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What we learned in the A-League: Wooden spoon going west, horrorshow from Ben Williams

The team from nib Stadium appear doomed to finish at the bottom of the standings after falling to another defeat, while the referee was the centre of attention at AAMI Park

1. Sky Blues pick up points despite failing to convince (Nikola Podzer @ Allianz Stadium)

Are Sydney FC suddenly championship contenders? Surely not. But if so, is it a form of 'luck' or a form of 'fortune favours the brave'?

A team that has been struggling with consistency this season and not playing some great football started the week in fourth spot.

Their past two home games were of great importance, against cross-town rivals, the Western Sydney Wanderers and top-of-the-table Brisbane Roar.

They didn't lose either but grinded out a win and a draw. Even though Sydney FC fans would have taken the four points with open arms, the worrying fact has to be the football they've played.

In neither of the two games did they out-play their opponents, with controversial refereeing decisions going their way. In the derby, a suspect penalty and now against the Roar a disputable, to say the least, red card.  

Next up, the free flowing and scoring Adelaide United, another test of the Sydney FC resolve. Another win for Frank Farina's men and they're right in the hunt, surprisingly enough.

2. Wanderers remember to lock the door, Reds keep going (John Greco @ Pirtek Stadium)

Western Sydney have all but relinquished the Premiers' Plate to Brisbane but they may have fixed up their defensive problems which had marred their last month.

The Wanderers had conceded a number of sloppy goals through uncharacteristic mistakes recently but showed in the ACL win over Guizhou followed by Saturday night's stalemate with Adelaide they are on the improve.

The Reds tried everything to unlock the Wanderers rearguard but the home side always came up with an answer. It's just what coach Tony Popovic will have wanted to see with the A-League finals just around the corner.

Josep Gombau also won't be disheartened by the result and performance despite fact his side have dropped to sixth spot after the draw.

The Reds controlled proceedings for long periods against the Wanderers and on another day would have claimed all three points. If they can continue their imposing home record the Reds will certainly play finals and will deservedly be a genuine contender if they can keep the likes of Marcelo Carrusca, Fabio Ferreira and Sergio Cirio fit and in peak form.
@grecs7

3. Mariners coming good at just the right time
(Hamish Neal @ Bluetongue Stadium)

Give them time. The Central Coast Mariners seem to be thriving in the last week or so having gotten into the rhythm of their AFC Champions League campaign and A-League run-in. Saturday night's win over Newcastle in a fiery F3 Derby coupled with the Sanfrecce result on Tuesday should buoy the spirits of Phil Moss' side before they meet Bejing Guoan on Wednesday.

Kim Seung-Yong continues to work better with his team-mates but the Mariners must stop giving away cheap ball in the midfield and cut out the silly fouls which can hurt a side in Asia especially. Clayton Zane's side was dominant in possession but too often isolated their target men like Emile Heskey with support players either in the wrong spots or non-existent. Zane is doing a good job, and finals or no finals deserves a crack next season as the permanent coach.

'You can't be serious ref!' | The Wellington players protest Sigmund's sending off
@hamishneal

4. Lowe's hopes take a hit as Glory head toward wooden spoon
(Michael Washbourne @ nib Stadium)

Archie Thompson's last-gasp winner could prove vital to Melbourne Victory's chances of finishing second on the A-League table at season's end. Victory moved above Western Sydney by one point after the 2-1 win over Perth Glory and the club is well aware just how important that second placing will be to their overall title chances. Coach Kevin Muscat made four changes to the side which drew with Jeonbuk Motors in the Asian Champions League last Wednesday and more rotations can be expected this week when Victory confronts Yokohama F. Marinos on Tuesday, before Saturday's top-of-the-table clash with Brisbane Roar.
 
Glory's finals chances are over and the struggling club appears destined for their first wooden spoon as the gap between them and their rivals increases on a weekly basis. Interim coach Kenny Lowe has won just two games since taking over in December and he will need results in the final four matches to have any chance of retaining the top job next season.
@mj_Wash

5. Williams and co. get everything wrong
(Iain Strachan)

Ben Williams isn't the most popular referee with A-League supporters at the best of times, but on Sunday he and his assistants produced one of the worst displays by a group of match officials in A-League history. There didn't seem to be a single significant decision the ref and his linesmen didn't get wrong, be it the awarding of penalties, failing to spot Patrick Kisnorbo's blatant handball to prevent a goal or harshly sending off Ben Sigmund for one of the softest second yellow cards you are likely to see. Even the little things, like not spotting shirt grabs which interfered with counterattacks, off-sides and pushes given or not given. Maybe there was some sort of bad refereeing vortex encompassing AAMI Park. That would be the most convenient explanation for the calamitous officials.
@IainStrachan

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