Only 2 weeks to go until finals time! Before last weekend it seemed all positions, apart from top spot, were up for grabs. The last two finals places, 5th and 6th looked like dramatically going down to the wire. The weekend and midweek results seemed to have made things much clearer. Brisbane will take top spot and Central Coast are likely to snare second. Adelaide would have to drop points in their final 2 games not to finish 3rd ahead of the Gold Coast. Melbourne Victory are safe in 5th and only a major catastrophe can stop Wellington sneaking into 6th. That leaves Melbourne Heart and Newcastle on the outer.
There are only 4 games this weekend with North Queensland versus Brisbane postponed due to the impacts from Cyclone Yasi.
The pick of the weekend will be Melbourne Heart’s do or die clash with Central Coast on Friday Night and Wellington’s visit to Adelaide. If the Heart and the Phoenix both drop points, then Newcastle’s match against Sydney on the Sunday takes on greater significance.
Melbourne Heart v Central Coast Mariners (AEDT 2000)
This is massive for the Melbourne club in its rookie season. Melbourne are two points outside the top 6 and have played 1 game extra than Wellington, the team currently occupying 6th spot. A win here is essential to put pressure on the Phoenix. Can they do it? I don’t think they can. Despite playing some decent football lately, the Heart have ran into quality opposition and haven’t won in 4 matches. The Mariners are a classy opponent who are 6 games unbeaten and have won their last 3 away fixtures. Central Coast are likely to field the same starting 11 that accounted for Adelaide at Hindmarsh last weekend. I’m going to bank on their away form continuing.
Andy’s Bet: Central Coast to win @ 2.40 (Centrebet)
Andy’s Bet: Matt Simon to score at anytime @ 2.90 (Centrebet)
Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix (AEDT 1900)
This is interesting. Adelaide were surprisingly beaten at home last weekend, but bounced back with a hard earned point away to the Gold Coast midweek. Adelaide midfielder Paul Reid was sent off in that one, but his red card has since been rescinded and he is free to play on the weekend. My general method with Wellington is to back them to win at home and lose away. This tactic has worked 9 of their last 10 matches. Both sides are likely to bring in a defender for the match. Jade North is back from international duty for the Socceroos and will slot straight into the Phoenix back 4, while Croatian Dario Budrasic is tipped to debut for Adelaide.
Andy’s Bet: Adelaide to win @ 1.60 (TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Adelaide to win by 2 or more goals @ 2.50 (TAB Sportsbet)
Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC (AEDT 1700)
Newcastle need a combination of wins and specific other teams to lose if they are to participate in the finals. As crazy as it seems, Sydney could overtake the Jets with a win. If other results went their way this weekend, a win could lift the sky blues to just 1 win outside the top 6 with 2 games to play! They are an excellent chance to beat a Newcastle side who have lost 4 on the spin and 7 of their last 9. Sydney have beaten the Jets both times they have met this season, including a 2-1 win at this ground in January. The Jets are still missing Ryan Griffiths who serves the final match of his suspension. He is just one of a number of players out missing. I can see Sydney running over the top of an under strength Jets line up.
Andy’s Bet: Sydney to be drawing at half time and to win at full time @ 5.00 (Luxbet)
Perth Glory v Gold Coast United (AEDT 2000)
I am tipping an upset to round out the week! Perth will be looking to finish a poor season an a good note with a victory in their last home outing. Gold Coast have an injury ravaged squad with little to play for in this match as they are safe in 4th spot and this result is unlikely to move them up or drop them down. Perth have upset Adelaide and the Central Coast recently at home, so they are more than just a sneaky chance for a victory over the Gold Coast as well.
Andy’s Bet: Perth Glory to win @ 3.60 (Sportsbet)