Victory build for opener
The Melbourne Victory and North Queensland Fury have wrapped up their pre-season campaigns with wins, while a late Jin Hyun Song equaliser saw Newcastle and Sydney share the spoils on an action-packed Sunday across the nation.
Goals to Archie Thompson and Grant Brebner have helped Melbourne Victory finish off their pre-season in style through a 2-1 win over Adelaide United in Launceston on Sunday.
In an exciting grand final re-match, Brebner and Thompson scored during the first half from set pieces before second-half Reds' substitute Cassio pulled one back just before the hour.
But despite dominating the last 30 minutes, Adelaide couldn't find an equaliser.
In front of nearly 7000 people at Aurora Stadium, the match started off with all guns blazing, Cristiano missing a good chance to open Adelaide's scoring when his header was parried away by Glen Moss before Thompson struck the post down the other end.
But the Victory took the lead in the 16th minute when Brebner tapped home Broxham's corner kick, the Melbourne side doing it all over again 13 minutes later as Thompson was on hand to convert another Broxham corner.
In the 57th minute, Cassio produced some brilliant skill as he volleyed home a cross from Shin, but the Reds struggled to break down Melbourne's rearguard from then on.
Despite the loss Adelaide coach Aurelio Vidmar said his side showed some good signs against the almost full-strength Hyundai A-League premiers.
"Obviously we're very disappointed about conceding both goals from set pieces and that's something we'll have to work on," Vidmar said.
"The second half was very good, we dominated and looked physically fitter and stronger than them and I was really pleased with the way we played."
"We had five players unavailable so as soon as we get them back it is going to make the team a lot more competitive and that's what we want."
"(But) out of the five, Reidy (Paul Reid) is probably the only one that will possibly join the main group before the (Round 1) Perth game."
"It's going to take us a few weeks for us to get up to the intensity and tempo of Hyundai A-League football but this pre-season has not been a disaster by any means," he said.
A late strike from Jin Hyun Song, meanwhile has given Newcastle a 1-1 draw with Sydney FC at a damp Sydney Football Stadium.
Song's effort late in the second half cancelled out Alex Brosque's first half finish but the result still keeps Sydney's undefeated pre-season record intact, the Sky Blues claiming eleven wins, two draws and conceding just two goals during a thirteen match pre-season program.
"We are happy," said coach Vitezslav Lavicka. "We try some options of line-up, try some systems and now we are hungry to start (the season)."
After a dominant opening the Sky Blues had the first chance in the 14th minute, Brendan Gan's cushioned header falling to Mark Bridge, whose shot on the turn was pushed away by Jets' custodian, Ben Kennedy.
Sydney continued to impress and Bridge turned provider for the match's opening goal, 28 minutes into the contest. Following a long ball out of defence the striker threaded a lovely through ball into the path of Brosque, who ran through on goal before unleashing a left foot drive across the face and into the bottom corner.
Despite Sydney's dominance in the second half, a defensive lapse opened the door for Newcastle to draw level in the closing stages.
A clever ball towards the box from substitute Fabio Vignaroli caught the Sydney defence square and an unmarked Song ghosted past his marker before lobbing the ball over Ivan Necevski to tie the scores in the 73rd minute.
A Craig Moore own goal has helped North Queensland wrap up its' pre-season with a 1-0 win over state rivals Brisbane at Townsville's Tony Ireland Stadium on Sunday.
In a tense stand-off, Moore failed to control Jeremy Brockie's cross in the 87th minute, accidentally diverting the ball into the back of the net past Roar 'keeper Liam Reddy.
Aside from the result, which was the Fury's second pre-season win heading into its maiden Hyundai A-League campaign, the North Queenslanders will take plenty of heart from solid shifts by Robbie Fowler and David Williams.
Fowler appears to be rapidly building up his fitness for the season opener after playing 60 minutes in this match, following shorter appearances in games against Wolverhampton and the Glory last week.
Williams, on loan from Danish club Brondby for a year, had the 5000-strong crowd buzzing as he linked effectively with Fowler, terrorising the Roar's defence in the first hit-out against the side he left at the end of the 2006-07 season.