Sitting at the top of the tree for 10 straight weeks, Central Coast Mariners are undoubtedly the A-League’s kings of consistency.
But looming only one win away in second place, the Melbourne Victory appear the team that could dethrone them.
Courtesy of this season’s super-striker Daniel McBreen, the Mariners salvaged a 2-2 draw in Brisbane on Friday night.
The spirited Roar came from a goal down to lead 2-1 and were poised to inflict just the Mariners’ third defeat before McBreen equalised in the 80th minute with his 14th goal of the season.
The point lifted the struggling defending champions to sixth spot with under-fire coach Mike Mulvey declaring they were “on the road to recovery.”
“The situation is like a patient – we’ve done some diagnosis, we’ve had a look at what the problem is, we’re trying to do operations to fix things and it takes a little bit of time,” said Mulvey.
“We’re on the road to recovery.”
The Victory, meanwhile, look the form team of the competition, completing a five-game unbeaten stretch with a dominant performance in their 2-1 derby win over Melbourne Heart at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Socceroos Archie Thompson and Mark Milligan scored for Victory before David Williams got one back for their cross-town rivals.
The Victory have tasted defeat just twice in their past 15 matches and Saturday’s win – their third straight – closed the gap to just three points from the Mariners.
The last team to defeat the Victory was the continually impressive Western Sydney outfit.
The Wanderers again showed how they’ve created such buzz in their inaugural season, posting their fourth consecutive victory with a 4-2 thumping of Adelaide at Hindmarsh Stadium on Sunday.
Dutch import Youssouf Hersi was in blistering form, scoring two goals and setting up another for Mark Bridge, with Croatian teammate Mateo Poljak netting his first A-League goal.
The win ensured the Wanderers, who entered the match equal on points with the Reds, remain in third spot just one point away from Victory, but it continued what has been a tumultuous week for Adelaide after the shock exit of coach John Kosmina.
Sydney FC, missing a host of regular starters, let victory and a top-six spot slip in the dying minutes in their 2-2 draw with Newcastle on Saturday night.
Sydney looked to have wrapped up the the three points, which would have lifted them to fifth place, until a Ryan Griffiths penalty in the 89th minute forced a draw.
This lifted the Jets to fifth while the Sky Blues dropped to eighth spot.
Meanwhile, Perth found themselves overtaken by previous cellar dwellers Wellington after falling to a 1-0 defeat against the Phoenix in Auckland on Saturday.