An avalanche of goals but still some clean sheets to end the season: The A-League players who were the difference in Round 26


What an entertaining weekend of football to end the regular season, Round 26 had everything; there were 30 goals in six games, with two seven-goal thrillers and Sydney FC who scored seven in one game.

Despite that, Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne City kept a clean sheet.

Check out who made the difference for their respective teams.

Brisbane Roar

Thomas Waddingham breathed life into the game; the young prospect got the Roar back into the contest by scoring a crafty goal with a striker’s finish just nine minutes after being substituted on.

The 19-year-old is a player with plenty of hype surrounding him and the poacher proved why, as he made the deficit for the Roar two goals in the 78th minute.

The striker hit the bar with a header from a pinpoint cross by Jay O’Shea, which would’ve made the score 4-all in the 86th minute, which nearly resulted in the Roar getting something out of the game.

Adelaide United

Panashe Madanha did what Nestory Irankunda failed to do: get the better of Antonee Burke-Gilroy.

The 19-year-old provided an assist in the same minute that he came off the bench, getting the better of Burke-Gilroy and putting it on a plate for Stefan Mauk, which made the score 3-1 in favour of the Reds in the 64th minute.

Just ten minutes later Madanha helped give Adelaide United a three-goal lead, with an assist for Harry Van der Saag, which proved to be an important goal in the context of the game in the 74th minute, given the Reds hung on for a 4-3 win.

That cut-back ????‍???? And a classy finish ????

Panashe Madanha beautifully sets-up Stefan Mauk to extend @AdelaideUnited‘s lead at Suncorp Stadium!

???? Catch the action live on Paramount+

???? More details: #BRIvADL

— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) April 26, 2024

Newcastle Jets

Clayton Taylor displayed his potential for the Jets as the young prospect provided the assist with a pinpoint cross

It resulted in the ball being headed into the back of the net by Apostolos Stamatelopoulos, which made the score 1-all in the 47th minute.

The 20-year-old was perceptive: “We certainly had our chances. I think it’s been a pretty good breakout season for me.”

Central Coast Mariners

Harrison Steele came on as a substitute and made an impact 11 minutes after coming on the pitch.

The 21-year-old scored a deflected goal from outside the box that gave the Mariners the impetus to go on and win the game with a goal in the 82nd minute, which made the score 2-1 in their favour.

The midfielder summed it up well: “It’s an unbelievable feeling to come on and get that goal is just extraordinary.”

Wellington Phoenix

Ben Old had a great game for the Phoenix.

The 21-year-old provided the assist for the second goal of the game scored by Tim Payne, as Old put it on a plate with a cross beyond the back post, which Payne headed into the net.

Along with that, Old created four chances and made a forward run that led to Oskar Zawada being awarded a penalty in the 90th minute.

The Polish substitute scored from the penalty spot to make the score 3-nil in favour of the Phoenix in the 92nd minute.

Macarthur FC

Daniel De Silva came on as a substitute for the Bulls at halftime and altered the balance of play to be in favour of his team after the Phoenix dominating the first half.

The 27-year-old helped Macarthur FC control the tempo of the game, unfortunately to no avail, but they can’t take plenty of confidence from their second-half display.

Daniel Arzani, he wears a magic hat ???? #MVCvWSW

— Melbourne Victory (@gomvfc) April 27, 2024

Melbourne Victory

Daniel Arzani scored a brace; the 25-year-old made the score 2-nil in favour of Victory in the 15th minute and gave the Victory a 3-2 lead with his second goal coming in the 55th minute.

Arzani’s comments: “I think we would’ve loved to have won. We really wanted to honour Broxy’s legacy. I honestly do not think there’s a better team coming to the finals than us.”

Western Sydney Wanderers

Oscar Priestman gave the Wanderers a 4-3 lead in the 87th minute, which gave them the three points.

His general play was great as well, given he passed the ball around accurately and made nine passes into the final third.

The 21-year-old was perceptive: “It’s great to get the result. It showed good character to come back.”

Sydney FC

Joe Lolley was outstanding for the Sky Blues; the Englishman made the score 2-nil in the 41st minute following up a shot from Jaiden Kucharski that was saved by Oliver Sail.

Glory still had some hope at 3-1 with a goal scored by Golden Boot winner Adam Taggart in the 58th minute, which Joe Lolley helped extinguish with a shot that was saved by Sail and resulted in Robert Mak scoring from the rebound in the 68th minute.

They’ve equaled their biggest every victory, and Joe Lolley gets a brace out of it!@SydneyFC leads @PerthGloryFC, 7-1.
Watch the #SYDvPER highlights and replay on 10 Play!

— 10 Football (@10FootballAU) April 28, 2024

To put icing on the cake; Lolley scored the Sky Blues’ seventh goal in the 91st minute with a shot that was meant to be a cross!

Along with that, Lolley had six shots on target and created three chances.

The 31-year-old was level-headed: “I always expect myself to get goals and assists and thankfully I got that today. We were still sloppy in moments.”

Perth Glory

Oliver Sail had his work cut out for him; The Kiwi international made 15 saves, which is incredible, with plenty of them difficult to prevent from ending up in the back of the net, especially with a hapless defence.

The Sky Blues would’ve scored at least ten goals if not for the intervention of Sail.

Melbourne City

Jamie Young was the difference between the two teams as he was forced into some unbelievable saves.

He made five saves in all and was up for the fight against his former team, Western United.

Young was philosophical: “We got to keep showing the courage to play with the ball and be a bit more disciplined without the ball. You have to give us credit; there was pressure in this game.

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Western United

Matthew Grimaldi proved that he’s a player with plenty of potential and scope for growth.

The 20-year-old put the ball on a plate for Riku Danzaki in the 70th minute, with a pinpoint cross, only for Danzaki to be denied a headed goal due to a miraculous save from Jamie Young.

There’s no disputing Grimaldi is a player to look out for in the future.

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