Mike Mulvey's team got the better of the reigning premiers in a potentially significant encounter, while Melbourne Victory's coach made negative headlines despite his team winning
Mike Mulvey's Brisbane Roar side firmed as one of the competition favourites and returned to the top of the A-League ladder with a hard-fought home win over last year's premiers. Despite starting with a flurry, the hosts were forced to defend their lead against a resurgent Wanderers outfit, only sealing the result in injury time with the third goal. More impressively for the Roar, the performance followed last week's disappointing return in Newcastle, and suggests the Queenslanders have the mental strength and self-belief to go all the way this season.
2. Sydney FC transformed, no panic for Merrick (Adam Lucius @ Allianz Stadium)
So Sydney FC have won three in a row for the first time since 2009. Not bad for a side that apparently had no idea, no creativity, no desire and a clueless coach this time last month. As Frank Farina mused, football is indeed a funny game. This was not the best of Sydney's three wins but it showed they have plenty of ticker. Up 1-0 but down a man after Pedj Bojic's senseless sending off, the Sky Blues showed great composure to recover after conceding an equaliser in the first minute of injury time. Ryall's raid down the right and a lovely pass across the face of goal allowed new signing Ranko Despotovic to slot home the winner about six minutes after getting off the plane from Europe. Farina demands his men fight every minute of the 90 plus more and he's getting that commitment in spades.
Maybe it's the fine New Zealand white wine or the laidback life across the Tasman but Ernie Merrick seems at ease with the world despite not picking up a win this season. The Scotsman is convinced better days are ahead for the Phoenix and it's hard to argue on the strength of this performance. Wellington should have taken at least a point back through Customs and probably all three. Poor finishing cost them dearly but when it finally clicks, a team will pay. Carlos Hernandez is and was a class act in this one and those around him are starting to tune in to the Costa Rican's wavelength. With the All Whites' World Cup campaign over and a host of home games to come over the next month or so, the Nix's season will only get better from here.
3. Kevin Muscat writes his own (juicy) headlines (Iain Strachan @ Etihad Stadium)
Kevin Muscat is going to be better value than Ange Postecoglou in his post-match press conferences. The latter has been on his best behaviour since taking over the Socceroos, smiling for the cameras and making all the right noises. Ange is very good at dealing with the media, having learned the hard way after being ambushed on the air by Australian football's resident zealot Craig Foster in 2006. But, if given the choice, he'd rather be anywhere else than having to explain himself and his team's performances to a pack of ignorant, quote-hungry hacks. He was almost always on message too, saying very little which could detract from a positive performance. Muscat however ensured the 10-man Victory's impressive 3-0 win on Saturday was buried by his entertaining attack on the match officials and Jeronimo Neumann. For those of us hoping reaction stories will write themselves, long may it continue.
4. Mariners off the mark under Moss, Glory face defensive crisis (Michael Washbourne @ nib Stadium)
Central Coast gave new manager Phil Moss the perfect start to his coaching career with a 2-1 away win over Perth Glory. Moss has admitted to having a different management style to his predecessor Graham Arnold, but the Mariners played like nothing had changed and are now back in top-six contention thanks to the last-gasp win. Glory will need to find a new left-back after Scott Jamieson suffered a likely season-ending Achilles tendon injury. With marquee signing William Gallas (calf) also injured and Josh Risdon (knee) out for an extended period, Perth coach Alistair Edwards will have a few sleepless nights ahead of Saturday's clash with Brisbane Roar.
5. Jets v Sky Blues looms as a cracker (Josh Bennett @ Hunter Stadium)
After an indifferent start to their campaign where they found it difficult to score the Jets have now started firing thanks to the brilliance of 20-year-old striker Adam Taggart, who has bagged six goals in the last three games, including a spectacular hat-trick against the Heart. The Jets have only recorded one loss this season, against Sydney FC in the opening round, but the confidence in the Newcastle side is palpable and they will face a Sydney FC side, also buoyed by a turnaround in form. Should be a great clash.
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