Five things we learned from A-League Round 19

Strictly speaking, if you do the math - it's not over yet, but in reality it is. Sydney FC will finish the regular season on top of the ladder.

Sydney FC

Sydney FC players celebrate their win over Wellington Phoenix Source: Getty Images

1. Sydney FC have won the Premiers' Plate

The Sky Blues won't say that, but the battle is over.

Eight rounds to go and they lead by 11 points. Then there is the little matter of their outrageously good goal difference of plus 32, which is more than twice as good as second-placed Melbourne Victory (plus 15).

And, probably most importantly, the Victory aren't showing signs they might run them down.

Victory needed to beat Newcastle on Monday night to try to keep at least some heat on Sydney, but were inexplicably flat against a Jets side that had twice as many shots as them (18 to nine) and four times as many on target (eight to two).

Sydney kicked off the round with a 3-1 win over Wellington Phoenix. They weren't at their best on this occasion, but they were professional enough to get the job done yet again.

2. Adelaide United are resigned to their fate

The blank looks on the faces of the coaching staff in the dug-out during their 5-0 loss to Perth Glory said at all.

Guillermo Amor and his assistants have no doubt tried everything to kick-start the team's season, but to no avail.

The Reds, who were Premiers' Plate and championship double winners in stunning fashion last season, are now eight points behind second-last Central Coast after the 2-0 win by the Mariners over Western Sydney Wanderers.

Adelaide are now doomed to finish bottom of the table.

3. You can't win without genuine strikers

Well, not often enough anyway. If you're good enough in defence you might be able to jag a few 0-0 draws and sneak some 1-0 wins, but to really get anywhere in the A-League - you've got to have the right man up front.

Newcastle Jets haven't got that man, or they would have beaten Melbourne Victory with all the chances they had, instead of drawing 0-0. Neither have Adelaide United.

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic is presumably trying to conserve veteran striker Brendon Santalab by using him from the bench rather than as a starter, more often than not, but starting Mitch Nichols up front against Central Coast Mariners didn't work.

4. Central Coast Mariners desperately need to keep their striker

The Mariners are currently in contract negotiations with Roy O'Donovan, who wrote a pretty good advertisement for himself with his two vastly different goals in the 2-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers.

The first was an expert conversion from the penalty spot and the second, a classy lob from just inside the box over advancing goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic.

If Central Coast can keep O'Donovan, despite the considerable interest in him from rival clubs, it will be confirmation the Mariners, who struggled mightily last season, are heading in the right direction again.

If they lose him, it will be a huge blow to them.  

5. Thomas Sorensen is the ultimate professional and a great clubman

Sorensen was the A-League goalkeeper of the year last season, but Dean Bouzanis has been preferred to him at Melbourne City this season.

The former Premier League star had only played in two games this season before replacing the suspended Bouzanis for the game against Brisbane and hadn't played since November 18, when he replaced an injured Bouzanis at halftime against Western Sydney Wanderers.

But he was outstanding in Melbourne City's 2-2 draw against the Roar.

The word out of the club all along was that 40-year-old Sorensen, whilst naturally disappointed at being demoted, never moaned about it and had remained positive, working hard at training and supporting his teammates while he waited for another chance to come.

Had Bouzanis been suspended for just one game, instead of five, it would have been interesting to see which goalkeeper City coach Michael Valkanis picked for Saturday's away game against Wellington Phoenix.

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Published 14 February 2017 at 8:37am
By Greg Prichard