Melbourne Victory 1 - Brisbane Roar 0
When people suggest that 0-0 or 1-0 scoreline is somehow boring, they to miss the rather obvious fact that matches like this tend to swing on the smallest of points. Quite unlike the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, we sometimes see the finest of differences settle the argument.
This is what we saw at Docklands tonight.
Both Postecoglou's Victory and his former club, the Brisbane Roar as led by Mike Mulvey, played a fairly standard 4-4-2 which would swing into 4-2-4 or 2-4-4 depending on how the run of play went. Both sides had players which would move forwards up the flanks to cover the holes left by others. As far as a system goes, it works perfectly fine but does mean that it you encounter a side running exactly the same system, then the whole thing can come grinding to a giant halt; this is precisely what we saw for most of 90 minutes.
In defence we saw forwards with nowhere to go, wingers who would run deep into the corners to find that their deliveries were intercepted and cleared and play when running up the lines, found sideline after sideline.
Not to take anything away from Mike Mulvey but three rounds in to season 2013-14 and this match had all the hallmarks of a Postecoglou v Postecoglou fixture.
So then, what were the points which spun so many angels around on the head of a pin?
Kwame Yeboah for the Roar, fired in a pounder from 9 yards which was dealt with more than adequately by Victory keeper Nathan Coe, some 3 minutes before the half-time break. Less than a minute later, Jack Hingert's effort from about 15 yards away but on the other side was equally dealt with.
After the break, Mitch Nichols and Archie Thompson for the Victory looked like a couple of ravenous sharks, looking to bite at anything but nothing came. Thompson probably holds an A-League record tonight for straying off-side the most number of times in a match - I counted 12 but I could be wrong.
No, the result of this fixture spun on just three touches of the ball.
The first was Archie Thompson's first touch and control, the second was his pass through to release James Troisi in the 56th minute and the third was Troisi's "shot" which was more of a threaded pass through the eye of a needle, between Ivan Franjic and the post and through the legs of the flailing keeper Michael Theo.
Troisi's shot can't have been from anymore than about two yards away from the goal line but cut such a fine angle that it struck the base of the goal post on the other side, some 19 yards away.
Those are the sorts of points which swing such a finely balanced match.
Brisbane again proved my theory that a short corner is entirely pointless and Franjic even had a go at firing a bullet which would have gone in had it not hit Mark Milligan square in the face. Thomas Broich and Franjic tried deep into extra-time to buy an equaliser but they may as well have been trying to buy a battleship with a button, for their efforts were enitrely in vain.
1-0 to the Victory. Ange Postecoglou can walk away from this match knowing that he's left his mark on the domestic game and that perhaps he can do something for the national side. Time will yet see though if he can make angels can dance on the head of a pin at international level.