Adelaide United 1 Brisbane Roar 2
Perth Glory 1 Melbourne Victory 2
The Red Menace
It was a nervy final five minutes but Brisbane Roar have advanced to a semi final meeting with Western Sydney Wanderers after dispatching Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium. The Roar went up 2-0 in the first half and looked comfortable for most of the game until a late goal from Dario Vidosic gave the home side some hope and ensured a tense final five minutes.
The win completes the Roar’s transformation from cellar dwellers in November to genuine title contenders. They are now one win away from a third consecutive Grand Final. It’s been a difficult and bumpy road for coach Mike Mulvey but he seems to have finally fashioned together a team that are living up to their potential. His decision to move Ivan Franjic from right back to wing continues to pay dividends as he scored his second goal in a week and it turned out to be the difference between the two teams.
The game will be remembered for some crunching tackles from both teams which the referee failed to act upon. Adelaide put in some heavy studs up tackles that injured Thomas Broich and Luke Bratten. For their part, the Roar’s Stef Nijland also put in a dangerous tackle of his own. No red cards were shown. Not surprisingly, referee Chris Beath has been dropped from the next set of games in the finals.
It caps a disappointing season for the Reds who have never been the same since coach John Kosmina walked away from the club after a dispute with owner Greg Griffin. Even diehard supporters of the club, including TFW administrator Munch, seemed resigned to a dour conclusion to their season. Really, they were only in the finals on the back of Kosmina’s efforts in the first half of the season. In the last twelve games they have won just twice.
Adelaide United continues to be a club in turmoil. Griffin put together a selection panel to find a new coach for the club. The entire panel resigned last night, claiming that Griffin had no real intention to use their expertise and were basically being treated to a dog and pony show. At this stage, it sounds like the intention is to bring back foundation coach Ernie Merrick.
The Semi Final
Western Sydney Wanderers vs Brisbane Roar
Central Coast Mariners vs Melbourne Victory
The semi finals are an enticing prospect and the two matches have ready-built narratives.
The Wanderers versus The Roar is a clash between the most dominant team of the past two seasons taking on this year’s league leaders. If the Wanderers are to beat the Roar, it would a fitting way to head into the finals, besting the team that raised the bar and transformed the passing game in the A-League during Ange Postecoglou’s tenure. But the Roar are now experienced finals campaigners and will be eager to make it into their third consecutive grand final.
Meanwhile, Central Coast Mariners versus Melbourne Victory is a rematch of two old coaching rivals – Graham Arnold and Ange Postecoglou, easily the two best coaches in the league. Graham Arnold has lead the Mariners to three consecutive seasons scoring over 50 points, the only coach to do so, and he has done it with the club that has the smallest budget in the league and with no marquee players. Of course, the big prize continues to elude Arnold and he was cruelly reminded of his club’s label as chokers when they lost midweek in the Asian Champions League after leading 1-0 until the 85th minute. He will be eager to atone for his loss and beat Ange Postecoglou’s team.
For his part, Ange has had a monumentally successful season after leaving two-time champions Brisbane Roar for his home state’s club Melbourne Victory. He has transformed the team from inconsistent underachievers to a finals contender in just a single season. The side still seems to suffer from massive defensive lapses but their strikeforce is so potent that it almost doesn’t matter.
Two great semi finals. Four teams in the mix. In 3 days, we will have our Grand Final set in stone.