There were milestones, rain delays, plenty of goals and a couple of red cards to boot. Round 23 certainly had it all and here is our best XI from the weekend.
Player of the Week
Roy Krishna (Wellington Phoenix): Making just his second start for the Phoenix, the Fijian dynamo wasted little time in showing what he’s capable of when he did it all himself to snatch the game’s opener. Looking to counter attack when Heart turned over possession, Krishna went on a darting 50 metre run downfield before thundering a powerful drive into the bottom right corner of the net. The 26-year-old was on hand again in the second half when he cut a dangerous ball across goal from the by-line that helped give his ten-man team an unlikely lead.
Glen Moss (Wellington Phoenix): The Phoenix shot-stopper had to be on his game to help his side come away from AAMI Park with a point. With Wellington playing down a man for two-thirds of the match, Moss was subject to a staggering 26 shots, pulling off five saves of the finest order. The goalkeeper was only beaten by a deflected blast and from the spot and his heroics will no doubt be required for the remainder of the season if Ernie Merrick's men are to scrape into the finals.
Sebastian Ryall: (Sydney FC): The Sky Blues defender has shown his versatility since being shifted wide at the back following the arrival of Sasa Ognenovski. The move appears to have worked with Ryall forming part of a defensive unit which has now only conceded five goals in their past five games. Having gone down a goal to the league leaders, Ryall rose above the pack at a set-piece to head home an equaliser, much to the delight of the Sydney faithful.
Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix): Playing in his 150th Hyundai A-League match, the Phoenix skipper had a busy afternoon, especially once centre-partner Ben Sigmund saw red. While clearly unimpressed by the decision Durante ensured his team didn’t drop their heads. He made a couple of critical interventions at the back and ten clearances to help Phoenix come away with a point for their toils.
Eddie Bosnar (Central Coast Mariners): The journeyman defender has been a strong presence at the back for the Mariners since making the move to the Champions in the transfer window. Never one to shy away from goal, Bosnar scored one of the fastest goals in A-League history with an audacious shot from distance to light up the F3 Derby. With less than a minute on the clock Bosnar shot from beyond half-way, the bounce of the ball confounding Mark Birighitti to set the tone for a Mariners win.
Kew Jaliens (Newcastle Jets): It is testament to the performance of the Dutch defender that he was named man-of-the-match in spite of his side suffering a 3-1 reverse in the F3 Derby. Having signed a contract extension that will keep him at the Jets for at least another season, Jaliens again showed what a valuable acquisition he has been on the weekend. The 35-year-old had a 100 per cent tackle efficiency and made nine clearances in helping his side get back in the contest at Gosford.
Mate Dugandzic (Melbourne Heart): The Heart winger has been in scintillating form in recent weeks and was again in the thick of the action against the Phoenix. While he spooned an early effort over the bar from an acute angle, he made amends soon after to get Heart back on level terms. The ball sprayed out to Dugandzic on the edge of the area from a corner and he unleashed a powerful drive that was surely headed for the back of the net but took a slight deflection off teammate Patrick Gerhardt on the way.
Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory): The Victory captain had a mixed first half, unfortunate to be credited with an own-goal before getting his team back on level pegging from the spot. The Socceroo was helpless to stop the ball deflecting into his own net after it was headed into him by Michael Thwaite. However he made amends with his spot-kick after Troisi had been bundled over in the area. Milligan’s running typified the effort from the Victory and they were rewarded with a late winner.
Marcelo Carrusca (Adelaide United): The soggy Sydney weather wasn’t the only reason fans were on the edge of their seats on Saturday afternoon, the Argentine managing to fashion numerous chances against Wanderers. With both teams content to play long balls given the conditions, Carrusca delivered some majestic crosses throughout the contest. He should have laid on the opener when he set-up Ferreira on ten minutes and nearly did it all himself just after with his powerful long-range effort going just wide. It ended goalless at Pirtek but Carrusca definitely shone.
Bernie Ibini (Central Coast Mariners): The Mariners talisman was on the end of a wonderfully worked team goal to put his side 2-0 up inside six minutes in the F3 Derby. Ibini was a constant outlet in attack and didn’t shirk his defensive responsibilities either, getting back to help his teammates out when the Jets started to get themselves back in the match. Ibini ran himself to a stand-still and was replaced with 15 minutes remaining in the contest.
David Williams (Melbourne Heart): The Heart frontman joined Adam Taggart and Besart Berisha at the top of the Golden Boot standings with 11 goals, after he converted from the spot against the Phoenix. Williams calmly converting the penalty after Harry Kewell was judged to have been brought down in the area. While Williams was the main target man up front for the Heart as they desperately tried to carve out a winner the match would finish in a draw. Much will hinge on Williams’ shoulders in the coming weeks if the Red and White are to complete their amazing run with a finals appearance.