Newcastle picked up a 2-0 win over Sheffield – thanks to a bizarre moment in the second half.
The final round of A-League action is upon us and the top six is set. In a round of upsets, emotion and drama, the stars came to the fore. Here are the men that made the difference in Round 26.
1. Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC)
This was the most difficult selection of the week; in a round where goal keepers bled goals freely, Redmayne commanded and controlled his box expertly against the premiers on Thursday night.
While not producing a dynamic display of freakish saves, Redmayne was solid and organised at the back in a week without a stand out goalkeeper.
He was excellent in a match that saw Sydney FC chip away at the confidence of the competition favourites.
2. Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC)
Grant was the most influential player on the field against the Glory at Netstrata Stadium. His engine capacity was once again on display as he worked the right flank and time and time again he put Sydney in attacking situations.
It was another stellar performance from Grant and now fully fit, he appears likely to be Graham Arnold’s number one right back selection when the Socceroos next take to the pitch.
3. Michael Marrone (Adelaide United)
In a round where polished defensive efforts were a little light on, Adelaide effectively secured the fort against the Victory and kept the visitors off the score sheet at Coopers Stadium.
In his new role as a central defender, Marrone looks comfortable, composed and the combination and understanding he appears to have struck up with Michael Jakobsen is making the Reds a tough nut to crack for opposition front lines.
Whether it was on the ground or in the air, Marrone played a magnificent game as the Reds moved into fourth spot on the ladder.
4. Michael Jakobsen (Adelaide United)
Marrone’s partner in crime was superb in the 1-0 win over Kevin Muscat’s men. Against potentially the most lethal attacking unit in the A-League, Jakobsen stepped up, cutting time and space available between the lines and consistently forcing Victory into reverse.
As hard as they tried, the visitors were not able to find their way through the defensive blockade set up by Jakobsen and Marrone in the centre of the Adelaide back line.
5. Ryan Kitto (Adelaide United)
With goals flying in left, right and centre, defensive prowess was a little undervalued late in Round 26.
Adelaide’s composure and diligence at the back was the stand out performance of the week and Kitto makes the team of the week along with his two central defenders.
The 24-year-old possesses a considerable engine and a wicked left foot that serves the Reds well. On a night when Adelaide conquered the might of the Victory, Kitto played a key role down the left side.
6. Mirko Boland (Adelaide United)
The 31-year-old German makes his debut in the team of the week and if you do get the chance to review the match in full, have a close look at his defensive performance.
It was a perfect display of aggressive defending against dangerous attacking midfielders. As the Victory sought passing channels through the middle of the park, Boland stepped into their space and applied immense pressure on Keisuke Honda, Terry Antonis and company, blunting numerous attacks in what was his best performance for the Reds this season.
7. Brandon O’Neill (Sydney FC)
In a match that was barely watchable in the first half and at times thrilling in the second, O’Neill controlled the Sydney midfield.
With Perth struggling to create clear-cut chances due to his excellent defensive reads and ability to track back in dangerous situations, the 24-year-old added another excellent performance to his 2018/2019 resume.
Some of O’Neill’s passes when going forward were exquisitely executed and he played a key role in a number of promising Sydney attacks.
8. Riley McGree (Melbourne City)
There will be a little more force in the usual clink of glasses this Thursday night when a footballing friend and I toast the freakish talent of Riley McGree.
In recent seasons, our weekly catch up has often involved discussions around the immense talent of the future Socceroo.
The 20-year-old managed to find the net on two occasions in the compelling clash between City and Wellington and was potentially the most influential player on the pitch.
In my view, Club Brugge will be calling him back sooner rather than later.
9. Matt Simon (Central Coast Mariners)
It has taken me some time to work the ‘Wizard of Woy Woy’ back into the team of the week yet here he is in all his glory.
The Mariners’ all-time leading scorer added two more to his impressive resume against a very disappointing Wanderers on Saturday night in Gosford.
The first was a blasted and unscientific free kick that ruptured the wall and gave the goal keeper little chance whilst the second was a penalty that set the home side into raptures.
Simon was a nuisance to the Wanderers’ defence throughout the match and led the front line with his usual competitive and combative attitude.
10. Joseph Champness (Newcastle Jets)
In his best ever A-League performance, Champness scored two goals against the lost and forlorn Brisbane Roar on Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium.
Finally back to full fitness and now in full flight, the New Zealand born 21-year-old is one of Australia’s most promising players; something he reminded us of against the Roar.
Blessed with speed, excellent vision and reasonable control when the ball is at his feet, Champness looms as a significant A-League player over the next few seasons.
11. Roy Krishna (Wellington Phoenix)
When Krishna broke onto the scene in 2014, no one doubted his speed or effort. There was some polish required in terms of his touch and execution, yet Ernie Merrick and Mark Rudan have played key roles in improving those areas.
The Fijian is the benchmark running attacker in the A-League and now leads the golden boot race after a hat-trick against Melbourne City in Wellington.
The greatest compliment one can give to an attacker is the absolute fear that swells in defenders when they appear in the area with the ball at their feet. Krishna scares the heck out of A-League defenders on a weekly basis.