A-League cracks appearing for Mariners
They've managed to hold on to the top spot on the A-League ladder but cracks are beginning to appear in the ever-consistent Central Coast side.
Melbourne Victory tore the Mariners apart in the first half of their Launceston encounter on Saturday before a gritty fightback ensured they shared the spoils in the 1-1 result.
The hard-fought draw meant the Mariners lead over Adelaide United was cut to just two points.
A furious Graham Arnold was sent off just before the break for directing his anger at match officials and later apologised for the outburst.
Football Federation Australia will review the incident on Monday with Arnold likely to be issued with a 'please explain' letter on top of the club-imposed $1000 fine.
But you can't blame Arnold for being a little angry, with the current transfer window threatening to decimate his talented squad and leave the Mariners' championship tilt in trouble as Tomas Rogic, Mathew Ryan and Berni Ibini are all likely to be snapped up.
But Arnold dismissed the transfer talk as an excuse for their flat performance and was left scratching his head.
"We looked legless. We're going to do a lot of research on why that was the case," he said.
"It was the first time in two and a half years I've had to go off my head at halftime (at his players)."
The Reds kept pressure on the league leaders with a 3-2 win over Perth on Friday.
Import Jeronimo Neumann, who came off the bench after Bruce Djite limped off with a groin injury just 80 seconds in, made the most of his sudden call-up to score twice.
Sydney FC staged a dramatic comeback to beat Melbourne Heart 2-1, scoring two goals in the final ten minutes to seal the win on Sunday.
The victory lifted them off the bottom of the ladder - where they have sat for eight of the 15 rounds - while the Heart drop to seventh.
Newcomers Western Sydney continue to impress beating Wellington 2-0 away to remain in fourth spot while the Phoenix slipped to the bottom.
Defending champions Brisbane, meanwhile, slumped to their ninth loss this season to drop to eighth spot after a 1-0 loss to the Jets, who climbed to fifth.
But so congested is the ladder, any team in the bottom four are just one win away from a top-six position.
"To be talking about a third championship in a row is a ridiculous thing to be talking about now because we're at the other end of the table," Roar coach Mike Mulvey said.
"At the moment, we don't deserve to be thought of as finals contenders.
"But there's no doubt in my mind whatsoever that we'll make the finals."