The Roar
The Roar


Victory's struggles continue, Tilio wondergoal denies Sydney, will Reds miss finals?

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
25th February, 2024

With less drama away from the pitch this weekend, there’s plenty of on-field action to get stuck into. Here are your A-League Round 18 talking points.

Mariners down inconsistent Victory

Another win for Mark Jackson’s side at AAMI Park on Sunday has Central Coast just three points off the top of the table. If someone had told me that after four straight defeats to begin their championship defence and the loss of multiple star players in the off-season that the Mariners would be here, I wouldn’t have believed them.

But as they seem to do perhaps more efficiently than any other side in the league, the Mariners have again maximised their limited scouting resources and assembled a quality collective that is more than the sum of its parts.

Despite a horror double miss that rivalled Pat Wood’s shocker in Gosford, Josh Nisbet is playing the best football of his career, Brian Kaltak has returned to form and Jackson’s got the whole side humming along towards another championship tilt.

For Victory, another disappointing defeat leaves them in third place, and if not for an unlikely late brace from centre-half Damien Da Silva against crosstown rivals Western United, they’d have slipped down to fifth (thanks to that quirky rule change from the APL). That win – over cellar dwellers United – is their only one from the last five matches, yet they’re still only six points off top spot. It goes to show just how impressive that 15-game undefeated streak was.

Wanderers hold on, leaving Adelaide on brink of missing finals


Unfortunately for Adelaide fans, Luka Jovanovic’s 94th-minute strike was too little, too late for the home side on Friday night as the Reds suffered their third defeat in four matches. Whatever you think of Ben Halloran’s red card, United simply didn’t do enough to win that game of football.

For a team that’ve made it within one game of the Grand Final in each of the past three seasons, as it stands now Adelaide are not looking very likely to qualify for this year’s finals series. The loss of Craig Goodwin was a huge blow to their title credentials, and another star in Joe Gauci has departed also, though James Delianov is a pretty handy replacement for the gloveman.

Truth be told Carl Veart looks like a man bereft of ideas, and unsure of what his best starting XI looks like. Like all clubs at this point in the season, injuries have been a thorn in his side but there’s definitely enough quality at his disposal to be much higher on the ladder than they are.

(Photo by Maya Thompson/Getty Images)

With Marko Rudan’s two-week ban now served, the bombastic manager’s return will be one of many narratives to play out on Saturday night at CommBank Stadium. It should be a Sydney Derby to savour, and hopefully it’s a fitting crowd for the occasion in Parramatta.

City and Sydney share spoils as Tilio wows

I can personally attest to the fact that of all the prospects released or sold by Sydney FC in recent times, the loss of Marco Tilio will always be a particularly painful one for Sky Blues fans.


The Socceroo showcased his freakish talent in the 1-1 draw between Tilio’s City and Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium, expertly controlling an excellent Jamie Young release without breaking stride, before bamboozling Corey Hollman and beating Andrew Redmayne with an awesome strike. That brilliant goal cancelled out Jordan Courtney-Perkins’ opener which was also a thunderous hit that finished off some nice interplay.

It’s been a tumultuous premiership defence for City, but any A-League side that can roll out a current Socceroo and two recent call-ups in their front three always has the potential to trouble anyone. That said, the fulcrum of that attack, Jamie Maclaren, is scoreless in eight matches, which has to be concerning for coach Aurelio Vidmar.

When asked about next week’s tantalising clash with Western Sydney, Ufuk Talay was bullish about Sydney’s chances.

“They’re playing at home but with the way we want to play we are on the front foot so we’re going to go there to try to win,” Talay told AAP.

“We’re not going to sit back and defend our goal. We’re going to go and attack their goal and I think we’ve come a long way from where we were since that game and it still hurts me, the loss.”

Quick hits

-Failing to defeat the struggling Glory sees Wellington’s lead at the top of the table shrunk to just three points. I think the Nix will be a formidable team in the finals – especially if Oskar Zawada can stay healthy – but if I had to bet right now, I’d put my money on a Mariners premiership.


-A point on the road against Macarthur is a good result for the Jets. Rob Stanton’s side aren’t making the finals this year but at least there seems to be a foundation in place for the future. But that club really need an owner before things will really turn around at McDonald Jones Stadium.