Drama kings keep pot boiling
Sydney FC kept their slim A-League finals hopes alive, snapping a four-match losing streak with a last-gasp goal to beat Wellington Phoenix 1-0 at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday night.
Teenage substitute Kofi Danning netted in the 85th minute to save Sydney's season, as anything less than a win would have condemned the one-time title favourites to missing the playoffs.
Fielding a side shorn of big-money star John Aloisi and mainly featuring youngsters, Sydney FC were aided by the Phoenix being reduced to 10 men for the final 25 minutes after midfielder Troy Hearfield was sent off.
Hearfield was suckered into a faux headbutt on Sydney FC striker Alex Brosque following a challenge, with referee Ben Williams having no hesitation giving Hearfield a red card.
Brosque then tormented Wellington further, involved in a delightful build-up to second-gamer Danning's goal.
He and veteran Steve Corica interchanged sweet passes before putting Danning through on goal - his neat toe-poke keeping coach John Kosmina's team mathematically alive for at least another week.
Sydney FC now sit five points behind fourth-placed Central Coast with two games remaining.
They have also closed to within two points of the fifth-placed Phoenix, who will be ruing a missed opportunity to close on a maiden finals berth by failing to put away the home side despite several good first-half opportunities.
Sydney FC's win also came after several days of speculation about misfiring Aloisi's future with the $1.4 million a season striker saying on Sunday he would not be going anywhere of his own accord.
Kosmina had speculated Aloisi may not play for the club again following a recent quadriceps injury.
And chairman Andrew Kemeny said Sydney FC and Aloisi had a gentleman's agreement the player could walk away if both parties were agreeable.
But Aloisi told Fairfax newspapers: "If things aren't going your way you don't just quit.
"I am at Sydney for another year, at least.
"I am going to give it my all and work hard and turn it around so that we have a great season next year, not only for myself, but for the whole team."
In other matches this weekend, Adelaide bounced back from a midweek defeat to beat Newcastle 2-0 at home on Friday night.
And Queensland Roar stayed in third place with an exciting 4-3 away win over Central Coast on Saturday.
Adelaide have regained top spot on the ladder after Perth striker Eugene Dadi scored twice to help the Glory stun Melbourne Victory 3-2 at home on Sunday night.
The Victory were reduced to 10 men late in the match after defender Matthew Kemp was marched for a second yellow card offence.