down 2-0 to Adelaide United in the quarter hour, scored three times in seventeen second half minutes to take a 3-2 lead, before allowing a Marcelo Carrusca goal in the 77th minute. Steven Lustica and Sergio Cirio scored for Adelaide in the game's early moments, signaling what appeared to be yet another disaster for the Heart. But Andrea Migliorini's two fantastic goals lifted the Melbourne side after incompressible misses in the first half. David Williams converted a penalty after a controversial handball was called against the Reds in the 71st minute to give Heart a stunning lead with less than twenty minutes left at AAMI Park. But five minutes later, Carrusca's free kick was deflected past Andrew Redmayne to leave the score tied and prevent Heart's first win of the season. John Aloisi might have lost his job had the score finished 2-0 to Adelaide so the stirring comeback certainly keeps him in charge for at least another week, though Heart do remain bottom after Wellington also drew. Adelaide, who started so brightly in both the season and this game, finish the week still in eighth place, unable to translate attractive play into wins since the season's first week. The Reds have a quick turnaround in hosting top of the ladder Brisbane Roar on Friday night December 6 at the Coopers Stadium. Heart get no favors in having to travel to Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday December 7 for their next crack at a first victory.

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