Simulation takes A-League centre stage
Simulation is under the spotlight in the A-League after Sydney FC and Melbourne Heart were both hurt by costly penalty decisions in Round 4.
Central Coast Mariners import Patricio Perez came off the bench to earn and score a spot-kick in his side's 1-1 draw at Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday and Perth Glory striker Michael Baird, also making his debut for his club, won an injury time penalty to allow Robbie Fowler to salvage a 2-2 draw at AAMI Park on Sunday.
Television replays showed contact to be minimal - if at all existent - in both cases and Sydney FC will seek to have the red card handed to goalkeeper Liam Reddy for his challenge on Perez overturned.
Experienced official Matthew Breeze awarded the Mariners their penalty in his 100th A-League match while Glory were given their lifeline by Kurt Ams on his A-League debut. Ams had earlier awarded Melbourne Heart a penalty after striker Alex Terra was given a slight tug by Perth defender Naum Sekulovski, but it was questionable whether there was enough contact to impede Terra's run.
Simulation is a bugbear for Australian fans because it is the biggest source of criticism of football by rival codes. As the A-League struggles for crowd numbers in its sixth season, the FFA would have been disappointed to see two home teams drop points after falling foul of incorrect decisions.
Glory coach Dave Mitchell admitted the Baird decision was "a soft penalty" but cheekily turned attention to the Perez incident from the previous night. Heart coach John van't Schip, who admitted he had not seen replays of the incident, felt it was just bad luck which would hopefully redress itself for the fledgling club somewhere along the line.
"It's happened - you can't change it," van't Schip said. "The referee has made his decision and hopefully during this long season, there will be a penalty for us. We were unlucky if the penalty was not a penalty, but we have to go on to the next game."
Sydney FC coach Vitezslav Lavicka has already flagged appealing Reddy's send-off and admitted he was gutted by the penalty decision which left the champions winless in four matches.
"What can I say?" Lavicka said. "All could see it. I am very disappointed, I am very upset, all the team as well."
Perth remain top of the table, with the Heart still bottom with two draws from their four matches. Elsewhere, Melbourne Victory posted their first win of the season - a 1-0 triumph over Gold Coast United at Skilled Park on Sunday thanks to Robbie Kruse's first-half goal. Adelaide United moved to second place with a 3-2 win over North Queensland Fury on Saturday, while Brisbane Roar impressed again with a 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix on Friday.