Chaos in Campbelltown, lingering lightning, Suncorp’s shameful surface

Another action-packed weekend of football is in the books and there’s a bit to unpack, so let’s get stuck in. Here are your A-League Round 6 talking points.

Bulls claim seven-goal thriller

We had to be patient for the match of the round, but Macarthur’s 4-3 triumph over Adelaide was worth the wait. It was a remarkably open game, and as the scoreline suggests neither’s side defence shone at Campbelltown Stadium.

After twice coming from behind to level the scores, the Reds got themselves in front through Zach Clough and it seemed Carl Veart’s side were in the mood to go on with it. However, their backline again faltered, coughing up two goals in two minutes to the delight of the surprisingly loud Bulls faithful.

Considering the attacking philosophy instilled by Veart, until this round Adelaide’s defence had been quite stingy, only allowing seven goals in five matches.

Macarthur, meanwhile, are up to third on the table with Ulises Davila as usual pulling the strings in midfield. The Mexican No.10 has shown his class in the A-League since his time in New Zealand and with the form he’s in at the moment, the Bulls could be destined for a very strong campaign.

Sydney outlast Perth on wild night

On a very wet and stormy evening in the Harbour City, Sydney FC hung on to the three points in what was definitely the most bizarre football match I’ve ever attended.

The heavy rain was uncomfortable for fans but it was the persistent lightning strikes in and around Sydney’s inner-east that forced a lengthy extension to the half-time break. Close to two hours after Alireza Faghani had blown to signal the end of the first half, the two teams finally returned to the pitch for a second warm-up and play was then resumed.

It was a strange evening, with the crowd thinning out throughout while The Cove did an admirable job of sustaining the atmosphere. When Andrew Redmayne misjudged Oliver Bozanic’s free kick late on it made for a nervy finish for the Sky Blues, but Sydney managed to close out the second-longest game in A-League history.

Alen Stajcic could count his side unlucky to leave Allianz Stadium empty-handed, considering some of the chances Perth were unable to capitalise on. For Ufuk Talay it’s two wins from three games, but the latter two performances show Sydney FC are still far from their best.

Spring chicken Fornaroli humming as Victory remain undefeated

Rolling back the years, the 36 years young Bruno Fornaroli can’t seem to stop scoring again. Fornaroli is deservedly considered in the upper echelon of A-League strikers along with the likes of Besart Berisha, Jamie Maclaren and Archie Thompson, and his late-career hot streak should ensure he raises the bat with 100 goals across stints with Melbourne City, Perth and Victory.

Melbourne Victory’s Bruno Fornaroli celebrates a goal against Sydney FC. (Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)

Tony Popovic’s side had to settle for a share of the spoils in Gosford but are humming along well enough. They are still undefeated, but have failed to win in four matches after two wins to open the season.

It’s been such an open start to 2023-24 across the league so it’s difficult to distinguish the pretenders from the contenders at this stage, but I’m confident that Melbourne Victory will fall into the latter category come the end of the season.

Another unacceptable Suncorp surface

As long as A-League clubs’ home venues are controlled by state governments and councils, the condition of surfaces across the competition will vary considerably. This is a long-term problem and there’s no solution on the horizon, perhaps with the exception of Western United, if their much-hyped stadium is ever delivered.

This is something fans understand and begrudgingly tolerate. However, what is not tolerable is the current state of the Suncorp Stadium pitch. Ground staff were not helped by the fierce storm southeast Queensland experienced on Friday night, which delayed kick-off by an hour, but the pitch was in awful nick a week previous for Brisbane’s 2-1 victory over Perth.

Even one of the best maintained grounds, Coopers Stadium, isn’t safe – the Foo Fighters’ gig over the weekend will no doubt cause issues in Adelaide. In recent weeks we’ve also seen the farcical relocation of the F3 Derby due to motorbikes destroying the McDonald Jones Stadium surface, as well as the Wanderers’ women’s side postponing a game because they couldn’t find anywhere in Australia’s most populous city to play.

Luka Jovanovic of Adelaide poses with his A-League Player Of The Month Award during the round 24 A-League Men’s match between Adelaide United and Western United at Coopers Stadium, on April 16, 2023, in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

There is only one solution to this problem: hundreds of millions of dollars invested in privately built stadia. But as wealthy as some of the league’s owners are, I can’t see many going into their own pockets for this purpose.

Quick hits

-Wellington ground out another victory on the road to go top of the league. New manager Giancarlo Italiano has done a stellar job with the Nix, who are filling the vacuum left by Melbourne City and Central Coast at the pointy end of the ladder.

-Tim Cahill’s son, Shae, made his debut for Brisbane and almost scored but for a great stop from Lawrence Thomas. I always find it interesting how these players deal with playing in their father’s shadow, and what a shadow it is in this case.

-Western United’s move to their soon-to-be completed training base can’t come soon enough. Watching United’s home games at Mars Stadium is utterly depressing. Who knows when – or if – the 15,000-capacity ground will become reality, but at least the training ground is rectangular. Baby steps.

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