PLAY IT SHORT: A-League fall-out


Ian Ferguson has to be happy with his three winter signings after the win at Melbourne Heart. Liam Miller and Billy Mehmet had a hand in each of Shane Smeltz's double. Mehmet won't get the plaudits, but with the game at 1-1, it was his drive to chase down a lost cause that gave Smeltz the chance to win it for Glory.

Greeted by sack talk in the Melbourne morning press, no wonder Fergie was beaming in the post-match.

The lad James Brown has got something. Since seeing him in a finals cameo, Brown's always suggested that he could be more than your run-of-the-mill A-League player. Yeah, he needs that consistency across 90', but two goals in two games - and what a couple of goals they've been - should end any self-doubt that he belongs on this stage. Almost 6ft, quick feet and with pace, he has a lot going for him. Glen Moss says he's a natural leader. Well worth following this season.

They're barely in the league for a year, but I'd say at this moment, Melbourne Heart are better equipped to handle a derby defeat than Melbourne Victory. If history repeats, you just wonder which way people at Victory will jump should they lose on Saturday. A new board, rookie coach, high-priced recruit and a philosopher off the tele ... who has the experience to guide the club to winning ways? Sure, Heart are uninspiring at the minute, but they have to fancy themselves against a Victory defence without the suspended Leijer.

Kewell needs a goal - or two. Not for himself. Not even for Victory. We really need Kewell to start hitting the back of the net to maintain the momentum after the first two weeks of the season. 40k against Sydney, a sell-out in Adelaide and 50k-plus for the derby. The next game is at Wellington Phoenix. Kewell is threatening to prove a bigger draw than Dwight Yorke. Yorkie was fantastic for opposition clubs, but the Sydney fans did not fill the home ground like Melbourne's support are doing. Kewell is promising to do both - but we need a couple of goals to convince those outside of Melbourne that he's worth seeing in the flesh.

Enough with the excuses. If Aussie football is to be regarded as genuinely mainstream, we need to accept, identify and eliminate any crowd thuggery that occurs inside stadiums. Good on Adelaide for not making any wishy-washy excuses about flares, etc after Friday's incidents. Flares were thrown and a female photographer was allegedly struck. Aussie football needs to recognise it doesn't matter if it's two 'fans', 20 or 200 ... the reality is these incidents are going to be played up in the popular media. The game must realise when it comes to crowd behaviour it actually has to be BETTER than rival sports - not the same, or slightly worse. Only then will we get good press. That's the sporting reality the game is living in here in Oz.

Tough break for Aussie winger Ryan Williams with manager Steve Cotterill leaving Pompey for Forest last week. Just 17, Williams has been a regular for Cotterill's first team this season and is being tipped for big things. Now he'll have to start again with the new gaffer. Ryan is the kid brother of Middlesbrough's Aussie international Rhys Williams. Twin brother Aryn is at Burnley. Not bad for a family all the way from Perth!

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