A-League Week 11 round-up

Hagen Hopkins

Wellington Phoenix finally won leaving Melbourne Heart as the only winless side left in the A-League.

Friday December 20: Brisbane Roar 0 - Newcastle Jets 2

The Jets stunned the Roar on Friday night with a two-goal victory at Suncorp Stadium.

Saturday December 21: Melbourne Heart 1 - Melbourne Victory 3

Melbourne Victory claimed the latest Melbourne Derby, this time at AAMI Park against 10-man Melbourne Heart on Saturday. Mitch Nichols scored twice, sandwiching another James Troisi goal, to send the Victory, ostensibly the away team, to an easy 3-0 lead. Nick Kalmar scored late on for the Heart but it was nowhere near enough to approach winning for the first time this season. Patrick Kisnorbo was sent off with a straight red card in the 20th minute for his studs-up tackle of Conor Pain at the edge of the box. Kisnorbo will miss an additional match thanks to that challenge, but more immediately, left his teammates in a difficult position against a clearly better Victory side. John Aloisi's Heart have now gone winless in their past sixteen games, dating to last season, and have just four draws this year. With Wellington Phoenix finally winning, Heart are alone at the bottom of the ladder and after just eleven weeks are already twelve points out of a finals position. CEO Scott Munn has criticized those asking whether it's time for Aloisi to resign, but surely this run cannot continue much longer. Heart can make up some ground on Friday December 27 when they host the Phoenix at AAMI Park. The Victory will host Western Sydney Wanderers the next day in a big game between third and second place.

Sunday December 22: Wellington Phoenix 1 - Sydney FC 0

Wellington Phoenix finally won a game. That is the weekend's biggest story as Stein Huysegems gave Ernie Merrick's Kiwi side three points at Westpac Stadium on Saturday against Sydney FC. Having twice drawn Western Sydney Wanderers and unluckily failing to take a point off of the Sky Blues in their last encounter, Wellington have generally been better than their record would indicate. The day was not without heartache, however, as Paul Ifill was carried off on a stretcher with an injury that was later confirmed as a completely ruptured achilles tendon. The 34-year-old will miss at least eight months, though his post-game tweets indicated a strong desire to return to the pitch, approaching his 35th birthday. Still, Merrick will be pleased to finally win, especially given the chance to do so twice in a row with a game coming on Friday at Melbourne Heart. If Carlos Hernandez, who was the subject of rumors regarding his happiness at the club just days ago, can play as well as he did against Sydney, the Phoenix stand a good chance to edge toward eighth place Adelaide United. Though the result was a poor one for Sydney, they remain in a three-way tie for third place and will get a chance to redeem themselves with a Boxing Day home game against Brisbane Roar on Thursday.

Sunday December 22: Perth Glory 0 - Adelaide United 0

The first game of the Kenny Lowe era, however long that may last, ended with neither Perth Glory nor Adelaide United scoring at the nib Stadium. Captain Jacob Burns was restored to the starting XI and made a key tackle on Marcelo Carrusca in the second half to maintain a scoreless draw. Meanwhile, without nepotism to blame, Cameron Edwards started again for the Glory and justified Lowe's decision with a good 54 minutes. Ryo Nagai left the game in the 73rd minute with what was later ruled a torn hamstring, which will cost the Japanese winger at least four weeks. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Sunday's game was Adelaide's inability to get on the score sheet, particularly given their four-goal exposition against Central Coast last weekend. The Reds will try to get closer to a finals position when they host Newcastle Jets on Sunday at the Coopers Stadium. The Glory do not play again until Tuesday December 31 when they travel to Gosford to play the Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium.

Monday December 23: Western Sydney Wanderers 2 - Central Coast Mariners 0

Round 11 came to a close on Monday at Pirtek Stadium as Western Sydney Wanderers defeated Central Coast Mariners by two goals. Tomi Juric, on his return from injury, opened scoring in spectacular fashion with a overhead/scissor kick in the 20th minute. When Youssouf Hersi added a second Wanderers goal before halftime, the three points were all but secure for the home side. The Mariners, playing their second match in five days, thanks to a rescheduled game at North Sydney Oval on Thursday, were unable to capitalize on a few good chances, particularly in between the two Wanderers goals. All three points keep distance between Western Sydney and third place Melbourne Victory, though the two teams face each other at AAMI Park on Saturday December 28. The Mariners are in sixth after the weekend's proceedings, having been passed by both the Victory and Newcastle Jets. Central Coast will host Perth Glory on Tuesday December 31 after a full week to recover.

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