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A-League winners and losers: A tale of two defenders

03:36 GMT+3 10/12/2018
Jop van der Linden
A mixed weekend for A-League defenders

Another weekend of A-League action has come and gone with the usual highs and lows football thrives off.

From a stellar A-League debut for a German defender to a shocking performance from a Sydney FC centre back, Round 7 delivered plenty of winners and losers.

Read on to see who won and lost...

  • Winner: Patrick Ziegler

    After injury made him wait to get his first taste of A-League action, the new Western Sydney Wanderers defender savoured every second against Central Coast Mariners.

    Despite lacking a bit of match sharpness, Ziegler still managed to command the Wanderers back line and added some serious defensive steel to Babbel's side. 

    With Tarek Elrich filling in at centre back in recent weeks, Western Sydney looked a lot stronger with Ziegler in the middle and Elrich on the left as they kept their first clean sheet since Round 3.

    Babbel was quick to praise his German signing post-match and hinted his best is still some way off.

    “If he’s on the pitch other players feel more comfortable,” Babbel said.

    “Because he has quality and was really hard for us that he was two and a half months out with injury and we missed him.

    “But you see especially he is not fully fit, compliments on him because it was his first game in two and a half months and he did fantastic.”

    Ziegler is also pushing to become an Australian citizen, good news for the Wanderers and even perhaps the Socceroos should he continue to impress - he is just still just 28. 

  • Jop van der Linden

    Loser: Jop van der Linden

    The Dutch defender was exposed a number of times against Wellington Phoenix as Sydney FC were handed a shock loss. 

    Van der Linden has struggled to fill the shoes of the departed Jordy Buijs so far this season and his shortcomings were on full display against the Nix.

    Simply not as athletic or attack-minded as Buijs, the 28 year old has failed to impress for the Sky Blues with John Kosmina admitting his decision making hasn't been up to scratch.

    “He started the season okay, but he’s been off the boil, he’s made some poor decisions in the last few weeks defensively," Kosmina said on Fox Sports’ Sunday Shootout.

    Despite being over 6-feet tall, van der Linden has been taking a number of set-pieces this season and so far his delivery has failed to justify why his height and not his feet isn't being made better use of. 

  • Mark Rudan Wellington Phoenix 2018

    Winner: Mark Rudan

    He might have his name in Sydney FC's Hall of Fame, but Mark Rudan returned to haunt his former side on Saturday as he masterminded a Wellington Phoenix upset.

    Having admitted last week that both his and the club's future would be in question should the Nix continue to struggle, Rudan delivered with a timely victory over the Sky Blues. 

    After dominating Perth Glory at times the match prior in a 1-1 draw, Wellington made the most of a bright start as they put three goals past Sydney in the first 45 minutes.

    Though they'd concede late in the match, the Nix never looked like letting their lead slip and showed they can deliver a few more surprises this season.

    Should Rudan find a suitable marquee in January that can chip in with a few goals, Wellington could well be top-six contenders. 

  • Loser: Returning Socceroos

    After dropping off the radar in recent years, former Socceroos defenders Curtis Good and Matthew Spiranovic made their first starts on the weekend as Perth Glory and Melbourne City faced off.

    The match wouldn't go to plan for either player however with Spiranovic forced off after just half an hour with injury and Curtis Good shown a second yellow in the 80th minute. 

    It was Spiranovic's first taste of senior football in over a year with a hip injury and move to China severely limiting his time on the pitch.

    Reunited with Tony Popovic in Western Australia, the 30 year old will be keen to rediscover his fitness and form with his career far from over. 

    Good on the other hand is still just 25 and desperate to make the most of every minute after a move to Newcastle United saw him make just a handful of appearances each season over the past five years. 

    While his red card against Perth will force him back onto the sidelines, Good looks determined to make an impact at City and will be one to keep an eye on this season. 

  • Jair Newcastle Jets

    Winner: Jets' new signings

    Roy O'Donovan's suspension has loomed large over Newcastle so far this season with a lack of goals doing Ernie Merrick's men no favours.

    Against a Brisbane Roar side also without their preferred striker, the Jets finally found a way to fire in front of goal as two of their new signings stepped up.

    First it was Kaine Sheppard with the NPL product striking just before half-time, before Brazilian Jair ended a 14-month goal drought with a clinical finish on the counter.

    Both attackers have been in and out of the Jets squad to start the season and did their hopes of regular starts no harm with vital strikes.

    For a squad built around their attack, Merrick will be breathing a sigh of relief to see two of his new signings find their shooting boots. 

  • Mike Mulvey Central Coast Mariners

    Loser: Mike Mulvey

    The Mariners wait for their first win of the season goes on after a fairly routine 2-0 loss to the Wanderers on Friday.

    Mulvey arrived in Gosford promising to restore some belief in the club, but this start has done the exact opposite and there's no reprieve in sight.

    Key signing Ross McCormack looks set for a spell on the sidelines with the Mariners currently boasting the worst attack and defence in the A-League after seven rounds. 

    Though he will be given time to settle on the Central Coast, Mulvey must find a win sooner rather than later with next weekend's trip to Wellington taking on a different complexion after they upset Sydney FC.

    Following that the Mariners host the Jets in the first F3 derby of the season - a match that could well seal Mulvey's fate should the result again go against him.