It’s tight at the top, with just two points separating the top five and only four matches remaining in the season. On the weekend, table-toppers Wellington were thumped at home while Perth ended a nine-match winless streak.
Melbourne Victory 2-1 Central Coast Mariners
(Finkler 40’ 77’ / Cernak 32’)
Crowd: 18,205 @ AAMI Park
Melbourne Victory pulled to within one point of Wellington Phoenix with a come-from-behind victory over a plucky Central Coast outfit.
Victory were expected to be too good for a struggling Mariners outfit despite a handful of players on international duty, but it was the visitors who took the lead through former Victory midfielder Isaka Cernak.
A brilliant curling effort from Gui Finkler drew Victory level going into half time and it was the Brazilian who struck again fifteen minutes from time with another peach to give hosts a vital three points.
Melbourne City 1-0 Brisbane Roar
Crowd: 9561 @ AAMI Park
Melbourne City all but secured their place in the playoffs, seeing off their nearest rival, Brisbane Roar thanks to an early Jonatan Germano goal. City’s third straight win takes them eight points clear of Brisbane, although the Roar do have a game in hand.
The early goal came after Kennedy leapt highest, with his header well saved by Jamie Young. But the Roar custodian could only parry it into the path of Germano who had a simple tap in to give City the lead.
Clear cut chances we few and far between for both sides, with James Brown for City and Brandon Borello for the Roar going closest to adding to the solitary goal, but it was the single goal that separated the two sides after 90 minutes.
Perth Glory 3-2 Western Sydney Wanderers
(Sidnei 55’, Griffiths 68’, Risdon 87’ / Castelen 13’, Bulut 72’)
Crowd: 9415 @ nib Stadium
Perth won their first match since the start of January thanks to a rocket from right back Josh Risdon minutes from time.
It started poorly for Perth when Romeo Castelen got in behind to give Western Sydney a 1-0 lead. Yusuke Tanaka’s poor headed clearance gifted Perth an equaliser early in the second half, and equally poor defending from the corner 13 minutes later saw Rostyn Griffiths rise highest and beat Covic to the ball to give Perth the lead.
It didn’t last long as Risdon’s turnover gifted Kerem Bulut a one-on-one with Vukovic, which he duly dispatched.
Keen to make amends, Risdon did so in the best possible fashion when he collected the ball just inside his own half, stormed towards the box and unleashed a bullet and hit the top corner and secured the three points for Perth.
Wellington Phoenix 0-3 Sydney FC
(Faty 9’, Smeltz 28’, Muscat (OG) 40’)
Crowd: 6236 @ Westpac Stadium
A first half blitz from Sydney FC stunned Wellington and drew them to within a point of the Phoenix in third.
Recent signing Jacques Faty opened the scoring inside ten minutes, given time in the box to control the ball and volley home past Glen Moss at the near post. Controversy immediately surrounded Sydney’s second when Shane Smeltz doubled the lead from what looked like an offside position, but replays showed the assistant got the call spot on.
Poor defending from a corner five minutes from half time saw Sydney bundle home a third to stun the small crowd inside Westpac Stadium.
Things went from bad to worse in the second half when Albert Reira was shown a red card, meaning he will miss this week’s top of the table clash against second-placed Melbourne Victory. Smeltz was also shown a red card after he kicked out at Ben Sigmund.
Newcastle Jets 0-1 Adelaide United
Crowd: 6888 @ Hunter Stadium
Newcastle showed few signs of scarring after their last outing against Adelaide, a 7-0 hammering, and did more than enough to take something from this match despite the final scoreline.
The hosts thought they had taken an early lead when Mitch Cooper had time and space in the box to place his shot, which beat Galekovic but was cleared off the line by a diving Dylan McGowan.
Adelaide made them pay five minutes later when Marcelo Carrusca’s shot was deflected by Ben Kennedy past Daniel Mullen who was ready to clear the ball off the line. Enver Alivodic proved a constant threat for Adelaide, as did Edson Montano who saw a second-half shot hit the woodwork.
The win was a crucial one for the Reds, keeping them within touching distance of the top four with a trip to Sydney this weekend.