tHe A lEaGUe HaS nO cULtuRe aNd is DyInG…um try again sweetie. After the excitement of the opening clash of round 6 being the embodiment of “just A-League things”, the Central Coast Mariners v Sydney clash had a lot to live up to. And boy did it. With everything from the cult figure of Matt Simon scoring to a handicapped pitch invader making it onto the pitch, Sokkah Twitter again found themselves questioning, has peak A-League finally been reached?
Oh and Sydney won 2-1.
CCM came into the clash sporting a back 3, with the starting 11 seeing the return of Matt Simon for McCormack who injured his knee during training yesterday, McGing in for the suspended Cissé, and no option to play De Silva who was ineligible for selection against his parent club. Despite those changes translating into “wow, as if CCM needed any further handicap”, the home team came out firing as early as the first minute with an on-target shot from Clisby. That’s about where the brilliance from Clisby ended (see 41st minute).
CCM continued to dominate play throughout the first half, with the major involvement from Sydney players coming in the form of injury delays and arguably a first half BOG for Sydney going to the team physio. Ninkovic was the first to go down in the 7th following a Melling challenge, however did manage to roll himself off the pitch (Taggart take note), to reappear about 2 minutes later but never looking fully comfortable for the remainder of the match. Jop van der Linden was the next to require treatment only 6 minutes later off the back of a strong “welcome to the A-league” Simon challenge.
The 16th minute saw a moment of beauty for the league, with Matt Simon opening the scoring for CCM off a Millar assist. Simon chose not to celebrate the goal as a mark of respect to his former club (respect and Matt Simon, please try not to all laugh at once), however fans all round did it for him with the “you didn’t want him” cheers flooding in. There is nothing quite like knowing you’re going to see your ex to help step up your game; make them jealous, let them know that you’ve moved on, thank you, next, next and all that.
The CCM dominance continued, including Millar’s filthy nutmeg on Zullo, until the turning point of the match. The 41st saw Clisby concede a penalty through clipping the back of Grant’s shin just inside the box. Up steps ALF in his natural habitat of Summer Bay, to convert the penalty through a powerful strike that found the back of the net, despite clipping the hand of Kennedy.
There’s nothing like rubbing some Central Coast sauce in the wound to continue ALF’s sausage roll quest. 4 minutes later however, ALF’s actions rhymed with some other bakery items- pasty (nasty), cake (fake), pie (dive- yeah that one was a stretch), with Elder being completely fooled and showing Golec an undeserved yellow to see out the first half. The travelling Cove clearly bought along pool noodles knowing the diving nature of Sydney when the chips are down. They were also sporting Hawaiian tops for the Cove twelvies to feel that they had been on a summer holiday, whilst still being able to get home to their mums by 10pm.
The second half saw van der Linden continue to struggle with Simon’s aggresitivity (only words made up by Harper can describe the Wizard of Woy Woy). However CCM couldn’t keep up their first half intensity for the remainder of the second. Sydney’s O’Neill capitalised on ounces of space in the 65th with a stunning top corner strike from 25 yards out to given the Smurf’s the lead.
Then came one of those moments where you wonder how something got there…Bolt trialling for the Mariners, VAR, and in the 69th minute a pitch invader on crutches… with a moonboot… in a wallabies jersey somehow managing to make it undetected into Redmayne’s box causing a four minute delay. Maybe he was after free physio treatment that seemed to be going around? But good to see that the general public are protected by Bluetongue’s finest.
In the end CCM couldn’t comeback, but their first half assault was as surprising and entertaining as WA’s giant cow. And although their loss meant nothing for their win column, these are the football people we need to maintain our great league. So we come back to that age-old question, has peak A-league been reached? ? Well, in the wise words of Salvador Dali, the answer is of course no, for “have no fear of peak A-League, you’ll never reach it”.