The trend of draws in the 2010-11 Hyundai A-League has continued into Round 2 with another three draws on the table.
The biggest shocks of the round were the two winners, with last season’s Grand Finalists maintaining a winless start to the season, with North Queensland Fury shocking the defending champions and Perth Glory ending the drought of wins in Melbourne by knocking off the Melbourne Victory.
The round got underway as Wellington Phoenix opened their season, having received the weekend break in Round one. Monsoon like conditions greeted Gold Coast United as they made the trip across the Tasman, amazingly 8,398 fans braved the conditions and they were rewarded with a six goal thriller.
Paul Ifil got Wellington off to a fantastic start just six minutes into the match, although almost conceded straight away with Caravella’s 25 yard strike thundering off the post. Gold Coast were determined to fight back, and in the 36th minute they got their equalizer courtesy of former Wellington star player, Shane Smeltz.
However the silence wasn’t going to last long, as straight from the kick-off Wellington worked their way up the field and restored their lead thanks to Chris Greenacre, who came out in the second half to score his second and give the Phoenix a 3-1 lead shortly after half time.
Gold Coast were not about to roll over and they were determined to salvage a point from this match, and Shane Smeltz was always going to be a key man, after hitting the post earlier Smeltz was able to net his second of the match and set up an enthralling finish with 16 minutes to play.
It was Jason Culina who salvaged the point for Gold Coast with a great header only four minutes from time.
Later on Friday it was over to Newcastle where the Jets hosted the new boys Melbourne Heart. Clint Bolton was able to stop the home team taking the lead with some superb goal keeping, but the Jets pressure eventually told as Jeremy Brockie opened the scoring in the 60th minute, after earlier being denied a penalty with Bridges going down under a tough challenge from Simon Colosimo, only to earn a booking for simulation.
It took a wonder strike to earn Melbourne Heart their first ever point, the problem is that it came from the Newcastle Jets’ Ben Kanterovski, a goal any striker would be proud of, unfortunately it was an own-goal, costing the Jets two points.
Saturday saw the two grand-finalists suffer defeats, first North Queensland Fury took on Sydney FC, with a dour first half the crowd witnessed a thrilling second half after Chris Grossman put the Fury in front in the 65th minute. With nine minutes left it was Scott Jamieson who was able to score and put Sydney FC level. The champions joy was short lived however, with Dyron Daal scoring just one minute later giving North Queensland Fury a 2-1 win and moving the side many fancy to finish last to the top of the table.
It was Melbourne Victory who bottomed out the A-League ladder with an emphatic 2-0 loss to Perth Glory later in the day. Tando Velhapi recovered well from his poor performance last week to do well to keep a clean sheet keeping Victory scoreless before. Jamie Harnwell was able to celebrate becoming a father with a goal in the 23rd minute before Mile Sterjovski scored a wonder strike barely four minutes into the second half, and winning the match for Perth Glory.
The round wrapped up with the opening round leaders, the Central Coast Mariners hosting Adelaide United. It was an even first half, with Mariners new striker Daniel McBreen denied by the cross bar after a powerful strike in the early stages of the match.
It was Adelaide taking the lead into half time with Iain Fyfe being allowed to stroll through the Mariners defense in stoppage time from a free kick to tap in the opening goal.
The Mariners were frustrated throughout the second half and took control when coach Arnold made a double change on the hour mark. It was Matt Simon who equalized for the Mariners four minutes from time and the Mariners were determined to win the match.
As the Mariners pushed forward seeking a winner they were denied what appeared to be a penalty when Adelaide’s Daniel Mullen appeared to handle the ball in the box. The Mariners felt that they had dropped two points, especially considering Adelaide’s Adam Hughes was given the first red card of the season shortly after the equalizer.
The league remains incredibly tight with 3 teams on top with 4 points, Australian fans look to be set for an exciting season.