A-League table has four on top
Soccer chiefs could barely have dreamed of a better finish.
After 80 games and more than 7000 minutes of football, the A-League minor premiership is poised to come down to the final whistle with four teams sharing top spot after the penultimate round.
A turgid 0-0 draw between Queensland and Sydney FC in Brisbane ensured the Roar, FC, Central Coast and Newcastle were separated by just goal difference at the A-League summit.
It leaves the league title - and a berth in the 2009 Asian Champions League - all to play for on the final weekend with the four clubs to face teams in the bottom half of the table in round 21.
Newcastle's 2-1 win over Central Coast on Saturday confirmed the finals teams - ending Melbourne's hopes of defending their championship title despite an impressive 3-0 win over Wellington on Friday - but there still remains a plethora of possibilities for the actual make-up of both the major and minor semis.
Queensland Roar, despite claiming only one point in the past two games, will start in pole position for the premiership, holding the best goal difference (+6) of the teams level on 31 points.
Frank Farina's men also have the advantage of playing the last game on Sunday - therefore knowing exactly what is required to take the league title - but they are also the only one of the quartet to be playing away, facing a testing trip against an Adelaide side keen to regain form ahead of the start of the ACL.
Sydney FC, after sitting nine points adrift of top place three weeks ago, have moved to a season-best second place with a plus-4 goal difference.
But John Kosmina's team faces perhaps the most difficult assignment in the final round, coming up against a red-hot Victory outfit which has won three straight and is looking every bit the championship side of 2006/07.
Central Coast and Newcastle appear to have the easier of final round draws.
While the fourth-placed Jets (+3) will go into their clash on Friday with wooden spoon contenders Perth full of confidence, Central Coast face an almighty task lifting themselves off the canvas after blowing a two-game lead at the top of the table.
The Mariners (+3), ladder leaders for all but two of the opening 19 rounds, have won just once in their last seven games, and with Saturday's defeat to the Jets have now lost three in a row at home - hardly a good sign heading in to their final fixture against the Wellington Phoenix at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday.
Perth Glory boosted hopes of avoiding the wooden spoon with an entertaining 3-2 win over Adelaide at Members Equity Stadium.
The result left Wellington in bottom place on goal difference, with Jamie Harnwell scoring the winner for the Glory just moments after a spectacular strike from Travis Dodd drew the Reds level at 2-2 early in the second half.