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Jan 18, 2009

Last A-League round to decide top four

The top four spots on the A-League ladder will be determined in next weekend's final round after fifth-placed Wellington managed to keep alive their hopes with a 1-1 draw against Adelaide at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.

Adelaide, Melbourne and Queensland all have the chance to win the minor premiership next weekend and Wellington need to beat Melbourne and hope the Central Coast Mariners lose to Adelaide to book a finals spot for the first time.

Aurelio Vidmar's men took the lead through Paul Reid after just nine minutes in Wellington on Sunday before Costa Barbarouses equalised before half-time for the Phoenix 26 points), who failed to capitalise on the Mariners' (28) stuttering form by picking up just one point in their last two games.

Melbourne (35) sit in second place behind Adelaide (35) on goal difference after a comfortable 3-0 victory over Central Coast at Telstra Dome on Friday to bounce back from their disappointing 3-2 reverse at Perth in round 19.

Danny Allsopp, Ney Fabiano and Archie Thompson were on target for Ernie Merrick's men who trail Adelaide by just two goals.

Queensland (33), who sit in third, have hit form just at the right time and their 3-1 win over Sydney FC on Saturday snuffed out any hopes John Kosmina's side had of reaching the finals.

Sergio van Dijk's return to form in front of goal has helped the Roar fire, and his hat-trick at Suncorp Stadium in front of a crowd of over 19,000 was the final nail in Sydney's horror season.

They will miss the finals for the first time, leaving Kosmina's future very much in doubt.

The one bright spot for Sydney was Kofi Danning's second goal in as many games. The 17-year-old rose superbly to head home past Griffin McMaster in the first half, but it proved to be the only positive note of the evening for the visitors who had young defender Zach Cairncross sent off..

Kosmina showed the pressure he is under in his post-match press conference as he called Queensland coach Frank Farina a liar after a fiery discussion between the pair on the sideline at the final whistle.

The Roar can still clinch the Minor Premiership for the first time next weekend if they beat Perth at Suncorp Stadium and Melbourne and Adelaide both lose.

The Mariners have felt the full force of Mile Jedinak's departure to Turkey but they will go into next Sunday night's game with the advantage of knowing their destiny as Melbourne and Wellington meet on Friday night.

In the final game of the round, Newcastle Jets beat Perth Glory 2-1 in a low-key clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium between two sides with nothing at stake but pride.

The Jets fielded a youthful side without marquee player Joel Griffiths who was sidelined through a hamstring injury.

Perth were without top scorer Eugene Dadi, who has started his loan spell in Switzerland with FC Vaduz, and Nikita Rukavytsa who is on trial with Dutch club FC Twente.

Antun Kovacic headed the Jets in front just before half-time and Mark Milligan converted a penalty 10 minutes into the second half.

Perth hit back with a Scott Bulloch strike after 65 minutes but it was not enough to stop the reigning A-League champions ending their disappointing home season on a winning note.

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