On a weekend when Brisbane Roar impressively secured the Premiers Plate with three rounds remaining, here’s the wrap up of Round 24.
On a weekend when Brisbane Roar impressively secured the Premiers Plate with three rounds remaining, losses for the bottom three clubs on the ladder makes it near impossible, at least for Perth Glory and Melbourne Heart, to dream of an unlikely finals assault. In what was another dramatic and highly entertaining round in the Hyundai A-League, here-s the wrap up of Round 24.
Adelaide United v Sydney FC The Reds made it 17 points out of a possible 21 at home since December 29 with a clinical 3-1 win over the Sky Blues at Coopers Stadium. Having failed to secure victories on the road to the top two in the previous fortnight, Josep Gombau-s team relished being back in familiar surroundings as they shrugged off the Sydney challenge in an action-packed and often ill-tempered encounter. Fabio Ferreira and Sergio Cirio gave the hosts a 2-0 lead just after the break, before Matt Thompson triggered the possibility of a Sky Blues comeback. But any thought of that was snuffed out by a classy Bruce Djite finish late on to leave the Reds in touch with the top four and put Sydney FC with no certainty of a top six finish.
Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix On a concerning Hunter Stadium pitch that could be described as ‘patchy- at best, the Newcastle Jets- main strike weapons were all on target as they hammered Wellington Phoenix 5-0 at Hunter Stadium. Adam Taggart scored a brace, Emile Heskey found the back of the net for the first time this season, Joel Griffiths capitalised on some lacklustre Phoenix defending while veteran Michael Bridges also got in on the act with a superb strike to end the rout.
Costa Rican Kenny Cunningham tried gallantly for the visitors but without Carlos Hernandez or Ben Sigmund the Phoenix failed to give a yelp, the result leap frogging Clayton Zane-s team above Sydney FC into the top six on goal difference.
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory Brisbane Roar claimed the Premiers Plate in sensational fashion at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night when a late Luke Brattan wonder-strike earned them a 1-0 win over Melbourne Victory. The brilliant Brattan goal from well outside the area was a fitting end to a high-quality contest, highlighted by some sweet passing football from Brisbane and a dogged, tactically astute performance from the Victory.
The hosts created the better chances throughout the first versus second clash, but it looked like the Victory would hold on through sheer determination until deep into stoppage time, when Brattan collected a pass 25 metres from goal and fired his effort into the bottom left corner. The three points earned by the Roar ensures they cannot be caught at the top of the table with three games remaining.
Melbourne Heart v Central Coast Mariners All of the talk post game might have been around Orlando Engelaar-s wonder strike but it was the Mariners going home with smiles on their faces and the three points in their keeping thanks to a come from behind 2-1 win. Goals from Kim Seung-Yong and substitute Bernie Ibini got the Mariners over the line and gives them a healthy four-point buffer over seventh-placed Sydney FC with three rounds of the regular season remaining.
For Heart meanwhile it is still not mathematically impossible to finish in the top six, but John van 't Schip's team, ninth in the standings and seven points back from the Newcastle Jets, would need to win all their remaining fixtures and hope for some major collapses from their immediate rivals.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Perth Glory The Wanderers produced another strong and workmanlike performance to comfortably account for bottom placed Perth Glory 3-0 at Pirtek Stadium. Far superior throughout, Jerome Polenz got the ball rolling for the hosts before the break before Mark Bridge and Tomi Juric-s impressive finishes in the second 45 minutes sealed the win. The score line could have possibly been more one-sided but nonetheless it left the Wanderers two points clear of the chasing pack in second spot.
For the Glory, who have now not tasted victory in their past ten games, there will only be pride to play for in the remaining three rounds, in what is fast becoming a season to forget.