It’s going to come down to the wire in the Hyundai A-League, as the Central Coast Mariners close the gap on the Western Sydney Wanderers.
Meanwhile, Melbourne Victory start to lose a little of their footing heading into the final week of action and some more moving and shaking is in order. All this and more in this week’s Hyundai A-League Power Rankings on the View from Avalon.
1. Central Coast Mariners
Graham Arnold’s Central Coast Mariners picked up a vital 2-0 shutout victory over Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide. Daniel McBreen opened up the scoring in the fourth minute of play and Mile Sterjovski slammed the door shut in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time.
Central Coast face a must-win situation against Melbourne Heart on Mar. 30 at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford, but they also need some help from the Newcastle Jets.
2. Western Sydney Wanderers
Central Coast will have Western Sydney Wanderers defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley to thank. His defensive blunder consigned Tony Popovic’s Wanderers to a 1-1 draw with Sydney FC at Parramatta Stadium in Sydney.
Despite a goal from Shannon Cole in the 70th minute, the Wanderers could not complete the comeback. And to add insult to fail, Iacopo La Rocca was sent off in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time in a match that saw both sides play down to 10 men. However, the Wanderers can still clinch the Premiership play if they can at least draw with the Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle on Mar. 29.
3. Brisbane Roar
Mike Mulvey’s Brisbane Roar remain alive in the hunt for a playoff spot after shutting out Melbourne Heart 2-0 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Besart Berisha scored a 12th-minute penalty and Thomas Broich delivered the game-winner in the 31st minute. The Roar will need to defeat Sydney FC on Mar. 28 at Suncorp to potentially clinch a spot in the Finals Series.
4. Perth Glory
Alistair Edwards’s Perth Glory took advantage of a few key absences to score a vital 3-2 victory over Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park in Melbourne. Chris Harold scored a 21st-minute equalizer and Travis Dodd gave the Glory the lead in the 38th minute, but it was Josh Risdon who saved Perth’s season in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time.
However, the job is far from done. Perth need to defeat Adelaide United on Mar. 30 at nib Stadium in Perth and get some help to slip into the top six.
5. Melbourne Victory
Ange Postecoglou’s Melbourne Victory are crashing into the finish line, and that is never a good sign if you are the Victory boss. Their 3-2 defeat to the Perth Glory at home serves as an epitome to how diabolical their defense has been at times during the season.
Adrian Leijer scored in the 13th minute of play and young gun Chris Cristaldo scored an 89th-minute equalizer, but the Victory failed to hold on to what could have been their third-straight draw this season.
All hands will have to be on deck when Melbourne take on Wellington Phoenix on Mar. 31 at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand to close out the 2012-13 A-League regular season.
6. Adelaide United
Michael Valkanis’s Adelaide United had a great chance to leapfrog the Melbourne Victory on Sunday, but they couldn’t do it and were shut out 2-0 by the Central Coast Mariners at Hindmarsh Stadium. The Reds close out the regular season on Mar. 30 against Perth Glory at nib Stadium.
7. Sydney FC
Alessandro Del Piero scored in the 34th minute to give Frank Farina’s Sydney FC a 1-1 draw with the Western Sydney Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium. The Sky Blues can put themselves in a position to qualify for the playoffs if they can beat the Brisbane Roar on Mar. 28 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
8. Newcastle Jets
Gary van Egmond’s Newcastle Jets were off this past week. However, in their match that was pushed to Feb. 27, they defeated the Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium. Adam Taggart opened up the scoring in the 19th minute and Michael Bridges scored the winner in the 44th minute of play. Newcastle face a must-win game on Mar. 29 against the Western Sydney Wanderers at Hunter Stadium.
9. Wellington Phoenix
Chris Greenacre’s Wellington Phoenix were off this past week, but in their match which was pushed to Feb. 27, they fell 2-1 to the Newcastle Jets. Jeremy Brockie scored in the 60th minute of play. The Nix close out their season on Mar. 31 when they host Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium.
10. Melbourne Heart
All John Aloisi’s Melbourne Heart can do at this point is go through the motions, as they fell 2-0 to the Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium. Eliminated from Finals Series contention, the Heart will play for pride as well as the role of spoiler when they face the Central Coast Mariners on Mar. 30 at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford.