A-League Winners and Losers: Mariners reach new low as Muscat sinks Joyce

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The weekend began with a bang in Gosford in what summed up a disastrous season for the Mariners

Just when you thought a season couldn't get any worse for Central Coast Mariners they concede five goals at home, get two players sent off for dissent and all but wrap up the wooden spoon with a 5-3 defeat to Brisbane Roar.

The pressure is unsurprisingly mounting on coach Mike Mulvey and it was disappointing to see him blame the referees post-match for his player's inexcusable behaviour. 

Elsewhere, Sydney FC scraped their way to second on a poor Campbelltown pitch, Kevin Muscat pulled a rabbit out his hat against Warren Joyce in the Melbourne derby and Tarek Elrich came back to haunt his former coach.

Check out all our winners and losers below...

  1. Winner: Eric Bautheac

    Brisbane's French winger has shown glimpses of brilliance in the A-League over the past 18 months but proved just how good he can be on Friday night against the Mariners.

    After scoring a stunning bicycle kick, Bautheac then laid on an assist for Tobias Mikkelsen late in the first half and ended the match having created a game-high three chances.

    With his contract at the Roar set to expire, the attacker could be hot A-League property by the end of the season but Brisbane fans will be bemoaning the fact they haven't seen more performances like this. 

  2. Loser: Mike Mulvey

    A disastrous season got even worse for the Mariners on Friday and their coach was left reeling in the spotlight.

    With two of his players sent off for dissent, Mulvey attempted to shift blame on to the referees in what made for a poor look.

    "I think the referee brought a lot of the situation on himself," he said.

    "The same way we look at the way we’ve performed, hopefully, the A-League has a look at the way the officiating happened.

    "It looks like there’s a predetermined situation where Matt Simon is a bully and he never gets a free-kick because of that and it’s just absolutely ridiculous. You need to referee the game in the way that you see it."

    If Ernie Merrick got fined $3000 for a quip about VAR taking a cup of tea, Mulvey should ready himself for an even more severe punishment.

    Questions must also be asked of his players lashing out at the referee like that. Sure the club are struggling but there's no excuse for behaviour like that and Mulvey shouldn't be allowing it - let alone defending it. 

  3. Winner: Kevin Muscat

    Playing with 10 men for more than an hour, Muscat's Victory somehow walked away the unhappier of the two sides after a 1-1 draw in Saturday's Melbourne derby.

    Despite the numerical disadvantage, Victory effectively shut City out and scored with their one shot on target.

    Muscat's substitutions and ability to get every inch out of his players proved decisive as Warren Joyce was left in a deeper hole.

    Under pressure from the club, Joyce couldn't inspire City's attack despite having an extra man with the side never looking likely of grabbing a second goal.

    "They made our job easier," Thomas Deng said post-match.

    "For us it was just shuffling, trying to stay narrow, getting the boys in midfield coming back in to help the backline. It was a pleasing night for us."

    Though Victory didn't win the game and slipped further behind in the Premiers Plate race, Muscat will be feeling like a winner this week having undone his rival manager like that. 

  4. Loser: Campbelltown Stadium

    It was always a weird decision for Wellington Phoenix to play a home game in Sydney's west and the choice back-fired in the stands and on the pitch.

    Just 5,115 showed up on Saturday, well below the Nix's average this season, as Mark Rudan's men lost 1-0 to Sydney FC.

    The loss leaves Wellington at risk of falling out of the top six and their cause wasn't helped by a patchy Campbelltown pitch.

    "Players' welfare is important as well. It was the first time anyone had played on that surface as well, from my understanding," Rudan said.

    "There wasn't enough time for the grass to be laid for us to play."

    It wasn't a good look for a venue the Nix certainly won't be returning to anytime soon. 

  5. Winner: Tarek Elrich

    Having seen his side lose late in a number of games this season, the Wanderers defender took it upon himself to flip the narrative on Sunday against Perth Glory.

    His long-range effort deep into injury-time salvaged Western Sydney a point and showed the squad are now ready to fight until the final whistle this season.

    That spirit had been severely lacking from Markus Babbel's side, but Elrich's effort suggests the club have finally turned a corner as they prepare to return home next season.

    “I’m just glad to get the result. It feels like a win," Elrich told Fox Sports post-match.

    "The majority of the games this season we were in Perth’s position but slipped up.

    "But to come back against a quality team and get a point, it’s better than nothing and it shows we have slightly turned things around."

  6. Loser: Two clubs that forgot how to score

    Newcastle Jets and Adelaide United have both struggled in front of goal this season and those shortcomings were exposed on Sunday.

    Both managed just two shots on target with the Jets boasting 20% shot accuracy and the Reds 15% - who did have seven shots blocked.

    All in all, it made for a very boring affair with Newcastle failing to push their case for a top-six spot. 

    Adelaide meanwhile may be finals bound but question marks remain over their new striker Jordy Thomassen, who is yet to open his account in the A-League and hasn't looked close to doing so to date.