We are down to the last six rounds of the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 regular season and there is still so much to play for when it comes to the Premiership, top four and top six.
With only two games played over the weekend to complete Round 21, Wellington Phoenix were the big movers.
Mark Rudan’s men not only set club and Hyundai A-League records in their mauling of the Central Coast Mariners but also jumped up two places on the ladder.
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Elsewhere, Western Sydney Wanderers proved that their late-season resurgence is showing no signs of slowing down with a drubbing of Brisbane Roar.
We look at what the weekend’s two games has done for the race to the Finals Series.
Phoenix firm for a top-four finish
Newcastle Jets’ recent good run of form in the Hyundai A-League was supposed to have ramped the pressure on to the boys from Wellington.
Heading into Saturday night’s clash against the struggling Mariners, the Phoenix held a slender two-point advantage over the seventh-placed Jets (26 points).
But their 8-2 annihilation in Gosford not only gave them some breathing space from the Hunter club, but also saw Wellington leapfrog Melbourne City (30 points) and Adelaide United (31 points) into fourth spot (with 31 points).
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While all those sides are keen to secure their spot in the super six, a top-four finish is a big advantage as it brings a home final in the opening week of the playoffs.
And now the Kiwi outfit is in the box seat.
The next three games could prove decisive in their quest to stay in the four, hosting the resurgent Wanderers this Sunday, followed by another home match against the ambitious Jets after the international break.
That is followed by a trip to Adelaide to face the Reds the following week in what could be a shoot-out for fourth spot in Round 24.
If Wellington were to grab fourth position, it would not be the first time the club has finished that high on the ladder.
Back in the 2014/15 campaign – under current Jets boss Ernie Merrick – the Phoenix ended the regular season in fourth spot only to fall at the first hurdle with a 2-0 loss to Melbourne City in the Elimination Final at Westpac Stadium.
Are the Wanderers still in the finals hunt?
It might seem a long-shot, but Western Sydney’s excellent run of form means the Wanderers cannot be counted out of the finals equation.
While Markus Babbel’s side remain 10 points behind the top six on 20 competition points, six wins would see them amass 38 points.
That total has been enough to qualify for the playoffs in four of the last five seasons.
What is working in the Wanderers’ favour is that they have found some excellent form at the precisely the right time of year.
Friday night’s impressive 4-1 win over the Roar made it four games without defeat, scoring 10 goals in the process.
And their next three fixtures pit them against clubs who are in the top six scrap alongside them, meaning they can potentially take points off their immediate rivals - as well as win them for themselves.
It starts on Sunday with a difficult road trip to Wellington, before hosting Melbourne City and then making the short trip up the M1 to play the Jets.
If they can take maximum points from those three games it would not only have them right on the tails of the top six but set-up a huge Sydney Derby against the Sky Blues in Round 25.