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Monday, 11 March 2013
Clean Sheet 17
Well isn’t it a wonderful thing when a goalkeeper
gets a much deserved man of the match award! That is what greeted Danny Vukovic
on Friday night after his Perth Glory side made the long and familiar trek
across the Nullarbor to Newcastle to take on the Newcastle Jets. Vukovic has
played every minute of every Glory game this season and their form has been in
stark contrast to their successful 2011-12 campaign. His sharp save from a short-range
bullet strike from Adam Taggart was a contender for goal of the year and without
his service at the back, the three points could have stayed in the Hunter. For
now the Glory look back on track with a rare away win and if they finish the
season off with three more wins and other results going their way, anything can
happen in the final series.
On Saturday night I was lucky enough to be in the
crowd for the Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory game from Suncorp Stadium. The
first half was not without its chances for both sides, but it was the Victory
who took the lead on the back of a wonderful header by Leigh Broxham despite
Michael Theo’s acrobatic effort. The
Roar held the ball like a grandma holds a newborn and totally dominated in all
stats for the match except for the scoreboard. To the Victory’s credit they
hung in all match and an outstanding diving save from Nathan Coe denied Ben
Halloran with the match winner. All in all it was high quality gripping
football that gave the 12, 624 fans that flipped a coin on the dodgy weather
around town, their money’s worth.
The Central Coast Mariner’s recent form slump
continued after going down to a far more committed Sydney FC side at Allianz.
Sydney is a vasty improved defensive unit from earlier in the season and has
crept up to fifth spot on the ladder narrowly ahead of the Jets on goal
difference. A big hats off to Vedran Janjetovic who notched up his third clean
sheet for the season and must be a happy little vegemite with the back four
starting to gel and tighten things up. Although the Mariners went down, Matt
Ryan pulled off another fine angled save from the classy Allesandro Del Perio.
The Western Sydney Wanderers continued their march
towards claiming the Premier’s Plate in the club’s inaugural year with a classy
win at home against last placed Wellington Phoenix. Another bumper crowd turned
up managing to top their NRL cousins Parramatta Eel’s figure which must please
the bosses at the FFA no end. The real
positive is both codes are able to attract healthy crowds against out of town
competition, despite the scheduling clashes. The Phoenix continue to improve
under interim coach Chris Greenacre, but to be a competitive force next season
they must address their appalling away record with only one win this season.
Tonight the Melbourne Heart host Adelaide United at
AAMI Park in what is a must win one game for the Heart. They have a tough run home with games against
Western Sydney (at home) then a tough road trip that includes Brisbane and Central
Coast. For the Heart it has been an up and down year with a host of inconsistent
performances and only once recording two wins in succession. Andrew Redmayne
will be looking to secure his third clean sheet in a season where he gained
promotion to the starting side. Eugene Galekovic’s Adelaide will also be aiming
to stop the recent rot that has plagued his team and bounce back to some form
and cement a top four spot.
To the EPL and tipping this week proved harder to
pick than a broken nose! The football filled week was dominated by a visit to
Old Trafford by Real Madrid and ensuing discussion/debate on blogs everywhere
over the Nani red card decision. Whatever your opinion, you have to say his
exclusion from the game led to the wind escaping from United’s Champions League
title hopes. With United all but cruising to the EPL title the focus has firmly
shifted to the battle to defy relegation.
Aston Villa’s comeback against Reading was spirited after a wobbly start
when Nathan Baker decided he wanted to be on the goal sheet and slotted one past
a dejected Brad Guzan. In a round interrupted
by the odd FA Cup tie, only two clean sheets were recorded. Surprisingly both
occurred the Norwich/Southampton game about exciting as watching live footage
of the Papal conclave vote from the Vatican. (But whatever floats your boat?).
The keeping highlight came for Southampton’s Artur Boruc when he stopped a
Grant Holt’s dubious spot kick. Equally
Mark Bunn put in a solid showing for Norwich in the fluky and wet conditions at
Joe Hart (Manchester City) still sits alone atop
the clean sheet stat sheet on 13 with his nearest rival Petr Cech (Chelsea)
back on 10 and a group including in form Pepe Reina (Liverpool), Simon Mignolet
(Sunderland) and Asmir Begovic (Stoke City) all sitting on nine.
I will leave you this week with some utterly useless
but interesting numbers. So far this season 807 goals have been scored in the
EPL and an amazing 7239 shots faced by the 38 goalkeepers lucky enough to have
made it out onto the pitch. This week will see some Champions League return leg
games to decide the final eight. The biggest game of the week though will see
Aston Villa at home to QPR. Toss a coin on this one, although the home ground
fans may just help get Villa across the line for the three crucial points.
“Winning doesn't really matter as long as you win. “