Another A-League coaching casualty came in the form of Mehmet Durakovic's sacking by Melbourne Victory on Friday, but his replacement Jim Magilton watched his new club claim a win over Newcastle Jets just 24 hours later. The Central Coast Mariners notched game number 12 without loss as they edged Sydney FC, while Perth made the most of their long journey to Wellington. Meanwhile, Brisbane held Adelaide and Gold Coast came back to earn a point at home against Melbourne Heart.
A hard pick, but for sheer logistics it's hard to go past the effort of Perth Glory this week as they crossed three time zones to pick up as many points in Wellington. It may not have been the prettiest performance in a rainy, windswept Westpac Stadium, but Ian Ferguson will be thrilled with the character of his side as they look to keep pace with the league's top teams.
Sydney FC's season is now officially on the line. An odd thing to say, perhaps, of the division's fifth-placed side, but yet another slow start cost the Sky Blues, who must now recover quickly if they are to remain in the top six. A real lack of spark up front is so often the problem for Sydney, and so it proved again on Sunday evening as the Central Coast claimed the win at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Carlos Hernandez was instrumental for Melbourne Victory against Newcastle, who notched their fourth win of the season. The Costa Rica playmaker showed the sort of poise and class A-League fans have come to expect, providing numerous opportunities for strike pair Archie Thompson and Danny Allsopp. Hernandez's delightfully-weighted through-ball for the latter to run on to in the lead up to Tarek Elrich's red card was breathtaking and his skill and vision prior to Sung-Hwan Byun's second own goal to seal the win was another highlight of the round.
It would be easy to go with Newcastle's Byun for scoring two own goals, but a "flop" for quite different reasons to the norm was the sight of Melbourne Heart's Fred limping off with a groin complaint and shedding a tear on the sidelines - a startling reminder of how the mighty can fall. An influential midfielder of the highest order, many still fondly remember Fred orchestrating a successful Victory side in his first stint in the A-League. After the match at the weekend, John van't Schip suggested Fred could be out "for a few weeks" in what is turning out to be a horror, injury-plagued season for the Brazilian. Fans of all A-League clubs, I'm sure, hope he's back soon.
All of the coaching talk in the A-League has been centred around Melbourne Victory this past week, so it is fitting to give Kevin Muscat some recognition. Though both his side's goals were scored by the opposition, it was a much-needed three points for the Victorians in Muscat's first game as a head coach - albeit as a temporary role. If nothing else, the win allows Jim Magilton time to structure the team in his style without the pressure of fighting their way up from near the bottom of the table.
Vitezslav Lavicka wins back-to-back titles in this category as a home loss to local rivals Central Coast leaves many to ponder his future at the club. There have been question marks over Lavicka's tenure for some time, but the chorus of boos which echoed out as the Czech's face was displayed on the big screen after the loss to the Mariners suggest next Saturday's crunch clash away to Brisbane could be a defining one. If Sydney lose and slip out of the top six, the A-League could lose another head coach.
GOAL OF THE WEEK
Kristian Sarkies' strike to open the scoring for Melbourne Heart must get the nod if only because of the rarity of a goal direct from a free-kick in the A-League.
SAVE OF THE WEEK
Perth goalkeeper Danny Vukovic had little to against the Phoenix, but it is so often the sign of a quality goalkeeper when one is able to keep their concentration and make a vital save when eventually called upon. Such an occasion took place when Steve Pantelidis' clearance appeared bound for an own goal before Vukovic intervened to maintain a clean sheet in truly awful conditions.