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A-League winners and losers: Corica proves critics wrong, same old Central Coast and Wellington

01:31 GMT 05/11/2018
Steve Corica Mike Mulvey
Several teams returned to winning or losing habits during an eventual round three of the A-League

Away teams proved the king, minus Brisbane in Perth, as several sides were dealt a reality check early into the A-League season.

Craig Goodwin showed why he is the best player in the league while it was business as usual at Sydney FC in an ominous sign for the rest of the competition.

Here's who won and lost during the third round of the A-League...

  • Steve Corica Sydney FC 2018

    Winner: Steve Corica

    Critics of new Sydney FC coach Steve Corica have been circling since he was appointed Graham Arnold's replacement - but the 45-year-old has had superb start to life as a first team manager.

    While the Sky Blues did lose the FFA Cup final mid-week, most teams would have struggled to handle the form of Adelaide United gun Craig Goodwin and Corica's men were only inches away from sending the game into extra time.

    However in the A-League, the Sky Blues look to be among the title favourites with two brilliant performances against Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City in an unbeaten start to the season.

    Aside from Siem de Jong and his injury worries, the new additions to Corica's team have integrated seamlessly, with Adam Le Fondre scoring seven goals in six matches and Jop van der Linden an absolute beast at the back.

    Corica seems to be getting more out of 35-year-old veteran Alex Brosque, while the development of midfielder Paulo Retre appears to be accelerating.

  • Matt Simon Central Coast Mariners

    Loser: Central Coast Mariners

    Whan an absolutely insipid performance in front of their own fans.

    The Mariners were 2-0 down after 16 minutes and were second-best throughout the 90 minutes against an Adelaide team who had played in the FFA Cup final mid week.

    Every time the Reds swept the ball forward they looked like they were going to score, while the Mariners lacked creativity, cutting edge, final ball and finishing in their own attacks.

    Matt Simon is likely a great leader on and off the pitch but he is certainly not performing in front of goal and hasn't for a number of seasons.

    The 32-year-old has only scored 10 goals in his last 102 A-League appearances and if he continues to score one goal in every 10 matches, the Mariners are going to finish in the lower reaches of the table once again.

  • Craig Goodwin

    Winner: Craig Goodwin

    How close must he be to Socceroos selection?

    The flying winger has scored an incredible eight goals in seven competitive matches this season as his purple patch rolls on since returning to Adelaide United from a stint in Europe.

    His confidence is sky high, looking to attack the goal with shots at every opportunity, but also providing goals like the superb assist for young teammate Apostolos Stamatelopoulos.

    The lack of quality Australian wingers and the injury to Daniel Arzani means Goodwin will likely get an opportunity in Graham Arnold's next Socceroos squad for the friendlies against South Korea and Lebanon.

    And doesn't he deserve it.

  • Warren Joyce Melbourne City

    Loser: Melbourne City

    The cashed-up mob from Melbourne have always promised so much, but failed to deliver when it counts - and their start to the season will be worrying many associated with the club.

    Friday night's 3-0 at home loss against Sydney FC was a poor performance, devoid of creativity, invention and defending when it mattered.

    It followed nicking a 1-1 draw at Central Coast Mariners, who showed against Adelaide they are still not yet gelled under Mike Mulvey, and a win in the Melbourne derby that they were second best in for long periods.

    There seems to be a lack of creative play in the City front third, with their attacks mainly restricted to slow build-up and the full backs whipping crosses in from deep.

    Bruno Fornaroli cut a frustrated figure up with the lack of service and ball being played to him in dangerous positions.

    It appears the loss of Daniel Arzani with his unpredictability has hurt City more than we thought.

    We might be seeing more of wily youngsters Lachlan Wales and Nathaniel Atkinson in the near future.

  • Western Sydney Wanderers Wellington Phoenix

    Winner: Wanderers minus Babbel

    Without a win in their first two matches including a horrible effort in the Sydney derby, the Wanderers match against Wellington, missing their suspended coach Markus Babbel, was a crucial match in the direction of their season.

    And what an emphatic road victory it was, defeating the previously impressive Wellington 3-0 at the Cake Tin in the flawless away performance.

    The changes made by Babbel and temporary coach JP De-Marigny worked perfectly, with Jordan O'Doherty excelling and providing more attacking flair than Rashid Mahazi, while Bruce Kamau's unpredictability and composure shone instead of Jaushua Sotirio.

    Alexander Baumjohann's reputation in the league continued to grow with another quality display capped off with a goal and plenty of exciting moments.

    While their defence still looks weak without import Patrick Ziegler, the midfield and attack seem to be coming together for Western Sydney as the season develops.

  • Wellington Phoenix fans

    Loser: Two-faced Wellington Phoenix

    There always comes a point in Wellington's season over the last six years where critics believe they have turned a corner before they crash and burn to finish in the lower reaches of the A-League table - 2014-15 excepted.

    Many were excited at the start made by the club under new coach Mark Rudan, with an impressive victory over Newcastle and a stoic draw on the road against Brisbane, but the 3-0 drubbing on their own patch by Western Sydney Wanderers was an all too familiar result.

    It was a surprise to see Rudan move away from the team lineup that had performed so well in the opening two matches, with Mitch Nichols and Max Burgess coming in for talented youngster Sarpreet Singh and David Williams., while former Johnny Warren medallist Nathan Burns still hasn't started a league game.

    The changes in attack didn't work and star striker Roy Krishna was left to forage up top isolated for much of the match.

    We will learn a lot about Wellington in their next match away against Melbourne City on Friday night.

    While they don't absolutely need to win, an improvement in performance is essential to keep the feeling of positivity going at the club and avoid tumbling down the A-League ladder.