Round 25 will be remembered for a very long time: salary cap shocks, bottom beating top and heroes farewelled. Grab your coffee, your Monday morning Hyundai A-League wrap is right here...
With the Premier’s Plate within their grasp Victory spurned a glorious chance to cement their position ahead of the chasing pack with a shock 1-0 home loss to lowly Newcastle on Friday night. Victory didn’t deserve to win, though they had some golden chances to equalise late on. The Big V, still on top by a whisker, now head to Brisbane for two crucial games against the re-energised Roar.
Wow! Phil Stubbins’ Jets played like league leaders on Friday night, earning a shock, but thoroughly deserved 1-0 win over the actual league leaders Victory at AAMI Park. Defensively solid, organised and dangerous on the counter, Newcastle should have gone into the break ahead. But it was Edson Montano with a neat finish that separated the two sides in what was the Jets’ best performance all season. They are now two points clear of bottom side Wanderers with two games left.
Just hours after a bombshell announcement by FFA – one which resulted in the club being excluded from this season’s Finals Series due to alleged salary cap breaches – Glory went down 3-0 to Sydney FC at nib on Friday night. A black day for the club but they will fight on vowed coach Kenny Lowe. “We’re professionals and we get paid to do a job and as hard as it is, that’s what we’re going to focus on for the next two games,” he said after the game. They face City at home this Sunday.
The Sky Blues shone in the West with an excellent 3-0 rout of Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Friday night. Captain Alex Brosque netted a brace and Bernie Ibini with one of the goals of the season as Graham Arnold’s men kept up the pressure on their rivals for what is turning out to be a ding-dong battle for that Premier’s Plate trophy.
The Reds had a golden chance to take top spot on the ladder against an opponent that had played in Asian in the ACL midweek. But they blew it, losing 3-2 at home to Brisbane Roar FC. 3-0 down Josep Gombau's men grabbed two late goals from Craig Goodwin and a Pablo Sanchez penalty in time added on, but it was too little too late on a bitterly disappointing day for United.
Brisbane capped a divine 24 hours by locking in the most unlikely Finals Series berth with a dramatic 3-2 win over Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium on Saturday. The result, in conjunction with Perth Glory's expulsion from the finals for alleged salary cap breaches, allowed the previously seventh-placed Roar to rise from the ashes and keep their title defence alive. Andrija Kaluderovic, a Eugene Galekovic own goal and defender Jack Hingert with his maiden A-League goal had Roar 3-0 up. They conceded twice late on but held on for a precious three points.
Skipper John Hutchinson was sent out a winner for his last match in Gosford as the home side edged out Wanderers 1-0 on Saturday night. Josh Rose’s second minute strike proved to be the winner. Mariners fans gave Hutchinson – as well as striker Matt Simon – a wonderful reception in their final home matches and the result was the icing on the cake.
With the Jets winning on Friday night, Wanderers' 1-0 loss in Gosford has upped the ante in the race to avoid the wooden spoon. The red and black now two points behind Newcastle with two games left. However, coach Tony Popovic says Western Sydney’s struggles in the A-League this season will be forgotten if they can progress to the knockout stage of the AFC Champions League.
City passed up plenty of good chances in a frustrating but entertaining stalemate against Phoenix, drawing 0-0 at AAMI. John van ‘t Schip’s men were already assured of a Finals Series berth prior to the game courtesy of Perth Glory’s disqualification on Friday for breaching the salary cap, but were unable to breach Glen Moss’s goal on Sunday.
Phoenix missed a chance to regain first place in the A-League but did close in on the frontrunners after drawing 0-0 away to Melbourne City FC on Sunday. Seeking to respond to successive 3-0 losses at home in their last two matches, Ernie Merrick’s side had a Nathan Burns penalty saved and spurned some serviceable opportunities at AAMI Park to win the game. They face the Mariners at home this Friday night.