Heroic Moments: Krishna seals place in 'Nix history with hat-trick
It was an action-packed penultimate round in the Hyundai A-League as clubs fought for pride, home finals and everything in between.
Ultimately it was one man from Fiji that stood tallest in the drama of the Easter weekend, netting a hat-trick to secure all three points for Wellington Phoenix.
Roy Krishna has enjoyed an amazing season to date but his three goals in the 3-2 win against Melbourne City, including a stoppage-time winner, means 2018/19 is officially his best ever.
His 18 goals this campaign is not only the best return for a 'Nix player but also worthy of sitting on top of the Golden Boot ladder with a game to go.
His nearest rival is Sydney FC’s Adam Le Fondre, who requires a double in the Sky Blues' final game, against Newcastle Jets, just to draw level with Krishna.
Krishna, who joined the 'Nix in 2014, also became the first player in the club’s history to reach a half-century of goals.
The hat-trick itself was a thing of beauty as well, with all three goals coming in distinctly different ways.
The first was a classic counter-attack with Krishna's finish a neat little dink over the rushing Eugene Galekovic.
The second was a pinpoint strike from the top of the penalty area, evading the red and white defenders and lashing the ball into the left-hand corner.
The third and final was perhaps the most impressive though.
The diminutive Fijian popped up in the chaos of an injury-time corner and held off a physical challenge from Galekovic before calmly flicking the ball over the line to prompt dramatic scenes at Westpac Stadium.
Champness continuing to make strides
Any Hyundai A-League fan would have spared a thought for Joey Champness when the Newcastle Jets youngster suffered a fractured foot in pre-season.
That injury meant that the flyer would not be seen again in Jets’ colours for another five months, but since returning to the fray in Round 14 the 21-year-old has made a steady comeback..
That culminated in a dominant display during the Jets’ 6-1 thumping of Brisbane on Saturday night, with Champness scoring a double and providing an assist.
The first, in particular, was an absolute peach of a strike, curling into the top right-hand corner and giving goalkeeper Jamie Young no chance.
The second was a lot simpler, with Champness needing only to tap the ball in from less than a metre out following a Dimitri Petratos cross.
Grant proving worth yet again
The past three Hyundai A-League campaigns have been kind to Rhyan Grant.
The boy from Canowindra has evolved from reliable right-back to the best in the country, leading to a debut for the Caltex Socceroos last year.
His performance against newly-crowned Premiers Perth Glory was just what we have come to expect from the man with the mullet.
The 28-year-old was a focal point of the Sky Blues’ attack, notching up an incredible 92 touches as he patrolled the flank, a statistic bettered only by teammate Brandon O’Neill.
Grant also made three tackles, won nine of 13 duels and picked off three interceptions.
Reds striker walks fine line
Had things gone as planned this section of Heroic Moments would never have been written.
That is because George Blackwood’s match-winning goal in the 81st minute was very close to not happening had Adelaide United manager Marco Kurz been a bit quicker.
Kurz revealed post-match that he had discussed taking off Blackwood shortly before the player rose through the air to head in Isaias’ corner and consign rivals Melbourne Victory to defeat.
It was a well-taken goal towards the end of another tense Original Rivalry clash and the 1-0 result could help secure the Reds a crucial home final.
Adelaide currently sit in the coveted fourth spot, but are only a point ahead of Wellington and need a victory from their Anzac Day trip to Brisbane to guarantee they return to Coopers Stadium in a fortnight’s time.
‘Oh captain, my captain’
Finally this week it’s time to give Central Coast Mariners captain Matt Simon his due after his emotional double against Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night.
The Gosford club have endured a wretched season, losing their manager and slumping to a third wooden spoon in the space of four years.
But against the Wanderers there were definite signs of life from the patient.
The Mariners raced to a 3-0 lead in the second half, with Simon scoring two of them - the first an absolute pile driver from a dead ball and the second a well-taken penalty.
With interim manager Alen Stajcic all but confirming he will take the reins on a permanent basis next season, a reinvigorated Simon will only add to the sense of positivity on the Central Coast.