Wanderers spring Reds surprise

Western Sydney made it back-to-back wins for the first time this season when they upset Adelaide United 3-1 at Coopers Stadium.

Wanderers opened up a 10-point gap above bottom side Central Coast Mariners, who they beat last time out.

They were inspired by Dutchman Roly Bonevacia, who set up their first goal for Oriol Riera and restored their advantage after Ryan Kitto had levelled.

Adelaide saw Craig Goodwin fail from the penalty spot, with keeper Vedran Janjetovic making a good save.

Riera stooped to head home Bonevacia's free-kick and give the visitors the lead on 12 minutes, while four minutes later Janjetovic kept them in front with the penalty stop.

The Reds missed that chance to equalise, with the penalty having been given for Brendan Hamill's trip on Jordy Thomassen, but a minute before the break Kitto made it 1-1.

He lashed home after Janjetovic came to punch Michael Jakobsen's lofted ball into the box.

Bonevacia had a slice of luck for his goal, with the ball taking a big deflection off Ryan Strain and leaving keeper Paul Izzo wrong-footed.

He claimed his second assist of the match 19 minutes from time, lifting a clever pass in for Abraham Majok to lob the onrushing Izzo.

It's the first time since February 2018 Wanderers have won consecutive matches, but their chances of rallying to make the Finals Series are slim – they are 12 points behind sixth-placed Wellington, with eight rounds to go.

The damage was done over a 10-game spell starting in mid-December when they picked up just two points.

Adelaide are 6/4 to win their next game against Newcastle, who are 7/4 with the draw 23/10.

The Reds are 17/2 to win 1-0.

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Maclaren takes positives from City bow

A goal on his starting return to the A-League delighted Melbourne City striker Jamie Maclaren.

The Australia international was brought in for his bow alongside Tottenham Hotspur loanee Shayon Harrison in City's 1-1 draw at home to Adelaide United.

Maclaren scored with a close-range backheel to cancel out Craig Goodwin's header for United.

It came when Luke Brattan capitalised on a tired Adelaide clearance, forcing a turnover from keeper Paul Izzo and delivering a low cross that Maclaren converted.

The striker said it had been a dream start, adding: "It was a great ball from Brattsy; obviously scoring is great and it's been a tough week for us. To score in front of my family is amazing.

"It was a bit nitty gritty but my job was to press hard and try to force mistakes, there are positives to take from it."

Coach Warren Joyce felt City had started slowly but then worked their way into the game and created good chances.

"We've played well the past few weeks and often got no points, but Shay (Harrison) did well, a good performance from (Maclaren), he's had a lot of jet lag and had to integrate into a new group, so they've done brilliantly," he said.

City missed the chance to leapfrog United into the top four. But they were at least able to maintain their two-point gap, having lost their previous two games against Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC without scoring.

They now have a spell of four away games out of five rounds, including the Melbourne derby against Victory on 23rd February.

Melbourne City are 9/1 to win the Grand Final.

Adelaide United are 8/13 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 4/1 with the draw 3/1.

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Kurz frustrated by Reds’ display

Marco Kurz says Adelaide United failed to follow his instructions in the second half when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Melbourne City.

The Reds coach was happy with what he saw from his team in the first half-hour at AAMI Park, and they took the lead through Craig Goodwin's header.

Had they heeded the coach's half-time advice, they may well have held on to earn a win that would moved them to within three points of third-placed Sydney FC.

But Adelaide conceded a goal to new City signing Jamie Maclaren, being punished for their inability to play out from the back.

Kurz said he felt the draw was a fair result, but added: "I think in the second-half we played not so well and not good enough for the victory. I think we started well and played well for first 30 minutes and then we lost a little bit of the control of the game but we scored a goal.

"At half-time we said we must look forward and play the ball to our offensive players, but it was completely different, we played more back."

The draw kept United inside the top four with nine games left in the regular season, and if they can remain there they will have a home game in the Finals Series.

Kurz gave Dutch recruit Jordy Thomassen his debut and saw him play the full 90 minutes.

"At this point the performance was okay, I think he has enough space to improve again and to adapt but he's a good person," said the coach. "And I hope he can give us a lot of quality in the future."

United have now suffered just one defeat in 10 matches, and the draw extended their unbeaten run to five games.

Adelaide are 12/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Reds are 8/13 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 4/1 with the draw 3/1.

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City hit back to hold Adelaide

New signing Jamie Maclaren found the net on his Melbourne City debut to earn a 1-1 draw at home to Adelaide United.

The Australia international grabbed an equaliser at AAMI Park with a cheeky close-range finish to keep City two points off the top four.

Adelaide took a first-half lead through Craig Goodwin's ninth goal of the season, his header ruled to have crossed the line as it came back off the woodwork.

Maclaren got on the scoresheet midway through the second half on his return to the A-League.

It came from a turnover as Adelaide keeper Paul Izzo failed to get the ball clear from his six-yard box and Luke Brattan squared the ball, Maclaren guiding it home with a back-heel.

Adelaide, who brought in Jordy Thomassen for his debut as one of three changes to the starting side, started the better of the teams.

Maclaren and Brattan had efforts that flashed past the far post later in the half, but it was United who broke the deadlock.

Thomassen fed Mileusnic and when he whipped in his cross it was met by the head of Goodwin.

The visitors lost Mileusnic to an ankle injury just before the hour mark, just after surviving a close call.

Scott Galloway failed to get proper distance on his headed clearance and the ball fell invitingly for Shayon Harrison who blazed over the bar.

United extended their unbeaten streak to five matches, and closed the gap to third-placed Sydney FC to five points.

They will look for a fourth consecutive home victory when they host struggling Western Sydney next time out.

Adelaide are 12/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Reds are 8/13 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 4/1 with the draw 3/1.

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Wanderers end victory wait

Western Sydney earned their first win in two months as they scored in each half to beat Central Coast 2-0 at Spotless Stadium.

The meeting between the A-League's bottom two teams went the way of Markus Babbel's side by the same scoreline as their last victory on 7th December.

And it leaves the Mariners in increasing danger of finishing bottom of the table for the second straight season.

The Gosford club have a six-point deficit at the foot of the table, having failed to take any of their chances against Wanderers and having fallen to a ninth straight away defeat.

The clean sheet was a welcome boost for Babbel's team, who had conceded 11 goals in their last three games.

Mariners keeper Ben Kennedy made a diving save to deny Oriol Riera midway through the first half, and the Spaniard was out of luck again at the end of the half when he headed against the post from close range.

Wanderers did take the lead just before the interval, though, as Tarek Elrich sent in a curling cross which eluded everyone including Kennedy as it bounced off the woodwork and into the net.

It was the 32-year-old's first goal in Wanderers colours and first in two years.

The Mariners threatened an equaliser on 56 minutes when Matt Millar had a volley tipped over by keeper Vedran Janjetovic.

Once they doubled their lead 13 minutes from time, though, the hosts looked secure.

It arrived when Roly Bonevacia put Jaushua Sotirio into space on the counter, and the attacker finished coolly to Kennedy's left.

Wanderers lost Kwame Yeboa to a suspected groin injury early in the first half.

Western Sydney are 4/1 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 8/13 with the draw 3/1.

Wanderers are 16/1 to win 1-0.

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Wilkinson says Premiership still on

Defender Alex Wilkinson believes Sydney FC can still capture the A-League premiership, despite a damaging defeat to struggling Brisbane Roar.

With Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory both staying consistent at the top of the table, the Sky Blues can ill afford to drop points.

But their 2-1 loss at Suncorp Stadium to the Roar – who had only one win all season going into the game – was their second in three outings.

Wilkinson has vowed Steve Corica's side will "push hard" to overcome the setbacks and go on to claim a third consecutive Premiers' Plate – something that would be a league first.

"We'll have to win most of the remaining games," said Wilkinson. "By no means is it out of reach but we need to pick up points over the next nine games to get up there which we're more than capable of – we can definitely go on a run."

The Sky Blues had taken the lead against Brisbane through Danny De Silva 10 minutes into the second half.

Tobias Mikkelsen equalised for the home side and youngster Dylan Wenzel-Halls scored an injury time winner.

Both of the Roar's goals were poor ones to concede, Darren Davies' team able to capitalise on loose marking and carelessness in possession.

Wilkinson said: "We got sloppy, started giving away possession too easily and they got a bit of confidence. The first goal gave them a real boost and that was down to us taking our foot off the pedal and not being clinical enough when we needed."

The Sky Blues have three home games in their next four matches, starting with next Sunday's clash with bottom side Central Coast.

Sydney FC are 7/2 to win the Grand Final.

The Sky Blues are 1/4 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 8/1 with the draw 11/2.

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Popovic tipped to win trophy

Tony Popovic could be on the way to earning his first A-League championship as a coach, believes the keeper who won the Asian Champions League under him.

Ante Covic, who was player of the tournament when Western Sydney became the first Australian team to lift the ACL trophy in 2014, is impressed with the way Popovic has transformed Perth Glory.

The Western Australia club missed out on the Finals Series last season but have topped the table this time since early on.

If they can win away to second-placed Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Sunday it would open up a seven-point gap at the top.

Covic, who played for Perth as well as Wanderers, is backing Popovic to match his achievement with Western Sydney by winning the minor premiership in his first season as coach.

"Popa (Popovic) has got the experience and knows what it takes; this could be his year," he said. "Success is a fine line for a coach but he will have learnt a lot from his years at the Wanderers."

Popovic led Western Sydney into three A-League Grand Finals without success, and Covic said: "You have to ask yourself how many times is he going to be in a Grand Final before one falls for him – I reckon this one could have his name on it."

Perth are unbeaten in eight matches, and beat Victory 3-2 away from home early in the season.

Covic said on form, Sunday's clash would be a Grand Final as the teams were the standouts in the A-League.

"Perth have a very balanced squad and when a coach has a headache picking players that is when you know a team is in a good position," he added. "The firepower that both teams have is by far and away the best in the league."

The Glory are 21/10 to win their next game against Melbourne Victory, who are 5/4 with the draw 5/2.

Glory are 15/4 to win the game by a one-goal margin.

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Roar see off Sky Blues

Brisbane Roar ended their 12-match winless run as they came from behind to beat Sydney FC 2-1 at Suncorp Stadium.

It was a gutsy effort from the home side on a night when they were short of numbers.

Brisbane had keeper Jamie Young as well as defenders Dane Ingham and Daniel Bowles all suspended, and it got worse before half-time when they lost defensive pair Luke DeVere and Jack Hingert to knee injuries.

But they ended up on top thanks to a thunderbolt from Dylan Wenzell-Halls in the last minute of normal time.

The 21-year-old smashed home from the edge of the area to give keeper Andrew Redmayne no chance and lift the Roar six points clear of bottom side Central Coast.

Sydney FC had wasted good chances in the first half but were able to take the lead 10 minutes after the break.

Iranian recruit Reza Ghoochannejhad and strike partner Adam le Fondre both had opportunities for the visitors and Danny De Silva hit the post in the 23rd minute.

The Sky Blues should have gone ahead before that, when Milos Ninkovic blazed over from just outside the six-yard box.

Brisbane found it tough to get any rhythm going in the first half due to their injuries, with Davies having to send on 16-year-old defender Izaack Powell on the half-hour mark after Hingert limped off.

The visitors did break the deadlock when De Silva reacted quickest in the box to score from a rebound after keeper Brendan White had parried a le Fondre shot.

Ben Warland's last-ditch tackle on Adam Taggart prevented the Roar striker from levelling, but 13 minutes from time Brisbane did find a way through.

Taggart teed up the equaliser for substitute Tobias Mikkelsen, who lashed home his second goal of the season.

The Sky Blues are 1/4 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 8/1 with the draw 11/2.

Sydney FC are 6/1 to win the game 1-0.

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Honda revs up for Victory return

Keisuke Honda is likely to make his Melbourne Victory return from the bench when the defending champions face leaders Perth on Sunday.

The marquee has been out for more than a month with a hamstring injury.

He had helped Victory compile a six-game winning streak before he was sidelined.

Honda is one of three players restored to Kevin Muscat's squad for the AAMI Park clash, along with Storm Roux and James Donachie.

Victory will be without Carl Valeri and Jai Ingham due to injury as they look for a win that would take them to within a point of the Glory.

Honda regards himself as 80 per cent fit, saying: "I'm not enough to play 90 minutes yet. I might have a chance to play second half … it all depends on the game situation.

"Maybe I have to play second half if the situation is maybe bad because maybe we have to score or attack."

The 32-year-old has returned to contention ahead of Victory's Asian Champions League campaign, and with the club having won four of their last five matches.

Muscat said: "It'd be unrealistic and unfair to put Keisuke in the team immediately. Not only for himself but the group have been tremendous in obtaining a large amount of points without Keisuke and other experienced players."

Victory have lost their last two league meetings with the Glory, who are aiming for a third consecutive win over them for the first time since August 2009.

Muscat's side have lost just one of their last 13 A-League games at AAMI Park, picking up nine wins in that time, but have kept their opponents goalless just once in that spell.

Victory are 5/4 to win their next game against Perth Glory, who are 21/10 with the draw 5/2.

Victory are 3/1 to win the game by a one-goal margin.

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Davies out of running for Brisbane job

Darren Davies picked up his first win as Brisbane Roar's interim coach, immediately after telling the team he wouldn't be a candidate to take the job permanently.

The Roar moved up to eighth in the A-League table by beating Sydney FC 2-1, claiming their first victory since November.

Davies, though, had already told the players he wouldn't be the man to take charge long-term.

"I won't be putting my hand up for the job at this moment in time," said the Welshman, who stepped in to replace John Aloisi on 28th December.

"I will help the club to find a coach, whoever they want to do it – I will lead the club and players until I'm told otherwise.

"Over the course of the last number of weeks it's given me a belief, an appetite and a passion that I know that I can do it and I will do it at some point but, as I say, maybe the timing is not right for me at the moment."

The former Melbourne Victory assistant had lost five and drawn three of his first eight games.

He was denied his first win in the role last time out when the Roar led Adelaide 3-0 at Coopers Stadium only to lose the game 4-3.

The win over the Sky Blues came courtesy of Dylan Wenzel-Halls' 89th-minute strike.

Sydney FC had taken the lead at Suncorp Stadium through Danny De Silva, with Roar substitute Tobias Mikkelson thumping home an equaliser after 77 minutes.

Brisbane had three first-choice players suspended for the match and then lost both Luke DeVere and Jack Hingert to first-half knee injuries.

Davies handed schoolboy Izaack Powell his debut to replace Hingert, with the 16-year-old becoming the club's youngest ever player.

The coach said: "That playing group have been through a lot; their backs were against the wall tonight … to a man, outstanding. Nobody can ever question what that group will give."

The Roar will be without midfielder Alex Lopez when they take on table-topping Perth Glory next weekend, with the Spaniard having picked up his fifth yellow card of the season.

Brisbane are 13/2 to win their next game against Perth Glory, who are 1/3 with the draw 9/2.

The Roar are 8/1 to win by a one-goal margin.

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