John van 't Schip guided the league's bottom-placed team to their first victory of the campaign, while Frank Farina is under renewed pressure to produce in the Harbour City1. Where to now for relieved Heart? (Iain Strachan @ AAMI Park)
So Melbourne Heart know how to win after all. We didn't think they had it in them. Finally enough went right for the team in red and white, and wrong for their opponents, to register a first victory of the season. But will there be more on the way? Next up is a trip to face in-form Adelaide United, who dispatched Western Sydney on Sunday to make it six successive matches unbeaten. Harry Kewell, Iain Ramsay and Mate Dugandzic all produced impressive performances in the win over the Jets, and will need to do so again to have any chance of making it two in a row. John van 't Schip's team were rarely tested by a weakened Newcastle, and are likely to experience a far more searching examination at Coopers Stadium.
2. Brisbane Roar getting used to playing a man down (Michael Washbourne @ nib Stadium)
Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe joked in his post-match press conference that Brisbane Roar counterpart Mike Mulvey should consider playing nine men this Friday against Wellington Phoenix. Besart Berisha's first-half red card was the second time in as many weeks the Roar were reduced to 10 men so early in the contest, but Mulvey's side was clearly the better of the two at nib Stadium last Friday night and the league leaders had a serious crack at trying to win maximum points despite their on-field disadvantage.
Brisbane's defence was stronger than a double-brick wall and Glory only managed to put up one serious shot in the second half. The performance of German star Thomas Broich, who pushed through the pain barrier to play out the match with a corked thigh, was also something to marvel at.
Glory managed to keep a clean sheet for the fourth time in five matches and claim a point in the scoreless draw, but Lowe's side missed a golden chance to sneak up a few positions on the table during a round of upsets. The return of marquee signing William Gallas after a seven-game absence with a torn calf muscle was a pleasing sight for Perth fans.
3. Phoenix issue statement of intent (Iain Strachan)
After a sluggish start to life under Ernie Merrick, Wellington have finally clicked, registering four wins and one draw to be unbeaten in five matches. That run has seen them move to within three points of fifth-placed Adelaide, firmly in contention for a berth in the finals. On paper at least, there was always plenty of attacking talent in the Phoenix ranks, but on Saturday they finally showed what they can do if it all comes together. Victory might have been weakened by injuries and absentees, but they still managed to account for Western Sydney last Tuesday, demonstrating the scale of Wellington's achievement in defeating Kevin Muscat's men so comprehensively. It would have been a win to savour for former Victory pair Carlos Hernandez and particularly Merrick, who will now look ahead to the second half of 2013-14 with plenty of optimism.
4. Dark clouds gather again over Sky Blues (John Greco @ Allianz Stadium)
The pressure is starting to ramp up on Sydney FC and coach Frank Farina after another lacklustre performance from the Sky Blues. Contending for second spot just a few weeks ago, Sydney are now out of the top six after a solitary point from their last five matches. Farina accused some of his players of throwing in the towel after going behind to the Central Coast, the first sign things are just not right with a side. It's not last-chance saloon just yet for the Sky Blues but unless they can show some fight and improve fast, a second straight season without finals football is a definite possibility.
Whether you support the Mariners or not, you have to admire their resilience. Given the amount of change and upheaval they've endured this season, you would have forgiven them if their results slipped dramatically. But even with the loss of Michael McGlinchey and Marcos Flores, new coach Phil Moss has got his side ultra competitive and starting to get back to some of their trademark football. They have quietly jumped up to third spot and with Brisbane and Western Sydney starting to get the wobbles the Mariners aren't out of title contention.
5. Adelaide on song at both ends of the pitch (Steve Barrett @ Coopers Stadium)
Adelaide United are the hottest team in the land at present, storming from ninth to fifth on the A-League ladder after backing up their stunning away triumph against the ladder-leading Brisbane Roar with a hard-fought 1-0 win over the second-placed Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday. The Reds' attacking flair and passing prowess are now being complemented by a meatier defence. From chancing their arm as underdogs, now comes the task of dealing with swelling expectation, starting this Sunday against Melbourne Heart.
Wanderers coach Tony Popovic remained buoyant and upbeat despite the setback at Hindmarsh, which followed Tuesday's 3-1 shocker against Melbourne Victory. With a rough section of the draw - three games in eight days - now negotiated, Western Sydney are still second on the ladder but a bounceback win, and perhaps a goal or two, on Australia Day against Perth Glory would be welcomed.
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