City and Sydney set the early pace - but who else will join the Premiership race?

Melbourne City have emerged as the early-front runners after seven rounds of Hyundai A-League action, but Sydney FC sit one point behind with a game in hand, waiting to make top spot their own.

City continued their impressive start to the season in a thrilling 3-2 win over Western Sydney at Bankwest Stadium on Friday night, stealing all three points after Jamie Maclaren tucked the winner home in stoppage time.

On the other side of the country, meanwhile, Sydney continued their own stellar streak of form with a convincing 3-1 win over reigning Premiers Perth Glory at HBF Park.

The win takes Steve Corica's side to 15 points, which is the best start of a Championship defence after seven rounds in Hyundai A-League history.

The Champions sit one point behind City, but have the chance to make top spot their own by snatching a draw or win over Western United next Sunday, with City side having the bye in Round 8.


Despite their defeat to City, the Wanderers remain in the early Premiership race mix-up, while Adelaide - who secured a big 3-1 win over Melbourne Victory on Saturday - are also turning heads. 

Given the stunning early season form of City, and Sydney's superb recent Hyundai A-League record, it could be argued that the two teams in lighter shade of blue are the pair of Premiership favourites as the season approaches one third of the way through.

But what do you think? Is the Premiers Plate City or Sydney's to lose? Or can you see another early contender emerging?

Who is your early-season Premiership favourite?

Who is your early-season Premiership favourite?
Melbourne City FC
Melbourne City FC
Sydney FC
Sydney FC
Adelaide United
Adelaide United
Western Sydney Wanderers FC
Western Sydney Wanderers FC
Perth Glory
Perth Glory
Western United FC
Western United FC

Who is your early-season Premiership favourite?

READ: ‘He’s our snake’: Le Fondre claims Barbarouses Sydney's own
READ: Fornaroli breaks record but Sky Blues down Glory In Grand Final rematch
WATCH: All the Mini Matches from Hyundai A-League Round 7
STAR XI: Hyundai A-League Round 7 Team of the Week

Read on as we discuss all the big takeaways from Hyundai A-League Round 7...

 

639-day wait for a clean sheet not the only Mariners record to tumble

Central Coast Mariners ended their long, long wait for a clean sheet in the Hyundai A-League with a gritty 1-0 win over Western United on Sunday afternoon.

The win - sealed by Giancarlo Gallifuoco's deflected 49th minute strike - was the club's first shutout in 639 days and ended a staggering run of 38 matches without a clean sheet. 

But that wasn’t the only record to go tumbling down at Central Coast Stadium on the weekend, as the Mariners enjoyed a win to remember.

Hyundai A-League Team of the Week - who made the cut for Round 7?

Gallifuoco

Simon enjoys milestone win

Mariners’ striker Matt Simon featured off the bench for the Mariners on Sunday in what became his 100th win in the Hyundai A-League.

Simon’s 100 wins have come from 62 games over two stints with the Mariners and 38 for Sydney FC.

To add to his individual record was a special team landmark reached when Giancarlo Gallifuoco struck the only goal of the game for the Mariners early in the second half.

Gallifuoco’s all-important strike wasn’t only the match-winner on the day, but the 500th Mariners goal in the Hyundai A-League.

Records aside, Alen Stajcic and the Mariners will revel in taking the all-important three points on in an important result which hurled them into the top six. 

Mariners profit from gamble on youth

Alen Stajcic put tremendous faith in his young players on Sunday afternoon and it paid off, as four scholarship players featured in his side's 1-0 win.

Sam Silvera, Gianni Stensness and Lewis Miller played from the start while Josh Nisbet came off the bench, and the Mariners scholarship quartet showed no signs of being daunted by the occasion.

'Besart is a unique human': Rudan explains stare down after Berisha substitute

After the game, Stajcic was full of praise for the Mariners' academy which has produced so much young talent he plans to deploy throughout the season.

“Three quarters of this team are new to the squad, and today we had three scholarship players starting so to have three kids on the field starting and doing so well for us is really important," Stajcic said.

“We have done a lot of work on getting the Mariners Academy back on track – all the team there led by Ken Schembri and Nick Montgomery are doing a great job and as a coaching team we are all working well together to help recruit and develop the players we believe have real potential."

Lewis Miller
Lewis Miller

Next up for Central Coast Mariners in Round 8 is a trip to face Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, 30 November at 5pm AEDT.
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READ: Mariners ride luck in shut-out win over Western United
READ: Stajcic believes Mariners are ready to compete with the best

Talay claims first Phoenix win

It was a long time coming, but Wellington Phoenix boss Ufuk Talay notched first win of his managerial tenure on Saturday afternoon with a 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar.

Talay‘s side came up trumps through goals to captain Steven Taylor and Mexican creator Ulises Dávila which proved too much for the Roar to overcome despite a late goal from Stefan Mauk.

Only Ernie Merrick (11 games) took longer to notch his first win in charge of the Phoenix, but Talay will be hoping many more wins will follow his first as he tries to lift his side off the bottom of the Hyundai A-League table.

READ: Talay hails perfect game plan execution in first Phoenix win
READ: Phoenix hold on for first win against wasteful Roar

Wellington vs Brisbane
Steven Taylor scored a rare goal for Wellington on Saturday afternooon

Not worthy of playing for Melbourne Victory, says Toivonen

Ola Toivonen says his side’s 3-1 loss to Adelaide United was a performance ill-fitting to the high standards held at Melbourne Victory, who slumped to their worst ever start to a Hyundai A-League season after falling to the Reds on Saturday night.

Adelaide inflicted a second consecutive loss on the Victory who fell to 10th on the Hyundai A-League table after the conclusion of Round 7.

“I think everyone needs to look in the mirror after the first half,” Toivonen told FOX Sports post-match.

“It’s not worthy of playing for Melbourne Victory when you play a first half like that.

“We cannot perform like we did in the first half because now we are in trouble.”


Despite their horrific stretch of form captain Toivonen is not ready to shy away from the challenge; in fact, the Swedish striker says his side will roll up their sleeves and dig deep in an effort to salvage their season.

“We need to dig deep... it’s a difficult time,” Toivonen said.

“It is tough right now.

 “It’s good that we are going back to AAMI Park, we are in need of support from the supporters and the members.”

Victory's next challenge? A date with the reigning Premiers this Friday, kick off 7.30pm AEDT. 

Hyundai A-League Team of the Week - who made the cut for Round 7?

McGree steals the headlines as Reds captain slips under the radar

Riley McGree's goals have catapulted Adelaide to third in the Hyundai A-League. 

In three games this season McGree scored the decisive goals resulting in the Reds taking all three points, including against Victory as his second brace of the season led Adelaide to their fourth win on the trot.

But down the other end of the field his captain Michael Jakobsen is putting in performances of equal importance in the Reds’ rise to prominence.

Jakobsen made 11 clearances against Victory – the most of any player on the pitch – taking his season tally to a league-high 37, and his ability to take contested balls and make them his own was on show all night as he won five out of his six duels.

The Danish international's role in the Red’s fortunes has gone slightly under the radar as Adelaide’s piping hot strike force continue to score at will, but this unsung Adelaide hero is doing the business for his side week in, week out.  

READ: ‘The football we played was ridiculous’: Troisi flourishing as Reds hit their straps
READ: Resilient Reds take down Victory in Original Rivalry

Adelaide United defender Michael Jakobsen was a rock at the back for the Reds in the Original Rivalry match against Melbourne Victory.
Adelaide United stalwart Michael Jakobsen