Wanderer Tate Russell has been named in the Hyundai A-League’s Team of the Week for Round 23.
It was a hard-fought Round 23 in the Hyundai A-League as teams right across the league upped their push for finals football.
The round opened with a tight 1-0 win for Brisbane Roar over Central Coast Mariners on Friday night, before the score lines tightened further still on Saturday as Sydney FC and Perth Glory played out a bore draw and Melbourne City and Western Sydney Wanderers cancelled each other out 1-1.
The goals proved easier to come by on Sunday as the ‘Nix shut-out the Victory 3-0, while Newcastle Jets posted the same scoreline as they clinically dispatched Adelaide United on their home patch.
With big performers in every third of the pitch there were plenty of things to consider in order to settle on just eleven players for the latest Team of the Week.
Read on to find out who made it in our 4-4-2 formation.
Jamie Young (Brisbane Roar)
Brisbane Roar faced an early onslaught from Central Coast Mariners in their Friday night contest at Suncorp Stadium, and if not for Jamie Young’s superb glove-work the Roar may have come away from the contest empty-handed.
Instead they grew from the early Mariners barrage to nick the lead on the stroke of half time and carry out a 1-0 win to further enhance their credentials as a Finals Series threat, and Young played an immense part in earning those three points with standout stops to deny Chris Harold, Daniel De Silva and Milan Duric in the first half.
Alex Grant (Perth Glory)
It was an afternoon where the defenders stole the show at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium and few were as hard-working as Grant in his side’s nil-all draw with league-leaders Sydney FC.
The Glory efficiently stifled the Sky Blues attack for extended periods on their home patch and Grant was a big part of that as he won four of five tackles and eight of his 11 duels alongside Tomilsav Mrcela and Gregory Wuthrich.
Throw in a trio each of clearances and interceptions and it was a big afternoon for the Manchester-born Aussie in match where the defenders shined brightest.
Curtis Good (Melbourne City)
It’s not often a goal line clearance can claim rock star status – but that is precisely what the 26-year-old Good managed in the second half against the Wanderers.
With his side in the midst of an arm-wrestle, Good initially lost out to Simon Cox to allow the Wanderers attacker through on goal. The pace was taken off the Englishman’s ensuing shot by Thomas Glover and that gave Good his opportunity as he came sliding in to clear the ball off the line with just millimetres to spare.
However, Good was more than just a one-trick pony as he won four of his seven duels and amassed 92 touches across his ninety minute showing to help City salvage a point from the contest.
Alex Wilkinson (Sydney FC)
The Glory barely had a sniff of goal as they battled to a nil-all draw with Sydney FC and the quiet efficiency of Sky Blues captain Wilkinson – alongside defensive partner Ryan McGowan – was a big reason why.
The veteran defender’s unrivaled positioning denied effective supply for the Glory’s usually irrepressible attack, limiting Bruno Fornaroli and co. to just a single shot on target across the 90 minutes as the league-leaders took another small step toward what now seems an inevitable Premiership title.
Tim Payne (Wellington Phoenix)
The Phoenix were impressive from front-to-back as they dismantled the Victory in the Kiwi capital on Sunday afternoon, but their Kiwi international right back was a stand-out.
Defensively, he shone by winning 9 of his 11 duels and making four clearances to help his side to their second shut-out of the Victory this season.
While on the ball he created three scoring chances with his 86 ctouches – and none were better than his impressive surge to the byline and subsequent cross that led to his side’s opening goal.
Tate Russell (Western Sydney Wanderers)
A maiden Hyundai A-League goal is special for any player but for Russell it was extra sweet as he played a key role in the build-up prior to his cool finish – touching on Mitchell Duke’s cross-field ball for Nicolai Muller to open up the City defence.
Aside from the goal, he was hugely influential throughout the contest to secure his side a point – leading his side’s returns with 75 touches and winning 10 of his 17 duels.
The youngster’s performance was so impressive that even conceding the penalty that led to City’s only goal was not enough to prevent him from earning his place amongst the round’s stand-outs.
Luke Brattan (Sydney FC)
The midfielder was the rudder that steered the Sky Blues ship once again in his side’s nil-all draw with the Glory – amassing a game best 72 passes with his 98 touches throughout the 90 minutes.
He certainly couldn’t be blamed for his side’s uncharacteristic failure to find the back of the net as he fashioned three scoring chances – including a peach of a free-kick for Rhyan Grant in the first-half – and won four fouls as his class frustrated his markers throughout.
He almost capped it all off with the winner too when he dispossessed Neil Kilkenny in the Glory box and calmly tucked the ball past Liam Reddy, with only an inadvertent handball spotted by VAR spoiling his celebrations.
Steven Ugarkovic (Newcastle Jets)
Despite their recent form woes, Adelaide had only been kept scoreless once this season prior to the Jets’ visit to Coopers Stadium.
Key to shutting them out on their home patch was the tireless efforts of Ugarkovic in midfield as he wrested control of the central third in the second half of his side’s win – notching 54 passes, two tackles and winning six duels.
He capped off his performance with his side’s third goal of the contest courtesy of a thumping headed finish – taking his tally to a career-best three goals this season.
Ulises Davila (Wellington Phoenix)
The ‘Nix were simply irresistible as they tore through the Victory on Sunday afternoon and once again the Mexican was in the thick of the action.
His impact was clear in the final score as he ended a four-game dry spell by banging home the opener in the third minute, but he also excelled away from the highlight reel by reeling off a consummate 47 passes on the ball, whilst also notching two tackles and winning five duels.
Scott McDonald (Brisbane Roar)
The face of Brisbane Roar’s attack has completely transformed since the arrival of Scott McDonald from Western United.
Coupled with young gun Mirza Muratovic up top, Robbie Fowler’s dynamic duo caused problems for the Mariners’ defence which ultimately led to the only goal of the game which McDonald struck just before half time on Friday night.
It was McDonald’s third goal for the club, which have all come in the last two games; and Brisbane’s continued rise up the Hyundai A-League table has coincided with the 36-year-old’s excellent form.
Gary Hooper (Wellington Phoenix)
The ‘Nix’s all-English strike duo of Hooper and David Ball were a constant threat against the Victory in their 3-0 win as their partnership continues to turn promise into goals.
Hooper just edged his compatriot for a place amongst the week’s stand-outs as he added to his cunning headed finish in the first half – his sixth goal of the season – with an assist by providing a pin-point lobbed pass in the second stanza to find the run of Ball, who then sealed the result with his side’s third.