Babbel switch pays off

Markus Babbel was encouraged by Western Sydney's second-half display as they earned their first away win since early November by beating Adelaide United 3-1.

Wanderers opened the scoring through Oriol Riera early on, but when Ryan Kitto equalised just before the break the coach felt he needed to make a change.

It paid off as goals from Roly Bonevacia and Abraham Majok secured the victory at Coopers Stadium.

Babbel, who saw keeper Vedran Janjetovic save Craig Goodwin's penalty in the first half, said he'd been concerned at what he'd seen after the opening spell.

"We were not playing the way we wanted to," added the coach. "We started quite well for 10-15 minutes but then the pressure was always higher and higher … we were tactically doing the wrong things.

"I said to them we drop with our sixes too deep, we were nearly in a line with them and then they had no pressure in midfield … Oriol and Roly … had no help from our midfield, so we changed things a bit and it looked much better in the second half."

Whether his team can go on and challenge for a Finals Series spot remains to be seen, but Babbel said the players would gain confidence from back-to-back victories – they beat bottom side Central Coast last week.

"We want to get results this is also fair play to the other teams … now we want to have competition on the pitch and we want to try to get a result," added the German coach. "There's so many games to go and we want to improve."

Western Sydney are 11/4 to win their next game against Perth Glory, who are 10/11 with the draw 11/4.

Wanderers are 14/1 to win 1-0.

View all Soccer betting

Wanderers spring Reds surprise

Western Sydney made it back-to-back wins for the first time this season when they upset Adelaide United 3-1 at Coopers Stadium.

Wanderers opened up a 10-point gap above bottom side Central Coast Mariners, who they beat last time out.

They were inspired by Dutchman Roly Bonevacia, who set up their first goal for Oriol Riera and restored their advantage after Ryan Kitto had levelled.

Adelaide saw Craig Goodwin fail from the penalty spot, with keeper Vedran Janjetovic making a good save.

Riera stooped to head home Bonevacia's free-kick and give the visitors the lead on 12 minutes, while four minutes later Janjetovic kept them in front with the penalty stop.

The Reds missed that chance to equalise, with the penalty having been given for Brendan Hamill's trip on Jordy Thomassen, but a minute before the break Kitto made it 1-1.

He lashed home after Janjetovic came to punch Michael Jakobsen's lofted ball into the box.

Bonevacia had a slice of luck for his goal, with the ball taking a big deflection off Ryan Strain and leaving keeper Paul Izzo wrong-footed.

He claimed his second assist of the match 19 minutes from time, lifting a clever pass in for Abraham Majok to lob the onrushing Izzo.

It's the first time since February 2018 Wanderers have won consecutive matches, but their chances of rallying to make the Finals Series are slim – they are 12 points behind sixth-placed Wellington, with eight rounds to go.

The damage was done over a 10-game spell starting in mid-December when they picked up just two points.

Adelaide are 6/4 to win their next game against Newcastle, who are 7/4 with the draw 23/10.

The Reds are 17/2 to win 1-0.

View all Soccer betting

Baccus inks long-term Wanderers deal

Midfielder Keanu Baccus has signed a new deal with Western Sydney that will take him through to the end of the 2021/22 season.

The South African-born player has started eight games this season for Markus Babbel's side, and scored one of the goals in their 3-2 defeat to Wellington Phoenix last month.

He came through the club's academy and was co-captain of Wanderers' youth team before signing his first senior deal in 2017.

The 20-year-old, who was voted Western Sydney's Y-League Player of the Year in 2017, was set to come out of contract at the end of this season.

He said he was humbled by the chance to spend another three years with Wanderers.

"Growing up in Western Sydney, the Wanderers are my hometown team and there's no better feeling for me than getting onto the pitch and representing where you have come from," added the Australia U-23 international.

Club CEO John Tsatsimas said: "This is an exciting signing for the club and another example of the youth of Western Sydney coming through the Academy program and representing the region at an elite level."

Wanderers travel to Adelaide United on Saturday looking for just their third league win away to the Reds since they entered the A-League.

Babbel's side will be searching for back-to-back wins in the A-League for the first time since February 2018, following their 2-0 success against bottom side Central Coast Mariners.

That was a victory that took them seven points clear of the Gosford club and up to eighth in the table, though they are still 14 points off the Finals Series places.

Wanderers are 15/4 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 4/6 with the draw 3/1.

View all Soccer betting

Maclaren takes positives from City bow

A goal on his starting return to the A-League delighted Melbourne City striker Jamie Maclaren.

The Australia international was brought in for his bow alongside Tottenham Hotspur loanee Shayon Harrison in City's 1-1 draw at home to Adelaide United.

Maclaren scored with a close-range backheel to cancel out Craig Goodwin's header for United.

It came when Luke Brattan capitalised on a tired Adelaide clearance, forcing a turnover from keeper Paul Izzo and delivering a low cross that Maclaren converted.

The striker said it had been a dream start, adding: "It was a great ball from Brattsy; obviously scoring is great and it's been a tough week for us. To score in front of my family is amazing.

"It was a bit nitty gritty but my job was to press hard and try to force mistakes, there are positives to take from it."

Coach Warren Joyce felt City had started slowly but then worked their way into the game and created good chances.

"We've played well the past few weeks and often got no points, but Shay (Harrison) did well, a good performance from (Maclaren), he's had a lot of jet lag and had to integrate into a new group, so they've done brilliantly," he said.

City missed the chance to leapfrog United into the top four. But they were at least able to maintain their two-point gap, having lost their previous two games against Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC without scoring.

They now have a spell of four away games out of five rounds, including the Melbourne derby against Victory on 23rd February.

Melbourne City are 9/1 to win the Grand Final.

Adelaide United are 8/13 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 4/1 with the draw 3/1.

View all Soccer betting

Kurz frustrated by Reds’ display

Marco Kurz says Adelaide United failed to follow his instructions in the second half when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Melbourne City.

The Reds coach was happy with what he saw from his team in the first half-hour at AAMI Park, and they took the lead through Craig Goodwin's header.

Had they heeded the coach's half-time advice, they may well have held on to earn a win that would moved them to within three points of third-placed Sydney FC.

But Adelaide conceded a goal to new City signing Jamie Maclaren, being punished for their inability to play out from the back.

Kurz said he felt the draw was a fair result, but added: "I think in the second-half we played not so well and not good enough for the victory. I think we started well and played well for first 30 minutes and then we lost a little bit of the control of the game but we scored a goal.

"At half-time we said we must look forward and play the ball to our offensive players, but it was completely different, we played more back."

The draw kept United inside the top four with nine games left in the regular season, and if they can remain there they will have a home game in the Finals Series.

Kurz gave Dutch recruit Jordy Thomassen his debut and saw him play the full 90 minutes.

"At this point the performance was okay, I think he has enough space to improve again and to adapt but he's a good person," said the coach. "And I hope he can give us a lot of quality in the future."

United have now suffered just one defeat in 10 matches, and the draw extended their unbeaten run to five games.

Adelaide are 12/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Reds are 8/13 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 4/1 with the draw 3/1.

View all Soccer betting

Wanderers end victory wait

Western Sydney earned their first win in two months as they scored in each half to beat Central Coast 2-0 at Spotless Stadium.

The meeting between the A-League's bottom two teams went the way of Markus Babbel's side by the same scoreline as their last victory on 7th December.

And it leaves the Mariners in increasing danger of finishing bottom of the table for the second straight season.

The Gosford club have a six-point deficit at the foot of the table, having failed to take any of their chances against Wanderers and having fallen to a ninth straight away defeat.

The clean sheet was a welcome boost for Babbel's team, who had conceded 11 goals in their last three games.

Mariners keeper Ben Kennedy made a diving save to deny Oriol Riera midway through the first half, and the Spaniard was out of luck again at the end of the half when he headed against the post from close range.

Wanderers did take the lead just before the interval, though, as Tarek Elrich sent in a curling cross which eluded everyone including Kennedy as it bounced off the woodwork and into the net.

It was the 32-year-old's first goal in Wanderers colours and first in two years.

The Mariners threatened an equaliser on 56 minutes when Matt Millar had a volley tipped over by keeper Vedran Janjetovic.

Once they doubled their lead 13 minutes from time, though, the hosts looked secure.

It arrived when Roly Bonevacia put Jaushua Sotirio into space on the counter, and the attacker finished coolly to Kennedy's left.

Wanderers lost Kwame Yeboa to a suspected groin injury early in the first half.

Western Sydney are 4/1 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 8/13 with the draw 3/1.

Wanderers are 16/1 to win 1-0.

View all Soccer betting

Roar complete two signings

Brisbane Roar have bolstered their squad with the signings of Charles Lokolingoy and Ruon Tongyik for the rest of the season.

The Roar have signed the duo as free agents after they had been released by Sydney FC and Western Sydney respectively last month.

Lokolingoy helped the Sky Blues win the A-League Premier's Plate last season, making seven appearances off the bench.
Tongyik has now been with four different A-League clubs in less than four years.

The African-born pair are in line to make their Roar debuts in Friday's game against Sydney FC.

Lokolingoy, who made 13 league appearances overall for the Sky Blues, said: "Brisbane Roar has a great history and is one of the biggest clubs in Australia. I want to help the team, score goals, and I'm really looking forward to the challenge."

The striker netted 34 goals in 42 games for Sydney FC in the NPL before making the senior squad.

Tongyik started his A-League career with Adelaide United and then made 15 appearances across two seasons at Melbourne City.

He signed for Western Sydney before the start of this season but had only been used twice by Wanderers coach Markus Babbel before leaving by mutual consent.

The Australia U23 international said: "I'm very excited to have signed for the Roar. I am here to create depth in our squad and I can't wait to get out onto Suncorp Stadium and play in front of our fans."

Interim head coach Darren Davies, who didn't make any signings during the transfer window, welcomed the pair to his squad.

"I'm confident that they will not only add competition for places in our squad, but make a positive contribution to our team over the coming weeks and months," he said.

The Roar are next to bottom in the table, with just one win from 17 games.

Brisbane are 17/4 to win their next game against Sydney FC, who are 4/7 with the draw 3/1.

The Roar are 6/1 to win by a one-goal margin.

View all Soccer betting

Babbel tipped to continue

Former captain Robbie Cornthwaite believes Western Sydney will keep faith in coach Markus Babbel, despite being almost certain to miss out on the Finals Series.

Wanderers have lost eight of their last 10 games and have only two victories from their 17 games overall.

There are still 10 rounds to go, but Babbel's side would need to make up a 16-point gap on sixth-placed Wellington Phoenix as well as overturn a big deficit in their goal difference.

Cornthwaite, who skippered the side in the previous two seasons, sees the Finals Series as being out of reach but doesn't expect the club to make a "big shock decision" to sack Babbel.

"I think Babbel will have at least until the end of the season, when the club will then reassess things," he said. "You've got the new stadium to come and I'd expect him to be looking at which players to keep and which to let go of.

"It's valid to say that the squad isn't what he wants, since he didn't put it together, although he did add some players."

Cornthwaite, who played seven times for the Socceroos, believes the club's owners will assess Babbel over the final games of the season now that he's strengthened his squad by bringing in Mitch Duke and Kwame Yeboah.

"They'll see if Markus wants to stay, what he thinks about the new season and what players he wants to bring in," he added.

Wanderers' only successes this season have come away to Wellington Phoenix in round 3 and at home to Central Coast in round 7.

They are not yet clear of wooden spoon danger, as bottom side Central Coast are only four points behind them.

Western Sydney are 4/6 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 15/4 with the draw 3/1. Wanderers are 9/1 to win 1-0.

Merrick: Jets have threatened big haul

Coach Ernie Merrick felt Newcastle Jets were overdue a big score, after they thrashed Western Sydney 5-1 at ANZ Stadium.

The former Melbourne Victory coach has faith Newcastle can still make the Finals Series, despite a big gap having opened up between them and the top six.

Going into this round, the seventh-placed Jets had been 11 points adrift Wellington Phoenix, and with a significantly worse goal difference.

The complexion of the mid-table positions has altered in the space of around 28 hours, though.

Merrick's team suddenly look a lot more of a threat after they boosted their own goal difference by four and the Phoenix lost 3-0 at Perth Glory.

The Jets coach was delighted particularly with the way his team finished off their chances against struggling Wanderers.

"We'd been threatening to score a number of goals; we've been getting into that front third, we've had more opportunities and shots than every other team in the league and today it went well for us," said Merrick.

"I think the players were really impressed with that result, we were exhausted at the end, as I said we've played six games and only one at home so the boys are pretty tired…I think they'll feel a lot better in themselves and their belief."

Western Sydney may be only two places off the top six, but it looks a lost cause now as they trail the Phoenix by 16 points with ten rounds remaining.

Merrick, though, described them as a good team and felt the overall game was a lot closer than the scoreline indicated.

"I honestly don't think there's much difference between the bottom teams and the top teams," he said.

Newcastle are 3/4 to win their next game against Wellington Phoenix, who are 10/3 with the draw 11/4.

View all Soccer betting

Babbel: Players stopped thinking

Coach Markus Babbel has warned his under-performing Western Sydney players that they are "playing for their future" after a 5-1 home thrashing by Newcastle Jets.

It was Wanderers sixth consecutive home defeat, with Babbel's side trailing 3-0 by half-time.

The German says the team weren't following his instructions in the match.

"The first 10-20 minutes we started well, but then, and I'm not sure why, we forgot the game plan," he added.

"If they stop thinking, then you get a result like this."

Babbel wasn't holding back the punches after the defeat, which leaves Western Sydney 16 points off the top six with ten games left.

It was their worst defeat of the campaign, but the coach questioned how much the players had invested in the outcome, saying they were "a different generation."

"They're not like us, when we played; if I lost 5-1 I would be upset for the entire week," he added. "With them, five minutes and then it's normal life.

"If we go into next season with the same team, I can't believe. They are playing for their futures, here or elsewhere."

Wanderers have now gone ten games without a win, and their lone highlight from the match came when new signing Mitchell Duke scored just after coming on as a substitute.

Three of the players who featured against the Jets come off-contract at the end of the season, including captain Brendan Hamill.

Imports Oriol Riera, Alex Baumjohann and Raul Llorente are also without deals.

Babbel saw his side let a two-goal lead slip in the final eight minutes of their previous game, when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Brisbane Roar.

But that is the only point they have picked up eight games and they are still in danger of finishing bottom of the league.

Meanwhile, Sydney FC are 19/20 to take care of Melbourne City on Sunday. The visitors are 3/1 while the draw is 5/2.

View all Soccer betting