Isuzu UTE A-League R18 Talking Points: Reds struck by trend ‘you see right through world football’

Catch up with all the highlights from Round 18 in the Isuzu UTE A-League

These are the key talking points from Round 18 in the Isuzu UTE A-League, including high praise for a Glory keeper back in favour, and a defiant message ahead of the Sydney Derby.

Confidence at an alltime low as Reds sink to fourth loss in five

Adelaide United continue to slide down the Isuzu UTE A-League table, but head coach Carl Veart is not giving up hope of a run to the finals.

Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Western Sydney leaves Adelaide in tenth place on the ladder but now, crucially, eight points behind the finals places.

A first half double from Wanderers forward Nicolas Milanovic did the damage at Coopers Stadium as Carl Veart’s side succumbed to their ninth loss of the campaign.

REDS 1-2 WANDERERS: Wanderers survive late push from 10-man Reds to notch slender win on the road

“That’s what happens when you’re sort of struggling down the bottom with the wins,” said Veart in his post-match press conference.

“Confidence is a strange thing in football. You see it right through world football, you know teams that are lacking confidence always seem to make things a little bit more difficult than what they are.”

A late Luka Jovanovic goal halved the deficit against Western Sydney but a red card for Ben Halloran in the 75th minute meant the damage had already been done and now leaves head coach Carl Veart without another attacking important attacking option.

To make matters worse for the Reds they now face a daunting away trip to table toppers Wellington Phoenix in Round 19 followed by a home clash with third-placed Melbourne Victory.

“We play some good football but we don’t make the most of the opportunities that we create for ourselves,” reflected Veart after the loss. “That’s sort of been where we are all year.

“We make it a little bit easier for sides to score against us and don’t make the most of our opportunities at the other end.

Asked whether or not Adelaide’s finals hopes are now all but over, Veart was steadfast in his belief they can still make the six.

“We’re going to keep fighting and I think you saw that tonight from the playing group. They’re not going to give up, they’re going to keep working hard.

He continued: “It’s just some moments that are costing us games. Those moments have been costing us – when we look back over the whole course of the season – moments we need to be better at.

“It consistently keeps happening but we have just got to keep working, keep believing in ourselves and not give up.”

Glory boss lauds response from keeper after three months on the outskirts

Perth Glory head coach Alen Stajcic couldn’t be happier with the form and attitude of off-season recruit Oliver Sail who has thrived for his new side after nearly three months spent behind Cameron Cook in the goalkeeping pecking order.

Sail, a New Zealand international, signed for Glory from Wellington Phoenix in the off-season and played the first two rounds of the new campaign. But Stajcic then placed the 28-year-old on the bench in favour of Cook who donned the gloves for the following 10 games. 

GLORY 0-0 PHOENIX: League-leaders held by in-form Perth in goalless Distance Derby draw 

Sail’s reintroduction to the starting XI came in Round 13 as Perth shocked Western Sydney Wanderers with a 2-1 win on the road. That result sparked a six-game unbeaten run leading up to and including Saturday night’s 0-0 draw with league-leading Wellington Phoenix, Sail’s first clean sheet of the season.

“When he wasn’t playing, he was the ultimate professional supporting Cooky and training hard every session,” Stajcic said.

“You couldn’t ask more from such an experienced, high-calibre player who became a No.2. When it was the time for him to earn his spot back in the side I had full confidence he’d come in and take the opportunity with both hands – and I think he’s shown that over the last (six) games. 

“He’s a top keeper, and he’s shown why he’s been an international goalkeeper and will be in the future as well, and is so highly regarded. I think he was courted by the Socceroos at one time as well, so he’s that level of goalkeeper. 

“For me, I expect that from him. I think he’s at that level, and I think he’s got a lot more to give so we’ll definitely need him in the run-in towards the end of the season.”

Talay ‘still hurt’ by first derby but City draw reinforces belief ‘we’re way ahead’

Sydney FC head coach Ufuk Talay is eager to bury the demons of a slender 1-0 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers in November’s Sydney Derby as he prepares his charges to take on their bitter rivals this weekend.

Talay has overseen a great run of form for the Sky Blues of late, with Saturday’s 1-1 draw to Melbourne City adding to a six-game unbeaten run – the longest Sydney have managed this season.

Talay took over from former Sydney coach Steve Corica in November and took on the Wanderers in his second game at the helm, losing 1-0 to a second-half Zac Sapsford goal.

Speaking after his side’s draw with City in Round 18, Talay said memories of his first derby experience still hurt him but recent form shows the Sky Blues are in a better position to attack the Wanderers this time around.

“But the way we want to play, we’re on the front foot. So we’re going to go there to try to win,” Talay said.

“We’re not going to sit back and defend our goal, we’re going to go and attack their goal.

“I think we’ve come a long way from where we are since that game. It still hurts me, the loss, even at that time when we conceded I thought we were having a really good period where we could’ve capitalised in that game.

“I think we’re way ahead of where we were from that game.”

SYDNEY 1-1 CITY: Sizzling strike from City’s Celtic loanee rescues a point in clash with Sky Blues

Clarity the key for Jackson as Mariners go from strength to strength

They may have played seven games in the month of February but Mark Jackson’s Central Coast Mariners are seemingly well-equipped to take on any challenge.

Not only was Sunday’s 1-0 win their first ever away triumph over Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park but crucially it took them three points behind league leaders Wellington Phoenix.

But arguably the most impressive aspect of their 1-0 win was the fact Jackson and his coaching staff had just two days to prepare his side for the mammoth fixture at AAMI Park and that included deploying a completely new formation.

VICTORY 0-1 MARINERS: Hoodoo broken! Mariners make history in chaotic Victory clash which saw three players sent off

Furthermore, that two-day turnaround came off the back of a gruelling 120-minute performance against fellow Isuzu UTE A-League side Macarthur FC in Campbelltown where a late Ronald Barcellos goal sent them through to the latter stages of the AFC Cup.

“A lot of coaching,” said Jackson when asked how he and his team were able to help mastermind that performance. “A lot of coaching, a lot of work on the training ground.

“That was limited this week because of the Macarthur game so a lot of video with the players. Whenever you’re doing that you have to create clarity for the players, that’s really, really important.

He continued: “You can go into any formation but if you complicate things… we try and make it as simple as possible for the players and give them real clarity and the players are really buying into that.

“Even yesterday (Saturday), they said we’re not quite sure on something so there you go, we have another meeting, we talk through it and we create that clarity for the players.”

The decision to shift formation paid dividends for Jackson but it wasn’t without its risks. The Englishman threw young central defender Nathan Paull back into the heart of a three-man defence despite not having started a league game since November while his decision to deploy right back Mikael Doka as an auxiliary left wing back proved to be a master stroke.

“We want to just be better every day,” said Jackson. “If you have that mindset and belief, that willingness to do that then you know things will come good.

“We’re feeling that at the minute, we’ve felt it over quite a long period of time now and we’re not going to change.”

Next up for the Mariners is an F3 Derby against Newcastle Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium where a win for Jackson’s side could see them jump to the top of the Isuzu UTE A-League ladder for the first time under his stewardship.

Western haunted by recurring trend in arduous week: ‘We’ve thrown away five points’

Across five games in two days, Western United conceded three stoppage-time goals to throw away five valuable points in defeat to Melbourne Victory and a draw with Brisbane Roar.

And after the latter result – a game Western looked set to win until the 91st minute before Jonas Markovski’s Brisbane equaliser – head coach John Aloisi was left to ponder what could have been.

Western sit last on the Isuzu UTE A-League table by some margin but the story could so easily have been different for Aloisi’s side. It’s been a season of nearly results for the green and black and six goals conceded after the 90th minute – an equal-low in the league – have not helped the cause.

ROAR 2-2 WESTERN: Western concede late again as substitute’s 91st-minute strike rescues point for Roar

Aloisi watched his side drop all three points to Victory last Tuesday having led 1-0 until the 95th minute before Damien Da Silva’s three-minute brace earned Victory all three points.

Then came Friday night’s draw with the Roar; Western led Brisbane twice but couldn’t convert as the Roar earned a late, late point and left Aloisi with further frustration.

“It’s hard to take, but it’s something we have to learn from – our younger players especially,” Aloisi said post-game. “Our older, experienced players have probably been through situations like this before but the younger players have to learn from it.

“When we’re holding onto a lead with only a few minutes left we have to make sure we defend that box with our lives and don’t allow opportunities. 

“It’s two games now in a row where we’ve conceded in stoppage time and we’ve really thrown away five points.

“We could’ve had three wins in a row in difficult circumstances. We’ve got a lot of injuries, a lot of players out, and this is always a tough place to come due to conditions. I can’t fault their all-around effort and all-around play, it’s just those last little details we need to get better at.

“We’ve felt the majority of the season we’ve been well in most games if not every game, take one or two out, and we should’ve had more from those games… if those games we could’ve held on to, we would’ve been in a totally different position and then the confidence grows a little bit more. 

“But the boys keep believing in what we’re doing, how we’re playing and what we’re trying to do. The amount of players we’ve got out, and the younger players making their debuts and not having played a lot of senior football, they’re doing well. We just have to keep building on it.”