It was the story of late winners as the Newcastle Jets and Sydney FC both recorded important victories at the business end of the A-League season.
The Jets were on the back-foot early when Rashid Mahazi gave the away side the lead with his first A-League goal after knocking in Alexander Baumjohann’s free-kick to open the scoring.
Soon after the break, Roy O’Donovan was able to make up for some earlier missed opportunities – slamming home a rocket from the edge of the area to make it nine for the season.
Ernie Merrick’s men continued to take control of the visitors as Dimitri Petratos’ corner was bizarrely diverted into the goals by Vedran Janjetovic with some help from the post.
But the Wanderers wouldn’t be down for long and their young midfielder, Keanu Baccus was the man to pull the visitors back into proceedings with a sweetly hit shot from range.
It wasn’t to be for Western Sydney as youngster Angus Thurgate took full advantage of a mix-up at the back from Brendan Hamill and Tarek Elrich to slot home the winner in the dying moments.
The win for Newcastle keeps their finals hopes alive for another week, closing the gap to five points behind Adelaide who face Wellington later today at Coopers Stadium.
The Jets will look to keep the fire burning for another week when they face the gargantuan task of knocking off first placed, Perth at HBF Park next Sunday.
While for Western Sydney they are now mathematically ruled out of a finals appearance and will look to play spoiler for Sydney FC in the Derby next Saturday night.
Hours later in Sydney, the Big Blue shaped up as an equally important contest for both Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory in the battle for a top two finish.
Sydney got off to a good start when Adam Le Fondre came inches away from giving the home side the lead as his shot was diverted away by the bar.
Moments later, they were rewarded as Brandon O’Neill gathered the ball around 30-yards out before driving a rocket into the top corner gifting the Sky Blues the lead.
However, the Victory were quick to fire back as Keisuke Honda sliced open the Sydney defence to play through Kosta Barbarouses who popped home his 14th goal of the season – taking him one behind Le Fondre and Roy Krishna in the race for the Golden Boot.
The second half saw the intensity drop in the game as chances came few and far between with O’Neill tried to catch Matt Acton off guard from range with a lovely driving effort saved by the Victory gloveman.
Both Ola Toivonen and Elvis Kamsoba had chances of their own to be the hero for the Victory but were unable to give Melbourne the lead late on.
Soon after, Siem De Jong found himself in some space out wide with his cross-finding Milos Ninkovic whose shot was deflected in past Acton to seal a crucial win for the Sky Blues.
However, the game was marred by the poor condition of the SCG which came under further scrutiny when Terry Antonis was forced off the ground with a suspected knee injury.
Sydney now go four points clear of the Victory in second and are still three points behind Perth who face the Mariners later tonight.
Both sides will now focus on their respective Asian Champions League contests as Sydney host Shanghai SIPG on Wednesday night while the Victory travel to China to take on Guangzhou Evergrande.