Dutch defender in doubt for Glory trip

Sydney FC's impressive 3-1 win over Western Sydney came at a cost, with Jop van der Linden now in doubt for the club's meeting with leaders Perth Glory.

The import defender suffered a hamstring injury in the victory at ANZ Stadium, which was a quality response from the Sky Blues after they had gone down 3-1 at home to Wellington.

Van der Linden fell awkwardly after an attempted tackle in the 15th minute, and the Dutchman may need to be replaced against the unbeaten Glory.

Asked about van der Linden's injury, coach Steve Corica said: "I'm not 100 per-cent sure, I think it was a little bit of a hamstring. I don't know how bad it is yet; I haven't seen him, (but) there's a little bit of a twinge there."

The Sky Blues trailed to a goal from Oriol Riera but came from behind to continue their dominance in meetings with their rivals – it was their fifth derby win in a row.

Corica had needed to go into the match without van der Linden's centre-back partner Alex Wilkinson due to a virus. Wilkinson's replacement, Aaron Calver, lasted 64 minutes before he too exited the match due to cramping.

"He hasn't played for quite a while; it was only normal, to come back and with heavy conditions, to start cramping up," said Corica of Calver.

"He'll be better off for it and he'll be fine next week – Jop, probably not."

Sydney FC, who are gunning for a third consecutive Premier's Plate, face a run of four big games now bookended by trips to Perth.

In between they have festive period home games against Brisbane Roar and Central Coast, who boast just one victory between them so far this season.

Sydney FC are 17/10 to win their next game against Perth Glory, who are 6/4 with the draw 12/5.

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Coach defends derby substitution

Markus Babbel defended his decision to take off Alexander Baumjohann at a crucial time in Western Sydney's 3-1 defeat to Sydney FC.

The coach decided to take off the player who had had a big influence up to that point, when he needed to send on a substitute keeper in the derby at ANZ Stadium.

Vedran Janjetovic had been dismissed for handling the ball outside his area, leaving Babbel needing to take off an outfield player in order for debutant Danijel Nizic to take over between the uprights.

Western Sydney had been ahead at that point, but though it was widely seen by fans as too-defensive move to substitute the attack-minded Baumjohann the home side went on to ship three goals.

Speaking of his decision after the game, Babbel said: "Alex is a fantastic footballer and I feel really really sad for him because he's one of our best players.

"But in this moment, for me it was clear we need legs now and we have to defend more than to attack. And Alex is a fantastic player offensive-wise, but defensive is not his biggest strength, so I have to make that decision."

As far as the Wanderers coach is concerned, what cost his team as they slumped to a fifth-straight loss to their derby rivals was the team's frail mentality.

Babbel said it would have been easier for him to accept if the goals they conceded to the Sky Blues had been well struck from outfield play.

The fact they conceded twice after the break from set-pieces didn't sit well with him as a former defender, he admitted.

"We are not hungry in this moment; we don't see the danger in this moment," he added.

"[So] we don't have to be surprised if you lose this game, because this is a good side."

Western Sydney are 11/4 to win their next game against Adelaide, who are 10/11 with the draw 11/4.

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Sky Blues beat 10-man Wanderers

Sydney FC came from behind to win their derby clash with Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1 at ANZ Stadium.

Steve Corica's team handed their rivals a third defeat in the space of four games, with Wanderers' chances taking a major hit when keeper Vedran Janjetovic was sent off.

Playing against his former team, Janjetovic was dismissed for handling the ball outside the penalty area after he was beaten to a long ball by Adam le Fondre.

Oriol Riera had put Western Sydney ahead, with Alex Brosque levelling in first half stoppage time.

The Sky Blues went ahead before hour mark courtesy of Siem De Jong, with Jacob Tratt's bullet header adding gloss to the scoreline late on.

Western Sydney deserved their opener, which came when Spanish striker Riera turned in Alexander Baumjohann's free-kick from close range midway through the first half.

Janjetovic was then shown a straight red card and their coach Markus Babbel responded by withdrawing Baumjohann in order to be able to bring on substitute keeper Danijel Nizic.

Brosque drew the Sky Blues level in the first half of added time at the end of the first half when he reacted quickest to net from a rebound after Josh Brillante's shot came back off the post.

The visitors had already threatened twice since finding themselves with an extra men, de Jong forcing a tip-over from Nizic and le Fondre curling a shot just past the upright.

Wanderers, who have now beaten their derby rivals just once in 16 meetings, had less threat once Baumjohann went off.

They fell behind when De Jong buried the scraps from a corner at the back post, and Sydney FC secured a fifth-straight win in the derby when Tratt headed home from the far post nine minutes from time.

Sydney FC are 17/10 to win their next game against Perth Glory, who are 6/4 with the draw 12/5.

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Mulvey to turn to youth

Mike Mulvey's patience has run out with his Central Coast side, after they claimed an unwanted record with their 2-0 defeat away to Wellington Phoenix.

The Mariners have posted the worst start to an A-League season, with just two points from the opening eight rounds.

Their overall record stands at just one win in their last 26 league games, and Mulvey feels it's time to shake things up with his selections.

Mulvey admits the Gosford club are "way off the pace at the moment", and are being held back by fear.

The Mariners finished bottom of the table last season and risk being cast adrift by the other teams before the turn of the year.

They suffered a sixth consecutive defeat in Wellington, which could be the catalyst to a turn to youth.

Mulvey said: "We do have a plan but we need to now give some of our young lads a bit of a chance and next week [against Newcastle Jets] is a good opportunity to do that."

The Mariners coach said the Mariners were continuing to shoot themselves in the foot, conceding first-half goals against the Phoenix to Louis Fenton and Sarpreet Singh.

"We need to be on the ball, we need to be there in key moments and we weren't today," said Mulvey, who returned as an A-League coach in the off-season four years after being sacked by Brisbane Roar.

"We've got to give the young lads a go," he added. "We had a couple of lads come on towards the end of the game, Josh Macdonald and Mario Shabow and they deserve game time now.

"They don't have any fear; some lads unfortunately get a little bit gripped by fear."

Central Coast are 5/2 to win their next game against Newcastle, who are 1/1 with the draw 13/5.

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Phoenix pass ‘bigger test’

Wellington Phoenix had to adjust to going from huge underdogs to favourites in the space of a week, and did it well, according to coach Mark Rudan.

The Phoenix beat Central Coast 2-0 at Westpac Stadium, earning back-to-back victories after having gone to Sydney FC and won last weekend.

Three defeats from three games during November had suggested that Rudan's side would spend the rest of the campaign in the wrong half of the table, but the coach didn't agree with that assessment.

A performance widely seen as the team turning the corner came on 2nd December when they held leaders Perth to a 1-1 draw in Wellington.

It was only after being reduced to 10 men that the Phoenix conceded a late equaliser against the Glory, and they followed that up with a first-half blitz of Sydney FC last week.

They were 3-0 up against the Sky Blues before the break, and this time in beating the Mariners they again had a comfortable cushion courtesy of goals from Louis Fenton and Sarpreet Singh.

Rudan said that having surprised the reigning premiers away from home, he was very pleased to see his team cope with the unusual challenge of being favourites against the A-League's bottom side.

"We challenged the players at the start of the week. It was a fantastic performance and result last week, but we kept them calm and focused and it was a bigger test this week against a team, for the first time this year, that we were expected to beat," he added.

"That was the most pleasing thing, because it's a mentality more than anything else.

"We've shown that we can do it against the league leaders a couple of weeks ago, we've shown that we can do it away from home, but can we do it at home against a team we were expected to beat and I thought today that was key."

Wellington are 11/8 to win their next game against Brisbane Roar, who are 15/8 with the draw 12/5.

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Mariners make worst start

Central Coast Mariners hit a new low in their 2-0 defeat to Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.

The Mariners have made the worst start to a season in A-League history, having picked up just two points from eight matches under coach Mike Mulvey.

They had an early chance, which Jordan Murray fired over the top from an acute angle, but trailed by two goals before the break.

Wellington made it two consecutive victories for the first time since April last year, strikes from Louis Fenton and Sarpreet Singh guiding them to a comfortable win.

The home side were rarely troubled at the back, and have now conceded just two goals in the space of three games.

Wellington broke the deadlock inside ten minutes, right wing back Fenton netting just his fifth league goal since February 2016.

Fenton was able to take advantage of having stayed just onside when the rebound from Mandi's long-range shot – deflected on its way to keeper Adam Pearce – fell to him.

Singh doubled the lead in the 45th minute, this time beating Pearce in a one-on-one.

He got his chance after Roy Krishna, released by a low pass from Liberato Cacace, drew two defenders before squaring the ball to him.

Coach Mark Rudan had to substitute defender Michal Kopczynski due to a hamstring injury, slotting Tom Doyle into the back three.

What chances came in the second half, though, were created by Wellington.

Nathan Burns couldn't profit from a couple of opportunities, continuing a goalless drought that has now lasted more than 2000 minutes.

The nearest the Mariners came was when Mario Shabow's long-range effort was palmed away by keeper Filip Kurto.

Central Coast are 5/2 to win their next game against Newcastle, who are 1/1 with the draw 13/5.

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De Laet ‘desperate’ to reclaim City spot

Ritchie De Laet is in contention to return for Melbourne City when they travel to Adelaide United on Sunday.

The former Belgium international was a late scratching from the City side that went down 1-0 to leaders Perth Glory last weekend.

His knee locked after training last week and he's had limited training, but coach Warren Joyce is hopeful he can step straight back into the side at Coopers Stadium.

Speaking of the 30-year-old's injury, the coach said: "There's nothing untoward, his knee just locked up. Obviously, we had three injuries on the same day so that was just an internal problem.

"He's done well so far this season; he's desperate to play. Not had much training this week so we'll just see and assess after training today."

Defensive midfielder Osama Malik could make his first appearance of the season, having been unavailable so far due to a calf injury.

Joyce said the 28-year-old had played during an in-house game, and been able to train.

"He's obviously been out a long time; he's a great kid and he's desperate to train," he added. "I took him on Monday when the rest of the lads were off – and you can see a little bit of sharpness is needed but he's desperate to be a part of it and, again, we'll just assess him today."

Though they've only scored in two of their past five games, and didn't have a shot on target in the defeat to Perth, City have again chosen to leave out striker Bruno Fornaroli.

Joyce said Frenchman Florin Berenguer was unlikely to be seen until the new year with a calf injury.

City are 11/5 to win their next game against Adelaide, who are 13/10 with the draw 23/10.

City are 17/2 to win the match 1-0. De Laet is 15/2 to score at any time in the game.

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Brown ‘outstanding’ on Brisbane return

Corey Brown's display on his return to Suncorp Stadium drew praise from Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat, after the defending champions beat Brisbane Roar 4-2.

Brown was making something of an emotional homecoming to Brisbane, where he had played the whole of his career until moving to Melbourne in the off-season.

His return could well have ended in a serious injury, when he was clattered by Eric Bautheac's challenge 20 minutes into the match.

But he managed to avoid the full force of the tackle, which earned a yellow card for the Frenchman and moments later a second booking for shoving, and played an excellent game, according to Muscat.

"He was fairly lucky in that tackle that he didn't get injured, but I thought his performance and his discipline and control was outstanding," said the coach.

"I had a couple of chats with Corey. He's been steadily building and tonight, to get caught up in an emotion, going back to your old club, sometimes distracts you from what's important to yourself and the team."

It was the first game Brown had played in an opposition team in Brisbane, a city where he grew up and played 88 times for the Roar and where his father Rod was an NSL Grand Finalist with Brisbane Strikers.

The left wing-back helped Victory secure a sixth consecutive win, which put them at least temporarily back at the top of the A-League table.

Kosta Barbarouses scored twice for the visitors, Keisuke Honda netted from the penalty spot and Ola Toivonen scored for Victory and then headed an own goal minutes later.

Muscat was again without defender Georg Niedermeier, who will hope to overcome his bruised ankle in time for next weekend's derby against Melbourne City.

Victory are 5/4 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 21/10 with the draw 12/5.

Victory are 7/1 to win the game 1-0.

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Six of the best as Victory go top

Melbourne Victory took over at the top of the A-League table with a sixth consecutive win, as they beat Brisbane Roar 4-2.

A remarkable game at Suncorp Stadium saw six goals, two penalties and a red card in the first half.

Victory's Ola Toivonen scored at both ends, heading an own goal just 10 minutes after putting his team ahead 2-1.

Brisbane were reduced to 10 men only 20 minutes into the match, when French marquee Eric Bautheac was shown two yellow cards, but still they managed to score twice before half-time.

The goals were all confined to a 34-minute period in the first-half, but the game started with a dramatic escape for Victory, who cleared the ball off their goalline three times within seconds.

Avraam Papadopoulos, Adam Taggart and Stefan Mauk were all denied, to the home crowd's disbelief, and the Roar conceded the first goal on 13 minutes.

Kosta Barbarouses got the first of his two on the night when he swept home a James Troisi pass, after Keisuke Honda had won the ball in midfield.

Brisbane's hopes took another big dent seven minutes later when Bautheac launched into a wild challenge on Victory defender Corey Brown.

He earned a yellow card for the challenge, but then became involved in a scuffle off the ball and referee Adam Fielding dismissed him.

The 10 men levelled from the penalty spot when Honda tripped Adam Taggart inside the area and the Roar striker picked himself up to convert.

Toivonen put the visitors back in front, sweeping home his third goal in as many games, and it became 3-1 with five minutes to go to half-time.

Daniel Bowles was pinged for a handball in the box and Honda stepped up to net his fifth goal of the campaign.

Toivonen misdirected a header when Alex Lopez sent in a free-kick to get the Roar back into the game at 3-2, but there was still time for a sixth goal of the half.

Two minutes into added time, Honda and Troisi set up Barbarouses for the All Whites international to net against his former club.

The Roar are 15/8 to win their next game against Wellington, who are 11/8 with the draw 12/5.

Brisbane are 10/1 to win the game 1-0.

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Spiranovic could make quick return

Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic has indicated he's prepared to risk defender Matthew Spiranovic in next week's clash with Sydney FC.

Spiranovic will sit out Sunday's trip to Newcastle Jets with a hamstring injury he picked up in the first half of last weekend's 1-0 victory against Melbourne City.

It was the former Socceroo's first league game since he recovered from a year-long hip injury. But the club have learned he doesn't have a tear in his muscle and he was able to return to running again on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old could return against the Sky Blues, who have won the last two premierships.

Popovic said: "(The scans showed) there was some fluid there, just a little bit, which we've seen previously with him; it's just about managing it now.

"He was running yesterday and was confident and felt no pain at all, so that's a really good sign. If he can do the full week's training next week, I'd say he'd be a really good chance."

The coach has the option of asking Spiranovic, who played in two youth games before making his senior return, to go back to that level and test himself before stepping back to the A-League.

But he said: "When you've been out for that long, the challenge will always be there when he comes back to the first time. We could wait two months, and still that first three or four games will be difficult for him."

Leaders Perth will still be without Alex Grant (foot) and Scott Neville (ankle) against Newcastle, but Juande could play after overcoming a knee niggle.

The Glory have an unbeaten run at McDonald Jones Stadium that stretches back to 2011.

Perth are 19/10 to win their next game against Newcastle, who are 29/20 with the draw 12/5.