A-League Review: Premier's Plate goes down to the wire as Central Coast & Brisbane Roar cement top two spots

The race for the A-League premiership will go to the final round with the Mariners facing a tough trip to Wellington Phoenix while the Roar meet bottom club Gold Coast
ANALYSIS
By Ben Somerford

Results

Melbourne Victory 3-0 Wellington Phoenix, Newcastle Jets 1-2 Brisbane Roar, Central Coast Mariners 1-0 Adelaide United, Melbourne Heart 2-2 Sydney FC, Gold Coast United 3-0 Perth Glory

THE WEEKEND STORY

Central Coast and Brisbane Roar confirmed their places in the all-important top two spots on the A-League table ahead of the finals. The Mariners were hardly convincing as they recorded just their second win in eight with a narrow 1-0 home victory over struggling Adelaide United, while the Roar spurned a host of chances, including a penalty, before Mitch Nichols' 81st-minute winner to triumph 2-1 at Newcastle Jets and ensure the Premier's Plate race goes to the final weekend. Melbourne Heart sealed their first-ever finals berth, while Sydney and the Jets will face off for the last spot in the top six.

THE STANDINGS | Top Four

  P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Central Coast
26 14 6 6
38 23 +15 48
2 Brisbane Roar
26 13 7
6 48 27 +21 46
3 Perth Glory 26 12 4 10 36 33 +3 40
4 Wellington 26 12 4 10 33 30 +3 40

PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND

Shannon Cole

Sydney FC

The right-back has been out of the picture for most of the season with the Sky Blues but he showed his quality after coming off the bench in the 2-2 draw at Melbourne Heart. Cole scored two second-half goals, on 66 and 77 minutes to rescue a point for the Sky Blues who face Newcastle in the final round of the season, where they must win to claim a top six spot.

QUOTES OF THE WEEKEND

"Seven weeks ago we were 11 points behind the Mariners and they had a game in hand and in the last seven weeks we have played every team in the six bar Heart away from home and we have won all of them."
-Brisbane boss Ange Postecoglou after his side's win over Newcastle

“We’ve got a great record in Wellington, a fantastic record against them and a very good record over there since I’ve been here so we’ll go there very very confident to get what we need."
-Mariners boss Graham Arnold ahead of their final round journey to Wellington

"If you really want to be good in the finals then we have to be good in both halves."
-Heart coach John van 't Schip after his side blew a two-goal half-time lead. The 2-2 draw did seal their finals place.

THE NUMBERS

1 - Number of games Gold Coast have won in 2012
7 - Number of games Brisbane have gone undefeated
2 - Points difference between leaders Central Coast and Brisbane
19 - Number of goals Besart Berisha has scored this season to equal Shane Smeltz's record
1,720 - The crowd in attendance for what could be Gold Coast's last ever home game

PHOTO OF THE WEEKEND

Glory & pain
| Two second-half goals
from Shannon Cole

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