A-League Winners and Losers: Merrick's revenge as Castro proves his class

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Only three games over the weekend but plenty of talking points...

In a split A-League round, the three games that did take place more than delivered.

From Sydney FC staying in the Premiers Plate race and Ernie Merrick getting some revenge over Kevin Muscat to Diego Castro giving Warren Joyce more cause for concern.

Round 21 might not be over, but there are already plenty of winners and losers.

Check them all out below...

  1. Winner: Sydney FC

    A crucial 2-0 win over Adelaide United on Friday night has kept the Sky Blues in the hunt for the Premiers Plate.

    Perth Glory's draw with Melbourne City on Sunday leaves Sydney FC six points behind in second with the two set to clash in a few weeks time.

    While the result will please Steve Corica, the sight of Iranian striker Reza Ghoochannejhad scoring for the first time along with young midfielder Cameron Devlin would have surely brought a smile to his face.

    Though Ghoochannejhad scored, the assist from Adam Le Fondre was all class and suggests the pair can form a deadly duo up top.

  2. Loser: Reds limping to finish line

    With their spot in the top six all but secure, Adelaide United have taken their foot off the gas in recent weeks. 

    Now without a goal in their past two games, the Reds also had to play with a makeshift defence on Friday with no recognised centre-backs available.

    New striker Jordy Thomassen is yet to score after four appearances with Marco Kurz left with plenty to think about over the coming weeks. 

    The Reds, however, seem more than content to settle for a spot in the six rather than push and put pressure on the likes of Victory and Sydney FC.

    “Our aim, our goal is to reach the finals,” Kurz said.

    “At the moment we’ll stay at the place four and that for us is a very good position."

  3. Winner: Ernie Merrick

    The master and apprentice faced off again on Saturday with Ernie Merrick getting some much-needed revenge over his former protege Kevin Muscat.

    After falling in last season's grand final to Muscat, Merrick masterminded a vital 2-0 win for Newcastle Jets over Melbourne Victory on the weekend.

    While Victory bossed possession, the Jets showed desperation in defence and enough sharpness in attack to claim all three points.

    The win keeps Newcastle in the hunt for finals football and was a timely coaching reminder from Merrick, who was all too happy to shake hands with Muscat post-game. 

    Victory have now failed to win their past four games and are all but out of the Premiers Plate race with a top-two finish now their priority. 

  4. Loser: GMHBA Stadium

    Melbourne Victory fans have clearly gone cold on Geelong with just 8,039 showing up in sweltering conditions on Saturday.

    With transport issues holding fans up, GMHBA Stadium didn't make for much of a fortress for Victory and it's an experiment that may have reached its expiration date ahead of Western United's introduction. 

    Victory have won just one of their six games at the venue and after drawing 21,000 fans to the venue back in 2015, have now attracted consecutive crowds of just 8,000 there.

    Visiting coach Merrick was also less than impressed with the stadium's facilities.

    “Our changing room was like a cupboard, it was like Harry Potter’s changing room,” Merrick said.

    “It was absolutely tiny and there was no air conditioner. We were crammed into a tiny little place.

    "That’s not Victory’s fault, that’s Kardinia Park and it’s a real disappointment that we had to change and get ready in a horrible little hole of a changing room for an A-League match.

    "It’s really not good enough. It was roasting and it was cramped. It’s just not good enough; we have made a complaint with the commissioner and hopefully, something will be done about it."

  5. Winner: Diego Castro

    With Perth Glory staring down the barrel of a shock defeat, it was no real surprise to see Diego Castro calmly step up in injury-time and deliver a stunning strike to salvage a draw.

    The 37-year-old has lost none of his class this season and continues to prove an invaluable x-factor for Tony Popovic's side.

    Castro now has five goals and three assists from just 926 minutes of football this campaign. 

    Against City, he created a game-high three chances and popped up when it mattered most with another piece of magic. 

    The A-League should really be cherishing the Spaniard while it has him with this season set to be his last.  

  6. Loser: Melbourne City

    Leading 2-0 with five minutes of regular time to go, Melbourne City fans must surely have thought the three points were theirs on Sunday.

    But Warren Joyce's side simply couldn't hang on with City now winless in their past six matches.

    While they did take on Glory with a makeshift defence, the excuses must be wearing very thin for the City faithful.  

    Joyce's position as coach also must remain under the spotlight with the nature of the draw surely feeling like a heavy defeat for the coach and the club.

    On the bright side for City, Jamie Maclaren's bright start continued with the striker now boasting five goals from his first four games.