Sydney keep finals hopes alive
Sydney FC edged closer to securing a place in the finals with a 2-0 victory over Central Coast Mariners.
The Sky Blues bounced back from last week's loss to Perth, with goals to Sebastian Ryall and Joel Chianese sealing the much needed three points.
Meanwhile, Central Coast's Premiership hopes were handed a significant blow, with first-placed Western Sydney now able to create a five-point lead atop the A-League if they defeat Wellington on Sunday.
In a scrappy affair, it was Sydney who gained the upper hand early in front of more than 16,000 home fans, exposing a usually compact Mariners defence.
Joel Griffiths, Brett Emerton and even defenders Terry McFlynn and Tiago Calvano sent shots towards the Mariners goal in the opening 15 minutes, leaving goalkeeper Mat Ryan with plenty to do.
It didn't take long for Sydney to find the breakthrough as Ryall latched onto a pinpoint McFlynn cross to give his side a 1-0 lead. Frank Farina's men looked comfortable to sit on that goal and held out to take the advantage after a scrappy first half.
Central Coast emerged from the break resembling a side that had dominated the competition until they were usurped at the top last week as Michael McGlinchey and the A-League's top scorer Daniel McBreen forced Sydney 'keeper Vedran Janjetovic into actoin.
Coach Graham Arnold was forced into a number of early changes, sending Mitchell Duke and Oliver Bozanic into the attack with Zac Anderson shoring up the defence.
Sydney's marquee man Alessandro Del Piero threatened to render Arnold's changes irrelevant when he sent a stinging shot towards the Central Coast goal, but Ryan was equal to the task with a superb diving save.
The result was soon put beyond doubt as substitute Joel Chianese doubled Sydney's lead after just four minutes on the pitch, burying the ball after a neat assist from midfielder Terry Antonis.
Brisbane Roar, kicking off in the late game, could have overhauled Sydney, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw with the third-placed Melbourne Victory, with Ivan Franjic scoring a fine equaliser just before the hour mark to cancel out Leigh Broxham's early header for Melbourne.
The dropped points for the Victory at least provided some good news for the Mariners, who are five points clear in second place.
Information from the Press Association was used in this report.