Adelaide crashed out of the Premiership race after going down to 10 men and conceding twice to lose 2-1 to a Mark Bridge inspired Western Sydney Wanderers.
Adelaide United opened the scoring a minute from half-time, neat interplay between Tarek Elrich & Cameron Watson produced a rolling ball across the top of the box that Sergio Cirio smashed a first time shot into the top right corner of Ante Covic's goal.
The game changed on the hour mark as a result of a determined run by Mateo Poljak. The Wanderers defensive midfielder stormed past a trio of Adelaide midfielders, then sliced their last line of defence apart with a pinpoint through ball for Bridge. The all time highest goal-scorer for Western Sydney was playing in his 200th A-League match and his well timed run caught Nigel Boogard off guard, the central defender hacking down Bridge from behind for a clear penalty and after consultation with the linesman, a red card. Juric made no mistake with the spot kick to put the Wanderers level and with the man advantage.
Bridge marked his milestone with the matchwinner in the 73rd minute. Juric won a free kick on the left wing, although his attempt at a power drive from a Takahagi lay-off hit an onrushing defender, the bounce favoured Takahagi, allowing him to lob it back into the mixer. Juric helped the ball on, over the Adelaide defence. Bridge reacted first, and after one bounce he smashed a volley into the bottom corner.
All in all, Adelaide were punished for their reckless tackling, their entire outfield defensive unit accumulating a total of 5 yellow cards along with the red to Boogaard, their tiki-taka reduced to little more than passing between their defenders before humping long balls across to the other side of the field.
With one round to play, the Wanderers will play disgraced cheaters Perth, hoping to match or better the result of fellow cellar dwellers Newcastle, who play away against Brisbane Roar.
The Wanderers next match is against Kashima Antlers in the Asian Champions League, on Tuesday the 21st of April.
Western Sydney Wanderers vs Adelaide United
Date and Local Kick-Off Time at Stadium: Saturday 18 April 2015 - 5:00PM
Sydney Kick-Off Time: 5:00PM EST
Competition: A-League Regular Season
Location: Paramatta, New South Wales
Stadium: Parramatta Stadium
Click here to view the record
An early goal to Josh Rose saw the Central Coast Mariners win 1-0 in Gosford tonight.
A cheap turnover by Romeo Castelen gave Anthony Kalik the opportunity to slice the Wanderers defence open with a throughball that found fullback Rose, and he made no mistake slotting past Dean Bouzanis at the near post.
The rest of the game was the usual Wanderers style this season, getting into the opposition area before going back to the keeper and losing possession, or firing long balls to the likes of Bulut & Castelen, who were monstered by the giant central defensive pairing of Bosnar & Anderson.
On occasion the Wanderers did manage to fire at goal, their shooting was wayward, half off target and none that ever really gave Liam Reddy a hard time. One of the few times they did trouble the Mariners keeper, he came flying out of his area to meet Alusine Fofanah, and managed to block the shot with his head.
A neat encapsulation of the Wanderers display came late on when Anthony Golec had a chance to make an overlapping run, called for the ball, but inexplicably stopped as the pass was delivered, finding himself unable to make up the ground on the well placed pass and seeing it run out for a goal kick.
Two events that stood out apart from the action itself were the deubt of Shayne D'Cunha as a late substitute for Sam Gallaway, and Ante Covic managing to get himself booked while sitting on the bench.
Western Sydney's next match is against Adelaide United at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday the 17th of April, kick-off at 5:30pm.
Perth Glory's salary cap cheating punishment of a $269,000 fine & being banned from the A-League final series is completely inadequate, and should see Perth expunged from this season's records, Damien de Bohun should be sacked for his role in allowing the situation to turn out how it has, and the FFA need to rebuild the salary cap so players can be paid centrally, with more flexibility in squads & payments, while removing the rorts and additional payments that allowed Perth to breach the cap by so much.
When Perth "Glory" started this season, they played with a squad comprised of players on contracts that would have left them over the end of season $2.55 million salary cap. After signing high profile players such as Mitch Nichols, Youssouf Hersi, Andy Keogh, Richard Garcia and Ruben Zadkovich, questions were raised about their adherence to the salary cap that were only temporarily quietened by the shifting of Nebosja Marinkovic & Michael Thwaite to the so called "marquee" contracts. Damien de Bohun spoke out in defence of the Glory, talking about how it was a 'dynamic' situation and that he had 'no concerns'.
My first thought when this happened was that neither of these players should be considered 'marquee' players, and that the FFA should have stepped in immediately to investigate the Glory. Instead, Damien de Bohun rubber stamped the change, one that supposedly left Perth on a forecast of $50,000 under the cap, and he even gave a few choice quotes about how he had 'no concerns' about the club breaching the cap. Additional reports showed the club rorting the cap as long ago as the 2010/11 season by having the laughable situation of Robbie Fowler being listed as sharing a house with Steven McGarry... a house just happened to be owned by Tony Sage, the Perth Glory owner. Neither player was ever actually living there of course. Ryo Nagai was listed as living at the club office when he was actually living at a location owned by a person affiliated with the club, while getting paid over $20,000 in accommodation costs.
Perth declared after these initial reports they had not breached the cap. They now still deny they have despite the overwhelming evidence.
Several months after Damien de Bohun gave Perth the all clear, his boss David Gallop reported to the media today that Perth would be banned from the final series because of a salary cap breach of over $400,000. At least 6 players were involved and it was determined that Perth had deliberately cheated by hiding these payments. In addition to the breaches in this season, Perth also failed to disclose $69,000 of payments in the past two seasons. Their total fine is $269,000 for three seasons of breaches.
This should be the end of De Bohun. His substandard performance in his role, his destruction of the embryonic attempts at creating an active support culture for the Australian national team, has now been compounded by his bungling "nothing to see here" initial reaction to a situation that should have see De Bohun immediately launch a full investigation. Instead, he not only ignored the situation, he actively defended Perth until a whistle-blower stepped forward and tipped off the FFA to begin an actual investigation. He has no credibility left and must go.
The punishment for Perth is not enough. It is a weak punishment that isn't in keeping with the scope of their long term systemic cheating of the salary cap.
Perth should be expunged from the record of this season. They should not be dropped to 7th at the end of the season, they should be dropped off the ladder entirely. It should be as if we had a 9 team competition.
Tony Sage should be stripped of his license. Perth have become an even bigger joke year on year under his leadership, but at least previously their circus had never really impacted on more than just their position on the ladder.
The first action of the new FFA ownership should be to sack all the staff affiliated with the breaches, and to withdraw the contracts of the players who greedily accepted payments going to their family members. FFA should immediately begin work to create a community owned club, as yet another ultra-rich owner using his club as a plaything and either taking his hands off the wheel and letting it crash, or being complicit in a massive salary cap breach. The time of the rich magnate is at an end. All future clubs should start as FFA owned then transition to a community owned club with 51% control over the club.
I would seriously investigate winding down the club and putting an end to this tainted brand. The heads of Tony Sage, the players who took this money, and the management of the club involved should hang in shame, having bought both the club and the league into disrepute at a time when we are starting to look toward a longer term sustainable future along with a regeneration of our national team.
The PFA need to make a full disclosure about what they knew about the contracts, and if they at any point had any knowledge about payments that are clearly the kind that risked clubs going over the cap. Instead of doing anything to ensure their members get paid regardless of contractual obligations or the rules, they must now start a process where their own members can report such attempts at subversion of the cap, and to immediately bring them to the attention of the FFA. So far all the PFA have done is released a statement telling the players they can get off scot free, walk out on their clubs and go sign for another club.
To prevent this from ever happening again the FFA need to rework the salary cap rules. All contracts should be centrally paid by the FFA, and the range of rorts and perks that Perth have used and appear to believe were legitimate, and may in fact be legitimate for other clubs if used within the cap, should be simply put, outright banned. Attempts to subvert the cap must result in the club ownership, club management both football wise (vested in a technical director and/or club head coach) and in the office (CEO, financial officers and suchlike) being severely punished and being banned from involvement in football.
I believe that this change will require a raise in the cap to improve the contracts to a level that are roughly equivalent to the method that exists now. These reforms should also be taken as a chance to lower the salary cap floor, to remove minimum payment and remove squad caps to give clubs the ability to sign more players on cheaper contracts that better reflect their ability and situation, while still having the ability to sign high quality players.
The Western Sydney Wanderers went into this season knowing their A-League squad could only ever be comprised of their youth league players and the 26 men who made up the first team squad. The Wanderers could not start the season by having Kearyn Baccus in from the start to put pressure on Vitor Saba. We might have been able to sign Bulut earlier. We weren't able to offer a contract to Jerrad Tyson to provide 3 way competition in the goalkeeping position. We couldn't retain our captain Michael Beauchamp. Or Aaron Mooy. Or Rocky Visconte.
Instead we had to wait until our players was hurt. Any additional players outside injury replacements are only able to play in the Asian Champions League, waiting until another of our players got hurt or had to be released. We won the Asian Champions League despite these limitations, but our domestic season was badly hurt by fatigue, and without a wider squad that can cope with the higher demand, their performance on the pitch suffered.
Perth went into this season not only having no ACL commitments, but went on a spending spree, cheating their way to assembling a squad that went through to the FFA Cup final (which ironically featured Perth complaining that Adelaide getting the home final was not 'fair'), and was challenging for the Premiership.
Western Sydney faced Perth twice this season so far. On both occasions, dozens of Wanderers supporters spent hundreds of dollars to go to Perth, myself included. We watched our team lose both times, to a team who cheated. On both occasions, Perth played effectively full strength but illicitly acquired squad, comprising the likes of Andy Keogh (alleged to have been paid up to half of his $300,000 wages through his wife), Marinkovic, Thwaite, Vukovic, Sidnei, Dino Djulbic, Hersi, Daniel De Silva & Garcia.
We lost each game by a goal.
Our punishment is that we will finish below a team who cheated.
That is a disgraceful way to end the season.
I call on the Wanderers to tell Perth to get stuffed and to play a charity match as our final game of the season. What are the FFA going to do? Take points away? "Adjust" our position to 10th, assuming we don't end up there anyway?
I also call on the club to immediately release a statement confirming that the club either does not use these tricks and rorts, and if they are using them, that they are 100% certain that there is no chance that the club will breach the cap now or in the future.
Supporters deserve better than one of the clubs in the league destroying the credibility of the season in such a fashion.
I hope that our team is never ever put into this situation by the management.
Central Coast Mariners vs Western Sydney Wanderers
Date and Local Kick-Off Time at Stadium: Saturday 11 April 2015 - 7:30AM
Sydney Kick-Off Time: 7:30PM EST
Competition: A-League Regular Season
Location: Gosford, New South Wales
Stadium: Central Coast Stadium
Click here to view the record