Brisbane show signs of life, Phoenix reveal they're not dead yet - but Heart look like they need a defibrilator.
Newcastle Jets v Perth Glory: Will Gary-s gamble pay off? It would have, had he been able to put all his chips on the table. In the end, his lack of resources saw Newcastle fold.
Perth Glory were decent in spurts but ultimately lucky to come away with three points - the night should have belonged to the Jets, and probably would have if Emile Heskey had been playing.
The Jets controlled much of the game and were much more threatening in the final third, with Bridges pulling the strings for the youngsters around him. Adam Taggart scored a great equaliser but the young Jets just didn-t have the nous to get the final ball or the experience to be in the right place at the right time to finish off one of the many chances they created on the night.
Glory looked lively in the opening 20 minutes and kept the ball well but faded after that, with only the Jets- profligacy to thank that the scores were still even as the seconds ticked down.
But the sucker punch from Michael Thwaite at the death has all just made that dogfight for the top six even messier. Who knows who-ll make the finals now - but, having played one game more than their rivals, Newcastle-s failure to capitalise on a good performance at home suggests their time with the high rollers is up.
Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners: Can the Mariners handle the pressure? We hate to say it, but there is a reason the “Central Choke Mariners” tag has stuck over the years and this weekend it was on full display for all to see.
A must-win game against bitter rivals Sydney FC and the yellow and navy simply didn-t turn up. To use a worn-out parlance, they brought knives to a gun fight and they were obliterated. Their Premiership hopes shot to pieces and their blood and sweat staining the pitch at Allianz Stadium.
And it-s not like they didn-t have their chances. Daniel McBreen and Trent Sainsbury both spurned gilt-edged opportunities; Sainsbury even had an open net and still unbelievably missed, which only added to a horror day for the centre back, after his deflection turned Seb Ryall-s shot past a stranded Mat Ryan, whose reaction (head in hands and on his knees) said it all.
We said Sydney would give the Mariners a torrid time and that they did. The Sky Blues spent much of the match in their own half, but they stayed so tight on the Mariners that chances were few and far between.
The likes of Pedj Bojic, Bernie Ibini and McBreen were shut down handily by Adam Griffiths, Tiago and Peter Triantis, with only Michael McGlinchey making any kind of impact.
From there Sydney FC would break and use their pace to successfully counter, their young guns turning on a clinic with special mention to Terry Antonis for a blistering performance. They-re inconsistent but it seems Sydney can have a big say in the finals.
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory: Is Mike Mulvey the saviour of Brisbane Roar? Brisbane didn-t end the round in the top six, but boy did they look like the Roar of old. Here-s a warning: the lion of the league is waking from its slumber and if the performance against the Victory is any indication they are keen to retain their title as king of the jungle.
Brisbane looked for all the world as if they were going to run over the Victory in the second half and had it not been for the efforts of Leigh Broxham, Daniel Mullen and Nathn Coe, they might have, as the two sides put on a thoroughly entertaining 1-1 draw.
Brisbane-s triangles were working, their sharp passing a highlight, while Victory used their pace and the space that opened up for them to get in behind the Roar on the flanks and then get it back into the centre of the ground.
In the end a draw might have been the right result between the team-s but the upshot is this Mike Mulvey has the Roar looking good and he seems to have motivated the likes of Mitch Nichols and Thomas Broich. Brisbane right now are dangerous to every team, they just have to find their way into the six.
Wanderers FC v Wellington Phoenix: Do Wellington have any chance in Parramatta? Here is what we wrote in the Big Five Questions “With Jeremy Brockie in their team you know the Nix are always a chance of scoring a screamer - but that might be where their hope ends.”
Well, Brockie almost did the impossible again, but that-s his modus operandi. With 8 minutes to go the Kiwi turned on a dime, between two defenders and lashed a left-footed volley from well outside the area.
Ante Covic was stranded, and to his relief the ball hit the cross bar. The Wanderers then ran off with three points, thieves in the night.
That incident almost summed the seasons of the two sides up perfectly. The Wanderers have been great but have had luck. Wellington have had none.
The football gods are in the Wanderers- corner. There is no other way to explain Vince Lia-s ridiculous handling of the ball that led to the Wanderers- second penalty of the match and Mark Bridge giving them the win and a five-point buffer atop the table.
This was not Wanderers- football at its best, they played hard but they weren-t fluent. We won-t say Phoenix were the better team but they took it to the Wanderers and in truth probably deserved a point from Parramatta Stadium.
Did the Wanderers players feel the pressure of being on top? Probably. Graham Arnold reckons they have the Premier-s Plate wrapped up, so do we. It would take a monumental fall from grace from the red and black to not finish top of the table now.
They-ve had their nervous moment; now they can get on with the business of making history.
Melbourne Heart v Adelaide United: Can Heart win the must-win game? This wasn-t so much a question for the Heart, more a call to arms. It couldn-t have been plainer. They were at home, where they-ve produced all of their best moments this season, against an opponent whose security gave them relatively little to fight for.
And the Reds didn-t have to fight at all - Heart simply laid down. This insipid display was a bad as John Aloisi side have been all season and it-s so frustrating because we know they can do better.
Granted, Eugene Galekovic turned out a couple of his standard moments of brilliance to keep them at bay, but Heart can-t really use that as an excuse. There was little penetration in the final third and no bite or creativity in the midfield. Adelaide didn-t have to get out of third gear, as the Heart stalled in their own driveway.
Of course, there-s always the old “mathematical chance” crutch - but their final three fixtures are home to the Wanderers, and two away games in Brisbane and the Central Coast. What do you think their chances are?