The Roar’s A-League Men tips and predictions: Round 22


After a brief hiatus, the A-League Men is back with eight matches across six days in what looks to be a pivotal period for tipsters.

There will be an incredible sense of desperation when the Reds host Western United on Friday night, Melbourne City will be looking to chalk up another win against the Jets on Saturday, before the Sky Blues and Mariners go head to head in the match of the round.

Wellington meet Brisbane early Easter Sunday, before Melbourne Victory host Perth to round out the weekend. Macarthur are at home against the Wanderers on Monday, Central Coast face Melbourne City the following day and Perth will look to pinch the points against Sydney in the west on Wednesday.

It is a busy week ahead. Good luck with your selections for the matches and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to pit your wits against the experts in the Roar of the crowd.

Here is the way the panel sees all of the action unfolding across the eight matches.

Texi Smith

Adelaide, City, Sydney, Brisbane, Victory, Western Sydney, City, Sydney

Adelaide United take on Western United, who will be upset that the international break interrupted their run of form, which brought them back from the dead to be within touching distance of the pack. A public holiday under lights at Coopers Stadium, yes please, and we’ll see Adelaide put Western United to the sword in a somewhat unexpected thrashing.

Melbourne City haven’t played in so long, and that was a comprehensive dismantling of Western Sydney Wanderers.

Do not scratch your eyes…

Terry Antonis scores from inside the centre circle!!!! ????????

???? @10FootballAU | #MCYvWSW | ???? 7-0 ????

— Melbourne City FC (@MelbourneCity) March 12, 2024

The Jets were beaten last time out and come into this one with little chance of denting City’s finals surge. Having said that, Trent Buhagiar will sting the palms of Jamie Young early on and Newcastle will be in City’s faces from the off. Just as the visiting side are contemplating going in for the kill, a miskicked shot from Tolgay Arslan takes a deflection and loops into the net for the 1-0 lead.

That’s the sort of luck that winning teams create, and from then on, it’s one-way traffic, Steven Ugarkovic blasting a second just before the break.

The game of the round is at Allianz Stadium, as Sydney FC look to bounce back after an unfortunate defeat in New Zealand. The Mariners have been on fire, but that was a long time ago when they smashed Macarthur FC on their own patch. This will be an absolute A-League classic.

Sydney FC will come out firing, just like we saw earlier in the season at Central Coast Stadium. Joe Lolley strikes early and the home team are dominant before Josh Nisbet breaks away to equalise with the Mariners’ first chance on goal. Angel Torres ties the Sydney defence up in knots to make it 2-1 at half-time, but the second half sees Anthony Caceres equalise immediately before Luke Brattan feeds Fabio Gomes to race through for the winner.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

End-to-end stuff for the final fifteen minutes can’t yield a dramatic equaliser, and Sydney enjoy an important victory to help them maintain their finals aspirations.

A morning game, at least in Australia, sees Wellington Phoenix host Brisbane Roar while the rest of us are justifying our morning chocolate consumption. Ben Old strikes early for the hosts as they look to grind their opponents into submission, but Brisbane fight back just before half-time with a Marco Rojas screamer.

The Roar defence lives a charmed life until Tom Waddingham rises to bullet a header home to give the Roar a shock lead and the Cake Tin is silenced. A late penalty from Alex Rufer is saved by Macklin Freke and Roar send a big message to the rest of the A-League that nothing is decided until the final round; the wheels look to have come off at Wellington at just the wrong time.

Perth Glory travel to Melbourne Victory for an early 3pm kick-off on Sunday, and they will be eager to right the wrongs of the poor defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers last time out. Victory themselves couldn’t hold onto the lead against Western United, and they now look upon their once proud, long-standing unbeaten record which shows way too many draws to be a realistic chance of winning the premiership.

The opportunity to close the gap though will be taken with both hands, Zinedine Machach continuing his rich form to score early, and Daniel Arzani making it two before the break. Chris Ikonomidis comes off the bench to make it three just as Glory are rousing, but they do rouse, Adam Taggart pulling a goal back immediately on the break. A second goal from Daniel Bennie makes the last ten minutes extra nervy for the home team, but they hold on for the points.

Adam Taggart celebrates a goal for Perth Glory. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

Macarthur FC are looking to consolidate their handsome position in the table with another good win, while the Wanderers stopped the rot last time out in Perth to earn Marko Rudan a less uncomfortable international break. Expect a huge crowd in Campbelltown and a five-star performance from the visitors.

Lachlan Brook terrorises the Macarthur defence, scoring one and setting up another, and after the break, old spaghetti-legs Nicolas Milanovic makes it three. The home team look laboured and frustrated, Valere Germain walking a red-card tightrope. Ulises Davila sets up perennial substitute Lachie Rose to make the final five minutes interesting, but the game is beyond the home team and the visiting Wanderers bank the points to climb back into the top six.

Tuesday night has an exciting match-up between Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne City. The home team need the points to return to the top of the pile, but Melbourne City are on their own finals journey and will see this as a must-win. What a prospect, and what a first half, as Agent 99 Ryan Edmondson scores on twenty minutes, only for Brian Kaltack to slice the ball into his own net a minute later.

That edge that Melbourne City have, that knowledge of how to win the big games when it matters, sees Marin Jakolis sliding in at the far post to make it 2-1, and a second-half siege is halted when Jamie Maclaren smashes home a rebound as City go on the counter attack. A wonderful advert for the A-League; alas for the home fans, it ends in a disastrous defeat.

The Glory revival that had us all believing at the turn of the year has evaporated, and points are hard to come by in the race to avoid the Australia Cup play-offs and the unwanted wooden spoon. This one will be all about the Sydney defence.

Jack Rodwell comes in for a rare start and Max Burgess is returned to the eleven in an unusual looking Sydney team, but it becomes obvious that their tactic is to frustrate Glory and nullify their threat up front, while relying on that piece of individual magic to get them a goal on the break.

And that’s exactly how it transpires, after a niggly first half and a second half that sees Glory winding up for a big finish, Jaiden Kucharski runs the length of the field to fire a shot into the roof of the net to break Perth hearts. An absolute masterclass in football chess by Ufuk Talay and a bemused Alen Stajcic is left scratching his head as to how that just happened.

Stuart Thomas

United, City, Central Coast, Wellington, Victory, Macarthur, Central Coast, Perth

Does one give Adelaide another chance despite a recent win? No, I’m done with them and Western are starting to build into the season when it all appears a little too late. City will beat the Jets well. They are starting to emerge as title contenders.

Sydney FC and Central Coast looks to be a cracker, yet the Sky Blues do rely on a few far too heavily. I think the team-orientated Mariners can get the job done on the road. I don’t think the break will negatively affect the Phoenix and Brisbane away is not something to believe in that often.

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Perth could beat Melbourne Victory in Melbourne yet it is hard to tip against the home side at AAMI Park, the same can be said of the Bulls in the newest Sydney Derby. Wanderers are still not the team some thought they were and Macarthur just keeps finding the answers.

Central Coast at home in front of a big crowd on Tuesday night will be a ripping affair. The locals are tough to beat there and City will not able to combat the second-half blitz from the Mariners. Perth can beat Sydney in the west on Wednesday, especially if the fans get out in support. Another loss for the Sky Blues leaves their season on a knife edge.

Andrew Prentice

Adelaide, City, Central Coast, Wellington, Victory, Western Sydney, Central Coast, Sydney

It’s a huge week in the A-League Men’s after the international break, with eight games to trip us up on. It all starts on Friday night at Hindmarsh, where the home team finally put it together for a win. There’s so much quality and excitement in this Reds side, it’s a mystery worthy of Raymond Chandler why they have performed so terribly in the last 8 weeks.

Western’s recent resurgence is not so hard to figure out – Daniel Penha has been outstanding (dodgy goal celebrations notwithstanding). It might be up to Stefan Mauk to do a “niggle job” on Penha. If he can, Adelaide will win.

City’s mini-revival should continue on Saturday afternoon against a Jets side who are sadly experiencing off-field woes not unfamiliar to the loyal Newcastle fans. Speculation about the club’s future can’t be a great preparation recipe, and with City well-rested after an 18-day break since their demolition job of the Wanderers, Tolgay Arslan, Marco Tilio and co. may be ready for another goal feast.

What a game Saturday night’s prime-time showdown promises to be. The original grand finalists, with the Mariners irrepressible in league and AFC Cup of late. Ironically, the last time the Mariners dropped points was to their hosts in Round 16. They’ll be hell-bent on putting that right.

Josh Nisbet will take pride in his Socceroos debut and his 25-minute cameo won’t have touched the sides of the huge engine he has. Sydney let a lead slip against leaders Wellington last start and need the points to hold onto their play-off spot. A loss here might see them fall out of the six, and with the Mariners looking the goods again, that could be the case come the end of the weekend.

Josh Nisbet, Socceroo no. 642! ????????

Congratulations on making your Socceroos debut, Nizzy! So well deserved! ????????#CCMFC #BeOurMate

— Central Coast Mariners (@CCMariners) March 26, 2024

Wellington are back on top and back at home on Sunday morning AEDT so get the Easter egg hunt out of the way early and let the kids OD on chocolate while you sit back and see if the unlikely story of the Phoenix rise to the premiership can continue. Remember when this club was stranded in Wollongong, unable to get back to NZ because of lockdowns? What an amazing turnaround, which I’m tipping to continue against a Roar side who flatter to deceive.

Has the bubble finally burst for the Glory? Their loss in Round 21 to a bruised and battered Wanderers has almost certainly extinguished their faintly flickering play-off aspirations. Victory will be kicking themselves at another 90th-minute concession for their 114th draw of the season against Western. It was tempting to pick a draw here too but Victory can just about wrap up a finals spot with three points on the last day of March. 2-1 seems like a good bet (think about what you could be buying instead).

Given their respective form guides, things are tilted towards a Bulls victory on Easter Monday at Campbelltown. But the Wanderers are a nemesis, with the hugely exciting and volatile 4-3 win for Macarthur in February a rare ascension over the bigger brother.

Brandon Borello is getting back to his dangerous best and likes scoring in derby games.

Brandon Borrello heads his first goal of the season, and @wswanderersfc take the lead in Perth! ????

And he marked it with a special celebration for his new baby boy Luca ????

Tune in on Paramount+ and 10 BOLD ????#PERvWSW #ALM

— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) March 16, 2024

Ulises Davila has been quiet of late but Macarthur found a way to win without his usual contribution against Brisbane. For a Wanderers win to be considered an upset speaks volumes of the work put in by Mile Sterjovski and his staff. But it’s an upset I’m tipping.

Gosford midweek is a hard place to be for visiting teams. City have been like the perennial table-toppers of yore more recently. The rematch of the 2023 grand final was as spicy as a Brick Lane vindaloo the last time they met.

There will be more of the same on Tuesday as the Mariners pursue Wellington for top spot in the league. They haven’t played in the league since March 10 when they thoroughly dismantled Macarthur, but have been kept busy with an Indian trip in the AFC Cup. Torres and Barcellos look like an electric wide combination, while Josh Nisbet adds the diminutive yet massive conductor role in the middle.

City will be hoping some of their attacking stars like Matt Leckie and Andrew Nabbout can be fit and ready for the challenge on Brisbane Water. The Mariners by one.

Sports opinion delivered daily 


The Indian-Pacific derby rounds off the elongated round (I should patent that). It’s a dangerous job tipping against Perth in the west, but their race may be run. New owners should ensure that next season is a better one for the Glory. It is Sydney who have more business to transact on Wednesday. Robert Mak is back in form, while Joe Lolley has gone quiet. If both of them and Fabio fire, it might be akin to the Alamo for the team from the west’s defence.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.