April 2, 2012
AUCKLAND – All Whites marksman Shane Smeltz goal-scoring spree continued in the A-League playoffs with the prolific sharpshooter claiming the match ball for his goal scoring exploits for the second successive week.
In-form All Whites striker Shane Smeltz scored his second hat trick in as many weeks as Perth Glory beat Melbourne Heart 3-0 in the A-League elimination final at nib Stadium.
A week after potting four goals against Melbourne Victory, Smeltz booked Perth a spot in next week’s minor semifinal against the Wellington Phoenix with goals in the 65th, 72nd and 92nd minutes. Smeltz has scored 16 goals this season and extended his all-time league scoring record to 65.
The win sets up a clash with the Phoenix who won their elimination final with Sydney FC in Wellington with Tim Brown capping off a fairytale farewell to the Yellow Fever by opening the scoring two minutes after half-time minute.
Fittingly, the home-grown foundation member of the club was handed the captain’s armband for the match. Brown shocked the New Zealand football family by announcing last week this season would be his last in professional football before he studies for a masters degree in management in England.
Fellow All White Ben Sigmund crashed home an unmarked header from a precise Leo Bertos corner after 79 minutes to extend the lead, before Sydney drew level almost immediately with two quick fire goals in the 80th and 82nd minutes.
The drama continued with marquee man Paul Ifill dragged down for a penalty four minutes from time which he duly dispatched to set up the longest away trip in international sport.
Wellington knocked Perth out of the finals race two years ago, but the Glory will be confident of avenging that defeat on their home turf.
The A-League premiers, Central Coast were humbled 0-2 by defending champions Brisbane Roar in the first leg of their major semifinal. Michael McGlinchey was again at the heart of the Central Coast midfield but was unable to influence the tie which now heads to Gosford for the return leg.
Prior to the second leg both sides have Asian Champions League assignments during the week – Brisbane in Korea and Central Coast at Bluetongue Stadium.
In Japan, Michael Fitzgerald played 79 minutes in midfield for V-Varen Nagasaki in their 0-1 loss to Yokogawa Musashino in the third tier of the J-League.
After opening the scoring in the midweek FA Cup quarterfinal replay with Bolton, All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen was an unused substitute in Tottenham’s 3-1 home win over Swansea.
The win keeps Spurs five points clear of Chelsea in the crucial fourth UEFA Champions League position and level on points with North London rivals Arsenal.
Chris Wood was also left on the pine for Bristol City in the Championship as they drew with Derby County, other results meant that the Robins slipped into the relegation zone.
Tommy Smith continued his run with Ipswich Town notching up another 90 minutes in the 1-0 home win against Barnsley. The Tractor Boys sit comfortably above the drop zone.
West Ham’s Winston Reid is still on the injured list as West Ham slumped to a 2-4 home defeat to high-flying Reading. The loss meant the gap between the two sides has extended to four points with the top two finishers gaining automatic promotion to the Premier League.
The All Whites defender is reported to be back in training at the Hammers, which could be a boost for the London club as they are without a win in their last six games.
Still in the Championship, Young All White Cameron Howieson celebrated signing a professional contract with Burnley by being included in the first-team squad for the match with Portsmouth. Howieson was an unused sub as the Turf Moor club remained mid-table despite a 5-1 win.
In Scotland, Rory Fallon was left out of Aberdeen’s match day squad through illness as the Dons were beaten 0-3 by Hearts.
Oly-White Greg Draper was on target on his return for The New Saints in the semifinal of the Welsh Cup. The league leaders thrashed Bala Town 4-0 to remain on track for the league and cup double setting up a final with giant-killing Cefn Druids, Wales’ oldest club who ply their trade in the second tier of Welsh football.
In a hectic schedule Draper also faces a midweek League Cup semifinal replay with Newtown after the home-and-away tie finished 5-5 on aggregate. TNS are unbeaten in the last ten matches in all competitions and could claim a unique treble this season.
Andrew Boyens was pitched at the heart of the LA Galaxy defence in their 1-3 loss to the New England Revolution. New All White midfielder Dan Keat was an unused substitute in the defeat which left the defending MLS champions bottom of the Western Conference.
Still in the Western Conference, Oly-White goalkeeper Jake Gleeson returned to the bench for the Portland Timbers after helping New Zealand at the Olympic qualifiers in Taupo.
Michael Boxall was not included in the Vancouver Whitecaps squad for the goalless draw with the league’s newest expansion franchise, Philadelphia Union.