The Big Four Answers | Round 26

Sydney show they can tough out a game, Heart finally flatline and the Mariners pile the pressure upon the shoulders of Western Sydney Wanderers.

Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory: Can Victory do it without their big three? They tried, my God how they tried and they even would have felt like they were going to take at least a point after Christopher Cristaldo equalised late, but then Josh Risdon came sweeping in to score right at the death and give Perth a famous victory.

Connor Pain for his part tried his backside off and if it wasn-t for some inspired keeping from Danny Vukovic would have been the hero for Victory; so while they did miss Marco Rojas and Archie Thompson up front there is an argument and a solid one at that, that the biggest loss was Mark Milligan in the middle of the park.

Milligan would have brought steel to the middle of the park for the Victory and is he was there, it-s a pretty safe bet Chris Harold wouldn-t have been unmarked for Glory-s first goal.

Regardless of all of that the Glory showed they were desperate and the celebrations when Risdon scored were justified. Perth kept their season alive in fine style and now their fate lies in their own hands. A win over Adelaide and they make the finals, though you can bet Liam Miller will be kicking himself for kicking the ball away and earning a yellow card and a suspension for that game.

Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC: Can Sydney FC ruin the party? Anticipation, we said. Flares, we said. Noisy, we said: well, we were right on all counts as the Sydney derby delivered a football atmosphere that has been rarely seen in this city. Parramatta Stadium was pumping throughout the evening and the drama on the pitch matched the excitement off it.

As we suspected Sydney FC were no pushovers and they put a stop to the Wanderers fairytale for at least a week, eking out a desperate draw, battling manfully with just 10 players after Brett Emerton was giving his marching orders for taking out Sydney FC old boy Shannon Cole.

In fact the Sydney FC old boys played big roles in this match, with Nikolay Topor-Stanley seemingly forgetting which franchise he plays for these days, passing straight to Alessandro del Piero, who silenced the red and black clad fans momentarily with his second goal in a Sydney derby.

Admittedly the Wanderers were without a few key players, which included Aaron Mooy, Youssouf Hersi and Michael Beauchamp, but of greater concern would have been the ungamely way Shinji Ono limped off the field, he looked as lame as a horse who just finished 20 lengths last in a Group I sprint and all eyes will be on him as to whether he can back up on Friday night against the Jets.

For that match the Wanderers will also be missing Iacopo la Rocca who threw one almighty elbow at Terry Antonis, while Sydney FC will be missing Emerton and possible Lucas Neill who also pulled up sore in the upper leg and was rated on game night as a 50/50 chance of taking on the Roar by Frank Farina.

Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Heart: Can Roar bring back the love? Who got the love? The Roar have got the love it seems, against the Heart their fans were in full song at a Suncorp Stadium that looked about as bumpy as a camel-s back, after being torn up by the Queensland Reds the evening before.

Despite the pitch the Roar turned it on and 2-0 didn-t do their dominance of Melbourne-s bleeding heart-s justice. In fact there might not have been a more dominant performance from any team at all throughout the season.

Brisbane had it all from the get go and bossed the Heart all over the park, so much so that Michael Theo wasn-t even called into action in the Roar goal until about the 87th minute of the game. It was a performance that said ‘we-re here to defend our title, and as an added bonus Thomas Broich was at his destructive best.

If the Roar do indeed make the finals, other sides need to beware, because they are finals specialists and finally appear to be in the mood to defend their title.

As for Melbourne Heart… what a meek performance, they just rolled over and died.

Adelaide United v Central Coast Mariners: If it-s broke, can you fix it? Broke? Who-s broke? The Mariners reckon they will pay their players today after having ratified a new ownership deal that sees Lyall Gorman leave the club, and the playing group delivered a performance that seemed to say ‘we are focussed on our performance.-

We said Arnie would drill his players hard and he did. The mariners were relentless in every aspect of their game and when Daniel McBreen pounced in just the third minute there was a sense the mariners would not be letting the Wanderers take their Premier-s Plate away without a week of nerves.

To Adelaide-s credit they came back hard in the second half but with Zac Anderson, Patrick Zwaanswijk and Justin Pasfield all on their games it wasn-t enough to breach the Mariners- defence.

2-0 was a fair indicator of the game in the end and the Mariners have piled the pressure on the Wanderers, who now must take a point from the Jets in Newcastle or risk the Mariners making a last-ditch grab for the Premier-s Plate against Melbourne Heart.

As for Adelaide it was another Jekyll and Hyde performance and one that will be causing coach Michael Valkanis plenty of concern just a fortnight out from the finals.