Saturday, December 22, 2012
Wanderers in A-League title contention
By Angela Habashy
After 12 bruising A-League rounds, one Sydney side emerged as genuine heavyweight title contenders while the other was left well and truly on the ropes.New boys Western Sydney thumped high-flying Adelaide 6-1 on Friday night with the second-placed Reds left seeing stars after the Parramatta Stadium bout.Just six months since their formation, the Wanderers are proving a real success story, rocketing to fourth spot on the ladder."To sum it up, they bashed us up," Adelaide coach John Kosmina said."We're not a team of fighters - not to say we can't when we need to."But you actually need to be in a few fights before you learn how to stand up for yourself."Wanderers' hat-trick hero, striker Mark Bridge, who added to Dino Kresinger, Shinji Ono and Joe Gibbs' goals, said Friday night's demolition had been building for a while."Sooner or later, we knew it would come that we'd absolutely destroy a team - it just happened to be this game," Bridge said.Former champions Sydney FC on the other hand were left spluttering on the canvas as the Newcastle Jets delivered another sucker punch.The Sky Blues went down 2-1 at Hunter Stadium on Saturday - their eighth loss this season - leaving them wounded at the bottom of the ladder on just 10 points.A furious Frank Farina warned his charges he'd wield the axe if they weren't willing to show some mongrel.And they'll need to more than ever with two especially-tough matches ahead in coming days when they face table-toppers Central Coast on Thursday before taking on Adelaide on New Year's Eve."I'm a fighter and I'll go down swinging in terms of the fight to make it off the bottom and I expect the players that will be with me will have that same attitude," the new Sydney coach said."If they don't, they won't play."In what was a tale of two cities this week, Melbourne Victory emerged as the dominant force in their territorial battle.The Victory snatched a late win over cross-town rivals Melbourne Heart on Saturday.Veteran striker Archie Thompson chipped home the extra-time winner to secure the 2-1 victory and third place on the ladder.Meanwhile, Mike Mulvey's tenure as Brisbane coach began with a loss on Friday night as Perth Glory downed the Roar 1-0 in a dour affair at Suncorp Stadium.Leaders Central Coast Mariners were held to a 1-1 draw away to Wellington Phoenix on Saturday as the league's top scorer Daniel McBreen continued his excellent form.