Yet another exciting Saturday saw two games go right to the wire in performances where the stars stood up when the chips were down and all hope seemed lost.
Wellington Phoenix 3 – 2 Central Coast Mariners
A feeling of ecstasy for the Wellington Phoenix and further agony for the Central Coast Mariners who were so close to recording their first win of the season.
From the onset it did not seem this would be much of a test for the Phoenix who had destroyed everything in their path both home and away, winning the hearts of football fans all over both countries.
This was a different kind of test for the Phoenix, who found themselves two goals down at half time after goals from Matt Simon and Andrew Hoole had Mariners fans starting to dream.
But a 46th minute red card to Mariners defender Kye Rowles flipped this game on its head.
The defender was sent off for a last man challenge on Roy Krishna inside the Wellington penalty area, allowing the Fijian international to get his side back into the game despite Mariners goalkeeper Ben Kennedy getting a hand to it.
Wellington were awarded a second penalty minutes later after Jacob Melling fouled Krishna inside the box and just like that the scores were level as Krishna completed his brace.
The Phoenix used the extra man to their advantage forcing the Mariners into desperate defending.
The task proved to be too much for the traveling Marines who conceded a third in the 65th minute with David Williams continuing his good form, scoring from close range to put the Phoenix in front and complete the comeback.
It was a significant win for the Phoenix who have closed the gap between them and the teams above them on the table, sitting four points off Melbourne Victory in second.
They travel to Melbourne next week to face the Victory while the Mariners host Melbourne City on Wednesday night.
Melbourne Victory 2 – 1 Newcastle Jets
It was Newcastle’s second consecutive game in Melbourne and like their match against Melbourne City the week before, they walk away asking what could have been.
Ernie Merrick had praised his side for their resilience and team spirit despite results not going their way.
A win would have seen them put pressure on the teams above as they looked to stake their claim as a side capable to playing finals.
In what was a goalless first half neither side had many chances with Newcastle doing well to limit the service to Ola Toivonen.
It took a moment of brilliance from the Victory players to open the deadlock with Kenny Athiu teeing up Terry Antonis whose left footed curled attempt found its way into the back of the net.
Elvis Kamsoba and Kaine Sheppard, formerly of NPL Victoria’s Avondale, were brought on as substitutes for their respective sides, joining former Heidelberg striker Kenny Athiu on the field.
The move proved to be a masterstroke from Merrick as Sheppard found the equaliser in a goal mouth scramble with only 12 minutes to go.
In their time of need it was only fitting Victory’s stars stood up and that’s exactly what James Troisi did, taking matters into his own hands to score the winner from a position one would normally cross from.
The goal coming after a moment of skilful brilliance from substitute Raul Baena.
A much needed win for the Victory which keeps them in second while for the Jets the loss proves costly as the gap between themselves and Adelaide United in sixth extends to seven points.