Byline Banter: A-League standing tall

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What a weekend in the universe’s favourite football league, which featured enormous crowds, incredible comebacks, hilarious disasters and brilliant goals.

Byline Banter looks back at all the action from round two and arranges it under some words that begin with B!

Boastful
Let’s start with the record weekend attendance. A-League fans go ahead and bow, curtsy, fits pump, air guitar, karate kick, do that thing where you grab one ankle and put your other hand on your neck and kind of ab-crunch-knee on the spotdo whatever it is you freaks do because bumper crowds and breaking attendance records is worth celebrating.

Over the weekend, 106,082 people flooded through stadium turnstiles, surpassing the previous record set in the opening week of the 2013/14 season by more 5,000.  Records were broken all over the country with a massive 41,213 recorded at Allianz Stadium for the Sydney Derby, making it the biggest crowd for a regular-season game of any code since the stadium opened in 1988.

Adelaide United saw its largest ever crowd for a football game with 33,126 people showing up for the clash with Melbourne Victory. Despite all the moaning about the loss of the Heart, Melbourne City broke the club’s attendance record for a non-derby game with over 15,000 people in the strange cloud-shaped stadium. Funny what names like David Villa and Damien Duff can do for you.

Not only were records broken, but the fans in attendance were treated to some fantastic football. With some big clashes this weekend, fans have plenty of reasons to get out there and support their team.

Honourable mentions:
– Josep Gombau shushing Kevin Muscat, something we all would like to do.
– Henrique’s net-busting goal.
– David Villa feeling like he’s the only trying for City.

Brilliance
Aren’t derbies the best? Saturday’s derby had it all: goals, cards, controversy, atmosphere and plenty of feeling on the pitch. Putting the result to one side, plenty of credit must go to the fans of both clubs. Nothing creates a better match than atmosphere and with the stands bathed in red and black, and sky blue that transferred onto the pitch. Do you think Sasa Ognenovski would have acted like a petulant child, simply trying to aggravate his opponents in any other match? Probably, but he saved it for the derby because they mean everything.

To Sydney FC’s credit, when the lads were given the advantage, they made it count and earned the three points. But Western Sydney fans have a right to feel aggrieved as plenty went against them. Ognenovski’s goal should not have counted; many SFC fans would have a hard time looking you in the eye and arguing the opposite. As for Vitor Saba, he had to go for his challenge but you have to wonder, would he have seen yellow if it wasn’t a derby match?    

The seventh Sydney Derby dished up one of the most memorable and exciting derbies the A-League has seen, but for a long time we had to make do with the Melbourne and F3 derbies. The purists may not appreciate the F3 Derby, but rest assured, there is plenty of bad-blood between Newcastle and the Central Coast.

No doubt both the Newcastle Jets and Wanderers will already be circling return fixtures in their calendars. Plus we still have this week’s Melbourne Derby to look forward to – what a time to be alive!

Honourable mentions:
– Alex Gersbach tackling not only the Wanderers but also the HSC exams, good luck, kid.
– Andy Keogh’s four goals in two games, someone buy him some gold spray paint for his boot.
– Wooden spoon favourites Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle Jets showing they’re not going to lie down.   

Blunder
Brisbane Roar are bottom of the table and still looking for points. Sunday’s match was a really big miss for the Roar, as they should have went on and won the match. Perth Glory twice came from behind and were indeed gutsy in the upset. It would be unfair to say they didn’t deserve that win – that should not be argued – but ask yourself this, would the Roar have lost that game last year?

We’ve not seen the Roar yet this season; they were outclassed by Adelaide and Perth has now pulled their pants down in front of the rest of the class. The Roar dominated possession as they usually do and tallied more shots, but following Keogh’s penalty, they didn’t look like winning. Sure Henrique scored a cracker but nine times out of 10 that’s saved or goes wide. The Roar knocked the ball about in the fashion fans and other teams have come accustom to but failed to make the most of their chances in the final third, and Andy Keogh made them pay.

Hopefully they’ve put that out of their minds and refocused this week as they have the short turnaround and welcome Sydney FC to Suncorp Stadium on Friday night. Following the game, Roar coach Mike Mulvey said he was happy with his team’s effort in the opening two weeks and wasn’t worried about the results. If they fail to get anything on Friday night, he may have to be.

Honourable mentions
– Vedran Janjetovic, enough said.
– Zenon Caravella could have thrown his hat on the ball and done better. At least he knows he’s Mario Balotelli’s idol now.

Bonehead
This one is simple. Ben Williams; what on earth is going on with that guy? Nikola Petkovic’s send-off in Sydney FC’s loss to Adelaide in the FFA Cup was mind-boggling and no football fan in the world would consider that a red card. Petkovic now misses the match against the Roar on Friday night unless the Match Review Panel overturns the decision.

Bemusement – Observation of the week
What a league Australia has! After two rounds, last year’s Grand Finalist are propping up the table, both still looking for their first points of the season. Yeah, yeah, it’s only early, but May would feel like a lifetime ago now.

Get involved with the observation of the week by tweeting what catches your eye to @TheFootballSack and using #bylinebanter.

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