Five things we learned from A-League round 23

Remember when Brisbane Roar were being lauded for sending Shanghai Shenhua and Carlos Tevez packing? Wow, that seems like a long time ago now.

John Aloisi

Melbourne City star Bruno Fonaroli (left), Brisbane Roar coach John Aloisi (centre) and Wellington's Gui Finkler (right) Source: Getty Images/AAP

1. Brisbane Roar's season has gone pear-shaped

Their 2-0 win on the road against huge-spending Shanghai Shenhua to qualify for a place in the main draw of the Asian Champions League was heralded as a huge achievement for the both the Roar and Australian football.

But since that match on February 8 they have had just one win in eight games spread across the A-League and the ACL and that was against Newcastle Jets, who have collapsed in the final third of the season.

The sorry list stands at one win, two losses and two draws in the A-League and two losses and a draw in the ACL.

And now, after their dramatic 2-1 loss against Adelaide United that included a late send-off for goalkeeper Michael Theo and a penalty winner to the Reds, Roar assistant coach Ross Aloisi is being investigated over a post-match incident in which Adelaide assistant Jacobo Ramallo was allegedly assaulted.

Plus, Brisbane captain Matt McKay will be lucky to play again this season after sustaining medial ligament damage to his knee.

It's all happening for the Roar - just none of it good.

2. The battle for the top six is over

There was only one spot still up for grabs and Western Sydney Wanderers took a stranglehold on that with their 3-1 win over Wellington Phoenix.

The sixth-placed Wanderers are now five points ahead of seventh-placed Phoenix, six ahead of eighth-placed Newcastle Jets and eight ahead of ninth-placed Central Coast Mariners.

Yes, mathematically it's still possibly for the Wanderers to be run down, but you know you're desperate when you start doing the sums.

In the real world, neither the Phoenix, Jets or Mariners are good enough for the top six, while the Wanderers are showing plenty of commitment and desire.

3. The battle for the Golden Boot is back on

Melbourne Victory's Besart Berisha looked like he was getting away with the title there for a while, but Melbourne City's Bruno Fornaroli has begun a late charge.

Berisha hasn't stopped scoring, but Fornaroli has racked up four goals in the last two rounds compared to Berisha's single goal during that time.

That leaves Berisha, on 18, just one ahead of Fornaroli with four rounds to go.

Third-placed Jamie Maclaren, from Brisbane Roar, has given himself an outside chance of finishing on top by scoring three goals in the last two rounds to move to 14, but he would likely have to produce something extraordinary to overhaul both of the players in front of him.

4. The battle to avoid the wooden spoon has new life in it as well

In fact, bottom place on the table could change hands as soon as Saturday, when Central Coast Mariners host Adelaide United at Central Coast Stadium.

The Reds may still be running last at the moment, but they have picked up four points from the last two rounds compared to zero for the Mariners.

Central Coast are on 20 points, with a minus 17 goal difference. Adelaide are on 18 and minus 21.

The Mariners were looking real finals chances midway through the season, but after picking up just two points from their last six games they are nervously looking over their shoulders.

5. Split rounds are no good for the competition

They spread a measly five games over too big a space and the interest is inevitably reduced, particularly when, as occurred on this occasion, the competition's two biggest guns - Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory - both play in the first week.

The competition will get a boost when Victory return to action for Saturday night's game against Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium. Sydney FC are also away, against Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Sunday.

Sydney have got first place locked up and it's the same with Victory and second spot, but the Roar and Glory are in a dogfight for fourth place and a home game in the first week of the finals.

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4 min read
Published 20 March 2017 at 8:43am
By Greg Prichard