A-League week 25 round-up

Tony Feder

Central Coast Mariners snuck into second place on a tight weekend across the A-League.

Friday March 28: Brisbane Roar 2 - Melbourne Heart 1

Down a man, Brisbane still beat Heart on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium.

Saturday March 29: Central Coast Mariners 2 - Western Sydney Wanderers 1

Bernie Ibini scored in injury time to give Central Coast Mariners a win and second place on Saturday at Central Coast Stadium. The 2-1 defeat of Western Sydney Wanderers allowed the Mariners to leapfrog into the A-League's second Champions League position and get a leg up for a bye into the semifinal round. First half goals from Justin Rose and Nikolai Topor-Stanley left the game level until Ibini put in a pass from Storm Roux at the death. Both sides will return to the Champions League midweek before their penultimate domestic fixtures with Central Coast hosting Beijing Guoan on Tuesday April 1 in Group F. The Wanderers must travel to Kawasaki Frontale on April 1 in their effort to stay among the advancing teams in Group H. Back in the A-League, the race for second place will recommence when Western Sydney host Brisbane Roar and the Mariners travel to face Perth Glory on Saturday April 5.

Saturday March 29: Melbourne Victory 1 - Sydney FC 1

Melbourne Victory finished the weekend in fifth place after they failed to defeat Sydney FC in a 1-1 result at AAMI Park. James Troisi's 65th minute goal was enough to cancel out Joel Chianese's 48th minute opener but not enough to take all three points for the home side. Doing so would have kept the Victory on pace with victorious Central Coast Mariners, but instead the Melbourne side stayed below Western Sydney Wanderers and dropped past Adelaide United before the weekend was complete. Sydney nearly stole the game back with a late Alessandro Del Piero free kick but Lawrence Thomas made the crucial save and saved the Victory's single point. Melbourne must play at Yokohama F. Marinos on Wednesday April 2 in the Champions League's Group G before returning to the A-League for a Saturday April 5 game at Newcastle Jets. Sydney, who currently occupy the sixth position, will be hoping for a Victory result against the Jets, whom the Sky Blues lead by a single point. Meanwhile, Sydney will host Wellington Phoenix at the Allianz Stadium in next weekend's final game.

Sunday March 30: Wellington Phoenix 0 - Adelaide United 1

Ernie Merrick's Wellington Phoenix are not mathematically eliminated from finals contention, but they are on the doorstep after a home loss to Adelaide United over the weekend. Marcelo Carrusca's penalty just before the hour gave the visiting Reds all three points and pushed the Phoenix to a position of needing to win both of its final two games and requiring losses for Sydney FC in each of its final two regular season encounters. The season's penultimate match will determine Wellington's fate as they travel to Sydney to play the Sky Blues on Sunday April 6. Anything but a win will end the possibility of extending this season for Wellington. Adelaide, on the other hand, moved up to fourth place on goal difference and will have a real chance to challenge for second or third place in hosting Melbourne Heart on Friday night April 4.

Sunday March 30: Perth Glory 2 - Newcastle Jets 1

Back-to-back goals late in the game propelled Perth Glory to an unlikely 2-1 defeat of Newcastle Jets at the nib Stadium. Adam Taggart's league-leading fourteenth goal came in the 62nd minute and seemed to provide the vital margin for the visiting Jets. Yet Nebojsa Marinkovic and Chris Harold scored in the 84th and 85th minutes, respectively, to give the Glory two chances to avoid the wooden spoon. The loss was particularly damaging for Newcastle, who stood to slip past Sydney on goal difference. Instead, the Jets sit in seventh place even with the league's expected golden boot winner. Newcastle host Melbourne Victory on Saturday April 5 with everything on the line. The Glory will welcome Central Coast Mariners on April 5 for the final game in Perth this season.

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