Melbourne Heart scored for the first time since Week 2, Wellington Phoenix got an injury-time equalizer and Perth Glory extended its unbeaten streak to six are all story lines that could have been interesting this week in the A-League. Instead, more dramatic sequences put all three of the aforementioned clubs in the loss column, elevating both familiar and debutant heroes in the process. Here's how Week 7 went down:
Friday November 22: Brisbane Roar 3 - Western Sydney Wanderers 1
Saturday November 23: Sydney FC 2 - Wellington Phoenix 1
For the second time in three weeks, Sydney FC had a defender sent off. And yet, for the third consecutive week, the Sky Blues managed to win anyway. Pedj Bojic's second half dismissal came with a 1-0 lead for the home side, thanks to Richard Garcia's brilliant first goal with the club. But when Kenny Cunningham scored from a corner for Wellington Phoenix in the first minute of injury time, it looked like Bojic's dismissal would cost Sydney all three points. Enter Ranko Despotovic, the Sky Blues' 30-year-old Serbian striker, just signed last week and only in Australia for six days. A second half substitute, Despotovic countered deep into stoppage time, accompanying Seb Ryall on a desperate last attempt to score a second. Ryall did the hard work before feeding Despotovic with nothing to do but beat the goalkeeper for a stunning and important win for Sydney. The Sky Blues set the pace for third place, though they were caught later in the weekend by Newcastle Jets. The loss of the point is cruel for Wellington, who remain in ninth place.
Saturday November 23: Melbourne Victory 3 - Adelaide United 0
Melbourne Victory earned the most comprehensive result of the round with a throttling of old rivals Adelaide United, despite playing the second half a man down. Adrian Leijer was sent off with a second yellow card just before half-time and when Adelaide were awarded a penalty in the 66th minute, it looked like the game might draw even. But Nathan Coe saved Cirio's spot kick and the tide turned for the Victory. Kosta Barbarouses, fresh back from international duty with New Zealand scored the opener before assisting on Archie Thompson's goal mid-way through the second half. Mitch Nichols finished Adelaide off in the 76th minute, sending the Reds reeling and providing a very nice response for the Melbourne side after their hard-fought loss to Western Sydney last weekend. Kevin Muscat was extremely unhappy about the referees but the more important story from the game was his ability to motivate his players to put last week behind them and put their best foot forward at the Etihad Stadium. The Victory are comfortably among finals teams while Adelaide, despite all their flair, are only clear of Wellington and Heart.
Saturday November 23: Perth Glory 1 - Central Coast Mariners 2
Phil Moss debuted for Central Coast Mariners on Saturday night and picked up a dramatic win. Jamie Maclaren gave the hosts a first half lead with a brilliant chip from just outside the box in the 25th minute. Ten minutes later, a nice sequence spearheaded by Marcos Flores resulted in a poor clearance and an open shot from distance for Michael McGlinchey. The Kiwi international did not miss and the game stood level for the better part of an hour afterward. Injuries dominated the proceedings until injury-time as William Gallas, Scott Jamieson and Nick Montgomery each departed under various degrees of assistance. Jamieson was the most serious, having ruptured his achilles tendon, and doing so after the Glory had already used its full complement of substitutes. A minute into stoppage time, Mitchell Duke calmly volleyed in the dramatic winner, stunning the Glory and giving Moss a memorable first game in charge. With a game in hand, the Mariners edge past Perth into sixth place.
Sunday November 24: Newcastle Jets 3 - Melbourne Heart 1
The weekend came to a close on Sunday in Newcastle with the Jets riding an Adam Taggart hat-trick to an easy victory over Melbourne Heart at the Hunter Stadium. A poor first half from both sides ended when Taggart scored his first on a fantastic shot from just outside the box in the 38th minute. The second half was better from both sides, at least on the score sheet, as Taggart picked up his second just ten minutes after the break. Heart scored only its third goal of the season and first since Week 2 when Andrea Migliorini's free kick was deflected past Mark Birighitti in the 58th minute. Taggart scored his third four minutes later to end any hopes of what would have been an unlikely comeback from the Heart and secured three points for the third consecutive week for the Jets. In fact, despite difficulty scoring in earlier rounds, Newcastle is unbeaten in six, dating to an opening day loss at Sydney FC. Meanwhile, Heart are a shambles and remain winless on the season.