Victory goal-machine Besart Berisha has a healthy lead at the top of the Golden Boot race but with the striker set to miss a fortnight of football, the opportunity is there for the chasing pack to bridge the gap.
Berisha found the target again against Glory over the weekend – his 99th goal in the Hyundai A-League – but won’t play again until early April due to the split round and international commitments with Kosovo.
City superstar Bruno ‘El Tuna’ Fornaroli is his closest challenger and has two games up his sleeve to make up lost ground, as does Roar marksman Jamie Maclaren.
There are just five rounds remaining – four games for some teams – so we take a look at who’s in contention for the Nike Golden Boot award as the competition reaches its crescendo.
Besart Berisha (Melbourne Victory, 18 goals)
Just one strike away from the magical 100 goal mark in the A-League but won’t have a chance to add to that tally until April 2 when the Victory host Wellington Phoenix.
The marksman will have matches against Phoenix (home), Wanderers (away) and Central Coast (home) to boost his record before the end of the regular season.
Bruno Fornaroli (Melbourne City, 15 goals)
Hasn’t been as lethal as he was in his maiden season in the A-League but still remains a prolific scorer and will fancy his chances of catching Bes over the next fortnight.
The City superstar is a real chance to jump to the top of the standings in Berisha’s absence with matches against Newcastle (home) and Wanderers (away) in the next two weeks.
Closes the season with games against Sydney FC (away), Adelaide (home) and Perth Glory (away).
Jamie Maclaren (Brisbane Roar, 13 goals)
Will be hurting from his omission from the Caltex Socceroos squad and will want to prove a point in front of goal against Adelaide United on Sunday afternoon.
The Roar speedster has further games against Victory (home), Mariners (home), Glory (away) and Wellington (home) to add to his tally and improve on his 20-goal haul from last season.
Marco Rojas (Melbourne Victory, 12 goals)
The ‘Kiwi Messi’ has been in scintillating touch this season and is arguably the best player in the competition this term with an incredible return of 12 goals and 11 assists.
The 25-year-old won’t play this week due to the split round and will miss Victory’s next fixture against Brisbane due to international commitments with New Zealand.
A long shot to catch his teammate with three games remaining but you just never know.
Bobo (Sydney FC, 11 goals)
The classy Brazilian scored the winner against Victory a fortnight ago but is another to have the week off due to the split round.
Sydney’s even spread of goal-scorers has perhaps hurt the striker’s chances of individual honours but will have games against Glory (away), City (home), Phoenix (away) and Jets (home) to improve his output.
Roy Krishna (Wellington Phoenix, 11 goals)
The Fijian flyer has been the shining light in a largely disappointing season for the Phoenix, with his goals and overall work-rate a real highlight.
Will need to make the most of this weekend’s clash against Wanderers (away) with the striker to miss Wellington’s clash with Newcastle next week.
Adam Taggart (Perth Glory, 11 goals)
Another who’d be disappointed to miss the Socceroos squad, Taggart was frustrated in front of goal in Glory’s 4-1 loss to Victory on Saturday night.
His cause won’t be helped by a week off this weekend but Glory have three of their last four fixtures at home (Sydney, Brisbane, City) along with a trip to Adelaide to tackle the Reds in a fortnight.