The Hyundai A-League action has heated up during the Summer of Football and things are equally as hot in the race for the Golden Boot as two marksmen hit double figures heading into the second half of the season.
A couple of big names from the Victorian capital currently lead, the way but there’s a host of players on their tails and in striking distance to go top in one of the most fascinating Golden Boot races in memory.
Fresh from breaking the Hyundai A-League all-time scoring record, it’s no surprise to see Melbourne Victory’s Besart Berisha equal first with City’s Bruno Fornaroli on top of the standings with 10 goals.
Victory’s Marco Rojas (9), Sydney FC skipper Alex Brosque (8), Perth’s Andy Keogh and Phoenix flyer Roy Krishna (both 7) are enjoying superb seasons and are hot on their tails.
But Caltex Socceroo star Tim Cahill is finding the net regularly now, while the likes of Jamie Maclaren, Milos Ninkovic, Adam Taggart and Bobo are all in good form and looking to make a charge.
It promises to be a fascinating battle right to the end with some crucial games coming up for all the contenders as we head into the second half of the 2016/17 Season.
Victory duo pushing each other
It’s not often that two players from the same club are right in contention to win the golden boot.
But that’s the case for Victory pair Berisha and Rojas, who between them have scored 19 of their side’s 30 goals.
Rojas’ nine is especially good considering the Kiwi winger has only played in nine of the 13 rounds this campaign.
And they’ll both fancy their chances of adding to their respective tallies over the next few weeks, especially in Saturday night’s trip to last-placed Adelaide United, with both scoring at Coopers Stadium already this season.
Big few weeks for City pair
If not for a couple of uncharacteristic penalty misses, City skipper Fornaroli would be out in front of the scoring charts on his own.
He has to be content with a share of the lead for now but City arguably has the kindest draw over the next month, presenting a real opportunity to bang in a few more.
City meet four sides currently in the bottom half of the table to see out January, starting with the Wanderers in Melbourne on Friday night.
It’s then clashes with the lowly Mariners, Adelaide and Jets – all teams currently outside the top six - after that. You would expect City to get plenty of chances in those fixtures which will be like gold for the Uruguayan.
But don’t forget Cahill.
While he is five goals back with five for the season, the Caltex Socceroo veteran is catching fire and has netted in the last three games in succession.
The best of the rest in the contenders
Sky Blues skipper Brosque is fourth on the list but his red card against Roar last round hurts his chances to move up any time soon.
The 33-year-old will miss this weekend’s clash with the Mariners, who possess the competition’s leakiest defence, which robs him of an excellent chance on paper at least to add to that tally.
Suspension will also cost Wanderers striker Brendon Santalab (6 goals). "Santa" still has two games to run on his three-game ban, missing blockbuster matches against City and Sydney FC.
Keogh is Glory’s leading man but Diego Castro and Adam Taggart (both four goals) have both found the net during the Summer of Football and could be set for a huge second half of the season.
Maclaren can never be discounted and Roar faces the likes of Newcastle and Wellington in coming weeks, which could provide an opportunity to add to his tally.
And what about Shane Smeltz? The prolific striker is back in the Hyundai A-League this weekend after being named in the Phoenix squad to play Glory on Thursday night.
While he’s got a lot of ground to make up, anyone who has 89 career Hyundai A-League goals to his name knows where the net is and if he and the Nix catch fire, anything is possible.