"I want people to talk about the football and say, 'there was that team that Newcastle had and we loved going to watch them play, it was exciting and they always had it go'", says Newcastle Jets head coach Arthur Papas.

There are so many similarities between Papas and Australian trailblazer Ange Postecoglou, who is now embarking on his journey as manager of Scottish giants Celtic.

Postecoglou has an unrelenting belief in his philosophy, with an emphasis on a high-octane style of attacking football. Papas is no different.

That entertaining football delivered Yokohama F.Marinos their first J1 League crown in 15 years in 2019. Papas was Postecoglou's assistant during two highly successful seasons in Japan.

After almost 10 years and priceless journeys across India, Saudi Arabia and Japan, Papas is back in Australia and in the Hunter Valley, this time as coach of Jets.

Papas – who spent less than a year as an assistant with the Jets in 2011-12 – is Down Under to be closer to family, having been appointed head coach of J3 League outfit Kagoshima United in December.

The 41-year-old is now tasked with restoring the glory days to McDonald Jones Stadium, where the 2008 A-League champions have fallen on tough times.

Newcastle have missed the finals for the past three seasons, finishing seventh in 2019, eighth in 2020 and 11th in the 12-team competition last season.

"We're all aiming for success," Papas told Stats Perform. "I'm not in this just to get into the finals. That's not enough, the bar isn't low. There's no ceiling with what I want to achieve with this club. There shouldn't be. Anyone who puts a ceiling on it straight away has basically cancelled any ambition of where you could go.

"But, the main thing is I want people to talk about the football and say 'there was that team that Newcastle had and we loved going to watch them play, it was exciting and always had it go and okay, didn't get it right every time', but they could resonate with our football and they don't forget that. If we're able to achieve that, we would have done something special. Normally, if you have achieved that, you also would've got pretty close to being quite successful in terms of results."

Papas added: "You can be in a club where you're playing exciting football, but there's nothing better than having that in front of 10-15,000 people. The difference is in this league, you can also have teams that could do that but not attract that support. For me, the big reason is the supporters of the club because I know when this place gets it right, it's one of the most difficult places to come in the A-League, the strongest support and genuinely get behind the team.

"They've had some lean years but that's why the challenge is so great. You don’t want to be doing it in front of an empty stadium. It's going to generate momentum for us. It's going to take a bit of time because the football I like to play doesn't happen overnight, but it's going to happen because I'm so clear in how I work and the vision I have for how to build teams and play a certain brand of football. Then the idea is we're all connected and doing it together, including the whole region."

 

Since reaching the 2018 A-League Grand Final, the Jets have a 30 per cent winning percentage in the competition – Central Coast Mariners (25 per cent) are the only team with a lower win rate than Newcastle across the last three seasons.

The Jets have had an expected goals (xG) per game value of 1.6, the sixth-most of any team in the last three seasons; however they have scored 33 goals fewer than their xG suggests they should have – by far the largest negative difference of any team in the competition in that time.

"It's a really interesting job in terms of A-League context," Papas said. "Maybe every five or six years there's a good year and then it really falls away. There's so many reasons for that I'm sure. There's been constant talk about the ownership model, which hasn't created the stability that the club and region deserve.

"It's the kind of thing that I normally do, put myself in really difficult situations and relish those challenges. I believe we can do something special there."

Newcastle have won only 19 points from losing positions in the last three seasons of the A-League – the joint-fewest of any team among those to have participated in all three campaigns (Macarthur FC - 10pts).

The Mariners (92) and Jets (96) are the only teams to have participated in each of the last three A-League seasons but scored fewer than 100 goals across them.

Former boss Carl Robinson (60 per cent) – now in charge of Western Sydney Wanderers – is the only man to have won at least one third of his games as manager of the Jets across the last three A-League seasons.

But Papas has already set out to rebuild the Jets, luring Cameron Devlin, eight-time Australia international Matthew Jurman, Dane Ingham and Mohamed Al-Taay to the club, while boosting his staff with the arrivals of Arthur Diles, Huss Skenderovic and Riccardo Marchioli.

"It always has to be aligned to the vision I have for how we want to play and behave," Papas said. "No disrespect to anything been happening there, it's more about when you come in, you need as many people on the bus as possible to move in the same direction. I don't really compromise any part of how I see football being played, to be successful and winning teams. It's more identifying characters and kind of characteristics to play that type of football.

"The main thing is we need certain physical and technical profiles and certain characters. I know it sounds a bit cliché but after you speak to different people, I'm confident we've done some good business so far."

"The main part for me is we have a certain culture within the staff and competency to deliver a world-class program, that is really the goal," he continued. "To deliver an environment and program that players come and all they think about is today I'm going to get better and how am I going to get better and our staff are driving that daily. I feel, amongst improving players, I have a greater job than that and it's about how do we align the staff and improve those areas to make sure players come in and know they're coming into a special environment. We will create that because I have experiences now, I've seen it first-hand at the best levels in Asia under one of the best managers in the world and that's added layers to my coaching I'm sure. I'm constantly trying to grow and improve, which I've done from day one."

Papas is relying heavily on data to shape his team and turn the Jets into title contenders, adding: "It's part of the story for me and how we work. We utilised it extremely well in Japan. It depends on resources also. I'm not big on using data for data.

"I've developed a model over time that is specific to giving us ideas on what makes our game tick or not. We can use some of that to quantify what's happening but at the end of the day, it's not going to give you a total picture. It just gives you a framework. It's an evidence-based research in essence. It's very difficult for managers to do this because we get caught up in the emotions of that result on Saturday and that result evidently defines us but doesn't always show a true reflection of what's really happening.

"We've won games at times where I thought we weren't really where we needed to be and our data didn't actually stack up in terms of what we define as a game where we were strong across all areas. Other games, you lose and can't work out how you lost because you have a certain about of ball possession, expected goals … what do you do with these situations as well? I have certain data which I consistently refer to, whether it's physical or technical, that gives me a clear reflection of if we're on track or not."

Papas, who brings vast experience to the Jets and the A-League, returns to Australia at a time when calls for a national second division grow louder.

Beyond the A-League, Australian football currently relies on clubs in eight separate National Premier Leagues (NPL) as part of a mainly semi-professional second tier.

The Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC) has already detailed their plans for a national second division amid hopes it could be introduced by the end of 2022.

As nations across Asia continue to invest and improve, Papas – who has coached India's Under-23 team, Pailan Arrows, Dempo and worked as an assistant for Saudi side Ettifaq FC and NorthEast United – said: "In terms of resources, I don't think we're competing at all.

"I've had some interesting stuff come to me over this period of coming back to Australia. I was working in J3 for example and people weren't sure if that was even full-time or not. I was a bit surprised by the naivety of that question because I had 11 full-time staff around me. The office has 30-plus people working around the clock. The resources available you can't even imagine and that goes all the way down to their academy systems. The important thing is you need to know what's happening out there. Between Saudi Arabia, Japan and the Indian Super League, they're all ranked in the top-eight leagues in Asia right now and I've been through all of them.

"I've got to see so many parts of why Asia is progressing and I think we're still progressing at our own speed. The difference is the speed of it, are we progressing at the same speed at some of the other countries? Are we able to resource our leagues and academies at the same level? We have huge difficulties in establishing a second division as an example. In Japan, they have over 50 full-time professional clubs, so the opportunities are so much more available for young players. The problem is here, when you're not at a professional level, the drop is too big and it doesn't compare. Over time, it just makes the gap wider and wider. That is why it's important to think about creating a second division because it will create opportunities. Not only opportunities for players but for staff, administrators, coaches. Our ecosystem keeps growing and growing, and that's when you're finding people are climbing up the chain.

"Unfortunately there's just not enough opportunities and that's what prompted a lot of my choices in terms of my career. It's no disrespect to the NPLs etc, but it's so far away from what happens and professional level. The longer you stay at that level, the harder it is to think you can just jump to the next level."

Melbourne City gained revenge over 10-man Sydney FC with a 3-1 Grand Final victory to claim a first A-League title at AAMI Park on Sunday.

City were beaten by the Sky Blues in the Grand Final last year, but Patrick Kisnorbo's side were not to be denied this time around as they completed a Premiership-Championship double.

Kosta Barbarouses put the defending champions in front, but Nathaniel Atkinson equalised soon after and Sydney were rocked by Luke Brattan's first-half dismissal for a second bookable offence.

Scott Jamieson's penalty put Melbourne in front on the stroke of half-time and Scott Galloway sealed the victory in stoppage time at the end of a dramatic final, with Sydney unable to become the first team to win three successive titles.

After going 10 seasons without lifting a trophy, Melbourne have claimed two in the space of five weeks.

The defending champions drew first blood against the run of play with 21 minutes played, Barbarouses rifling into the bottom-left corner of the net with his right foot from just outside the penalty area on the counter-attack.

City were level just a couple of minutes later, though, Atkinson firing into the top-right corner following an incisive run from Stefan Colakovski.

The Sky Blues suffered a huge blow 10 minutes before the break as Brattan was given his marching orders by referee Chris Beath for a challenge on Marco Tilio.

Sydney felt aggrieved once again when Beath pointed to the spot after Adrian Luna went down seemingly following minimal contact from Anthony Caceres, with Jamieson sending Thomas Heward-Belle from the spot on the stroke of half-time,

Melbourne applied huge pressure in the second half but the third goal proved to be elusive until Galloway found the back of the net with his left foot with time almost up.

Melbourne City scored twice inside two minutes in the second half to overcome Macarthur 2-0 and set an A-League Grand Final rerun against reigning champions Sydney FC.

After a goalless first 45 minutes at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium – the alternative venue for the fixture due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in Melbourne – City suddenly seized control of the contest.

Marco Tilio created space out wide to send over a low cross that Stefan Colakovski converted at the near post in the 54th minute.

Macarthur came into the game on a five-match unbeaten away run but fell further behind when the same pairing helped Melbourne double their advantage.

Colakovski was the provider second time around, latching onto a long ball before squaring a pass across for the supporting Tilio to finish beyond goalkeeper Adam Federici.

At 19 years and 301 days, teenager Tilio becomes the third-youngest player to score in a semi-final in the competition, behind only Riley McGree and Mitch Nichols.

Sydney had booked a return ticket to the Grand Final on Saturday, edging out Adelaide United 2-1 thanks to first-half goals from Adam Le Fondre and Bobo. They won the title in 2020 thanks to an extra-time winner from Rhyan Grant.

Sydney FC remain on course for a third straight A-League Championship after beating Adelaide United 2-1 at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Saturday's semi-final.

Adelaide produced an upset by beating Brisbane Roar in the Elimination Finals but could not replicate that performance in their semi-final with Sydney.

Adam Le Fondre was on target when the sides met in the regular season last month and converted from the penalty spot to put the hosts ahead in Saturday's clash.

Brazilian striker Bobo added a second before half-time and the Sky Blues held on, despite Le Fondre's penalty miss and Juande's stunning strike to set up a nervy finish.

The home team were awarded a  24th-minute penalty for James Delianov's challenge on Kosta Barbarouses, with Le Fondre sending the goalkeeper the wrong way from 12 yards.

Bobo doubled his side's advantage with a sliding first-time shot to round off a well-crafted move just before the break.

It looked like being plain sailing for Sydney when Javi Lopez took out Barbarouses in the box, but Le Fondre's penalty was saved by Delianov and that sparked an Adelaide revival.

Tomi Juric's free-kick hit the Sydney wall but Juande thumped in the loose ball from 20 yards with a little over 25 minutes still to play.

Thomas Heward-Belle was required to keep out efforts from Juric and Jordan Elsey, but Sydney held on to reach their third final in a row and a fifth in seven years.

Melbourne City and Macarthur FC meet in the other semi-final on Sunday.

"The biggest trouble with Celtic is trying to keep hold of Ange. In three or four years, you're going to have the same situation. He has won multiple titles and he will be trying to get a move to England or one of the big leagues. That is his pathway."

Ange Postecoglou is cut from the same cloth as Pep Guardiola and Maurizio Sarri – an emphasis on a high-octane style of attacking football, with an unrelenting belief in their philosophy.

But his appointment as Celtic manager has caused a stir in Scotland. Fans have questioned his ability and credibility to make the step from Asian to European football.

Postecoglou has been tasked with leading an embattled Celtic back to the Scottish summit after the Bhoys were dethroned by bitter rivals Rangers in 2020-21.

There are some parallels to legendary manager Arsene Wenger. Like Postecoglou, the Frenchman had history in Japan, having spent a year with Nagoya Grampus before being brought to the UK by Arsenal in 1996.

Social media was not around at the time of Wenger's Gunners arrival, though it would be safe to assume he would have been subjected to similar criticism from a supporter base desperate to wrestle the trophy back to Celtic Park.

Those questioning Postecoglou's pedigree should look no further than his CV – the most decorated coach in Australian football history, having also transcended and changed the landscape of the sport Down Under.

From South Melbourne to Australia and Japan, Postecoglou has won it all – a pair of National Soccer League championships, back-to-back A-League titles, a record 36-match unbeaten streak at Brisbane Roar, plus a ground-breaking 2015 Asian Cup triumph with the Socceroos and a J1 League crown with Yokohama F.Marinos, while silencing his doubters.

A former Australia international, Postecoglou – who delivered two NSL trophies within three years of his tenure in charge of boyhood club South Melbourne – truly announced himself at the helm of 'Roarcelona'.

After a brief and unsuccessful stint in Greece in 2008, followed by a short spell in the semi-professional state league in Victoria which resulted in relegation, Postecoglou landed in Brisbane the following year.

Postecoglou oversaw a rebuild and after asking to be judged a year from the time he replaced ex-Socceroos boss Frank Farina, his project culminated in the development of arguably the greatest footballing side in the history of Australian football.

Playing an entertaining and possession-based brand of football, the Roar won the championship in 2010-11 and successfully defended their trophy the following season amid a 36-game unbeaten streak – an all-time Australian football code record for the longest undefeated run, surpassing rugby league outfit Eastern Suburbs' record set 74 years prior.

Postecoglou also coached Melbourne Victory before his Australia appointment in 2013. In the A-League, his teams scored 1.7 goals per game; only one head coach (minimum 30 games) has a higher average in the competition's history (Graham Arnold - 1.8).

The Greek-born boss left Australia's domestic competition with a 51 per cent win percentage as head coach – the joint-fifth best of any manager in the competition's history.

Erik Paartalu was one of Postecoglou's first signings as Roar coach and the ex-Australia international told Stats Perform: "He will be absolutely buzzing. He isn't the type to take a job on lightly. He would've researched beforehand. I'm sure he's probably been offered jobs of this calibre before but wasn't ready.

"Ange has always been ambitious. This guy just doesn't stop. Any other Australian coach that would've won the J.League would've just stopped there and chilled out in Asia. The guy is in his mid-50s. He would've researched this whole situation at Celtic, who is leaving and who is coming, who can I get in? I know he's already thought about his next step from here."

"With Ange, it was the tactical side of it where he explained and broke things down so easily on the pitch, whether that be playing 11-v-seven, so you would have a huge overload and confidence in possession. Or if it was in a video session, always pointing out the good things about people," said Paartalu as he reflected on his Roar days. "He always pumped up the smaller details of the team. His way to getting us to feel, you just felt so confident."

Postecoglou, like Manchester City's Guardiola and former Chelsea and Juventus boss Sarri, pushes the boundaries. Firmly set in his belief of how football should be played, Postecoglou's approach never waivers and success follows the 55-year-old in his pursuit of excellence.

"That's what we loved about him," Postecoglou said. "We went on that unbeaten streak and then lost five in a row. Never even mentioned getting close to the record. It was just like 'if we play the way we play, we'll wipe this team off the park'.

"In the first grand final [2011 against Central Coast Mariners], the goal I scored in the last couple of seconds [of extra time, 120th minute to force penalties after 2-2 draw], it was the build-up before that showed everything that we're about. [Michael] Theo had the ball and could've gone long, but he throws it to [Massimo] Murdocca and we build up from the back and get a corner. That was so typical of the way he wanted us to play. Even in training, it was like, 'don't put the ball above waist height or in the air'. If you did that, you had to give the ball to the other team. So we were drilled into knowing short passes, through lines, everyone in the right position, movement off the ball, entry points on the edge of the box, guys overlapping, 4-3-3 and don't cross the ball in if you're not sure. That was his blueprint. We were going to play his way all the way to the death. When we lost five in a row, he never got angry. He was so clear, saying keep doing it, be confident, keeping passing the ball.

"He definitely improves players' game intelligence when they work under him. You feel 10-feet tall and just know your job inside and out because of the way he prepares you."

Handpicked to introduce style and substance to the Socceroos in 2013, Postecoglou led Australia at the 2014 World Cup. Undaunted by the 'Group of Death', Australia left Brazil emptyhanded, but took it to Chile, the Netherlands and holders Spain in stunning fashion.

Postecoglou delivered a first Asian Cup to Australia in 2015, while he secured qualification for the 2018 World Cup before stepping down prior to the Russian showpiece.

The Socceroos scored 86 goals in A-Internationals under Postecoglou – the second most they have scored under any manager since the beginning of 1965 (Frank Farina - 197). Australia won 22 games during his tenure; only two managers have won more since the beginning of 1965 (Frank Farina - 34 and Holger Osieck - 23).

Postecoglou eventually landed at F.Marinos – part of the City Football Group – in 2018.

Physical performance coach Gregory King was part of the team Postecoglou put together to accompany him on his journey in Japan, where he ended F.Marinos' 15-year wait for league glory in 2019.

Postecoglou left F.Marinos with the highest winning percentage (49.2 – 58 victories in 118 games) in the history of the club. Since joining the Yokohama club, only two managers have a better winning percentage than Postecoglou; Toru Oniki (65) and Go Oiwa (50) from a minimum of 10 games.

Despite the language barrier, F.Marinos bought into the Postecoglou way. Since 2018, the team ranked first for passing accuracy (86.5) and possession (63.2), while they were second for goals per game (1.9), expected goals per game (1.8), shots per game (15.2), shots on target per game (5.3), shot conversion rate (12.6), shooting accuracy (47.2), chances created per game (11.4), passes per game (619.4), passing accuracy in opposition half (82.4), big chance total per game (2.4), big chance created per game (1.8) and big chance scored per game (1.1).

"He definitely has a really good understanding from conditioning, strength and sport-science point of view," King told Stats Perform. "His attention to detail is optimal. You know you can't pull the wool over his eyes. He knows everything going on within his team but he lets you run your own department. He gives you a license to achieve the objectives of the team in your own way."

During F.Marinos' triumphant season in 2019, Postecoglou's men covered the greatest distance in the J1 League (116.48), ahead of Oita Trinita (114.79km). They also tallied the most total sprints with 191, more than FC Tokyo (174).

As Postecoglou prepares to take pre-season training with Celtic, King said: "They're definitely in for a lot of hard work. Really quality football sessions based around the principles of how he wants to play. But, there's no holding back in terms of intensity.

"I think they will enjoy the sessions, however they will be pushed physically. The football we played in Yokohama was extremely high intensity. The physical qualities have to be at their peak. We expected our best players to play regularly, so to be able to do that, the players have to have a lot of good hard work behind them and to be able to cope with it."

"I'd be very surprised if he wasn't looking closely at injury history, how many games they've been able to play over the past seasons in terms of durability. Speed is obviously a massive factor from the forwards and also the centre-backs being able to play really aggressive and a high line. You can only do so much when you have them. We feel we can improve them all physically but from a conditioning point of view, you have to recruit players strong in those areas already to be able to play the way we did."

Adelaide United progressed to the A-League semi-finals with a 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar, but look set to be without winger Craig Goodwin for a clash with Sydney FC.

A first-half double from Tomi Juric saw Adelaide into the last four, with Brisbane unable to complete a comeback despite Alex Parsons pulling a goal back in the 56th minute.

They now face Sydney for a place in the Grand Final, having come through their elimination match minus Goodwin.

Goodwin suffered an ankle injury in training on Saturday and coach Carl Veart said: "He'll have a scan on Tuesday.

"He's had an X-ray, there's no break there but the way he went down, the pain he was in, it didn't look good.

 

"We can keep our fingers crossed and hopefully it's not too bad but he was in a lot of pain so I think it will be fairly serious."

On loan from Saudi club Abha, Goodwin has been instrumental for Adelaide this season.

He has scored eight goals and provided five assists, with his 53 chances created the eighth-most in the A-League.

A-League premiers Melbourne City suffered a shock late defeat in their final game of the regular season as Newcastle Jets emerged 2-1 victors to move off the foot of the table, with a historic goal for Archie Goodwin among the highlights.

It looked as though City – winners of the season's first phase – were going to coast to their 16th A-League victory of the season when Stefan Colakovski turned in Adrian Luna's low cross in the ninth minute.

However, Goodwin levelled in some style 14 minutes later, collecting a backheeled pass from Lucas Mauragis before nonchalantly curling a stunning 25-yard strike into the far side of the net.

In doing so, Goodwin – aged 16 years and 215 days – became the club's youngest-ever A-League scorer, and second only to Mohamed Toure (15y, 325d) in the competition's history.

The Jets then completed the turnaround with a minute of regulation time to go, Apostolos Stamatelopoulos – who came on for Goodwin – meeting Mauragis' teasing free-kick delivery with a glancing header that found the bottom-left corner.

Jack Duncan in the Jets' net then had to be alert to keep out Nathaniel Atkinson's close-range effort a few seconds after the restart, thus clinching a result that ensured Craig Deans' men moved off the bottom of the table, with Melbourne Victory taking their place.

City finish top regardless, two points clear of Sydney FC, and now turn their attention towards the semi-finals on June 20, where they await the lowest-ranked winner of the elimination-finals.

Melbourne Victory equalised with almost the final kick of the game as they held A-League Premiers Melbourne City to a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

City were on a three-match winning run in the derby and had won the previous meetings this season 6-0 and 7-0, leaving them just two short of the competition record for goals against the same opponent in a single campaign.

However, it took until the 54th minute for City to find the breakthrough – Nicholas Ansell turning the ball into his own net following Naoki Tsubaki's cross from the right.

Victory striker Rudy Gestede fired over when given a good chance to level and a fine save from Tom Glover denied the former Aston Villa man four minutes later.

City thought they had settled the contest as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, but a VAR review disallowed Anthony Lesiotis' tap-in for offside.

The home side continued to push for a leveller and it came in the fifth minute of injury time, substitute Lleyton Brooks firing a half-volley into the top-right corner after City failed to clear a corner.

Victory's cheers resounded around the empty stands of AAMI Park as the result means they are one point above Newcastle Jets at the foot of the table.

They will avoid the wooden spoon if the Jets are beaten in their final match with City, a game which was postponed last month due to lockdown restrictions in Melbourne.

Melbourne Victory equalised with almost the final kick of the game as they held A-League Premiers Melbourne City to a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

City were on a three-match winning run in the derby and had won the previous meetings this season 6-0 and 7-0, leaving them just two short of the competition record for goals against the same opponent in a single campaign.

However, it took until the 54th minute for City to find the breakthrough – Nicholas Ansell turning the ball into his own net following Naoki Tsubaki's cross from the right.

Victory striker Rudy Gestede fired over when given a good chance to level and a fine save from Tom Glover denied the former Aston Villa man four minutes later.

City thought they had settled the contest as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, but a VAR review disallowed Anthony Lesiotis' tap-in for offside.

The home side continued to push for a leveller and it came in the fifth minute of injury time, substitute Lleyton Brooks firing a half-volley into the top-right corner after City failed to clear a corner.

Victory's cheers resounded around the empty stands of AAMI Park as the result means they are one point above Newcastle Jets at the foot of the table.

They will avoid the wooden spoon if the Jets are beaten in their final match with City, a game which was postponed last month due to lockdown restrictions in Melbourne.

Macarthur were unable to earn a home A-league elimination-final clash after being comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Wellington Phoenix, who ended their season on a high but with a lingering sense of 'what if'.

The Phoenix opened the scoring just before half-time through David Ball, who latched on to Tomer Hemed's backheeled pass before finishing into the bottom-left corner past Adam Federici.

A lightning start to the second period had the Phoenix 2-0 up within a minute of the restart, Hemed converting a simple tap-in after the ball fortuitously fell for him in the box.

Things went from bad to worse for the Bulls just before the hour as Loic Puyo had a yellow card upgraded to a red by VAR after catching Ulises Davila on the knee – the Mexican and his Phoenix team-mates showed sympathy with him, however, with replays showing the Frenchman had attempted to pull out from the collision.

Hemed had the chance to make it 3-0 in the 85th minute but saw his penalty saved after Lachlam Rose brought Louis Fenton down in the box.

But the visitors did get a third goal in stoppage time, Ben Waine collecting Ball's pass and slotting in just three minutes after replacing the lively Reno Piscopo.

Phoenix's performance was one of a team who should be in the Finals, but they end the season a point behind adrift of the top six, while Macarthur's first ever A-League campaign continues.

The Bulls go into the Finals as the lowest-ranked team, meaning they will not be able count on home advantage – not that it did them much good here – in their elimination-final.

Adelaide United booked their place in the A-League Finals with a 2-2 draw against 10-man Western Sydney Wanderers at Coopers Stadium thanks to Craig Goodwin's goal.

The hosts required only a point to make certain of a top-six finish and they were ahead inside 11 minutes when Ziggy Gordon turned Ryan Strain's shot into his own net.

However, Wanderers had lost only one of their last eight league meetings away at United and were back on level terms thanks to a Bruce Kamau shot that deflected in off Strain.

Carl Robinson's side had been eliminated from the top-six picture before kick-off yet they found themselves ahead against United through Graham Dorrans' low drive with half an hour played.

A red card for Tass Mourdoukoutas six minutes later following a reckless challenge on Louis D'Arrigo gave United hope but the visitors held firm until the 56th minute.

Goodwin peeled away at the back post and thumped a low shot past Daniel Margush for his third goal in five games.

That proved to be it as Carl Veart's men held on to pick up a draw which keeps them on course for A-League glory and ended Wellington Phoenix's Finals hopes in the process.

Brisbane Roar confirmed their place in the A-League Finals thanks to a 2-1 win over Perth Glory, whose own top-six hopes were ended on Wednesday.

Glory required a win to remain in contention for a spot in the Finals, but found themselves trailing early in the second half.

Jonathan AspropotamItis could not get out of the way of a cross and diverted it into his own net as Brisbane edged closer to the Finals.

Riku Danzaki ultimately got the goal that sealed their qualification in brilliant fashion.

He raced on to Alex Parsons' pass in behind the defence on the break and, although Daryl Lachman caught up, Danzaki produced a clever turn to leave him in his tracks before slotting into the bottom-left corner with 17 minutes to go.

Perth pulled one back through Brandon Wilson, who volleyed in from close range in the 85th minute, but it was too little, too late.

Central Coast Mariners missed the chance to guarantee a top-six finish in the A-League regular season as they suffered a shock 2-0 home defeat to lowly Newcastle Jets.

The division's bottom team ended a run of 14 games without victory as they enhanced their chances of climbing off the foot of the table before the end of the campaign.

The Mariners sit third but their finals series hopes will go down to the last round of games, which sees them host Western United on Saturday, if Perth Glory beat Brisbane Roar on Wednesday.

Having dominated the opening exchanges at Central Coast Stadium, the hosts' evening took a turn for the worse in the 27th minute when they were hit by a well-executed counter-attack.

A poor headed clearance landed to 16-year-old Archie Goodwin, who made the most of the space he was afforded to play in Ray O'Donovan for an excellent finish into the far left corner.

Newcastle made it 2-0 just six minutes later, Lucas Mauragis twice winning the ball high up the pitch before latching onto Angus Thurgate's through pass to squeeze the ball home.

Central Coast throught they had found a way back into the game before the break, only for a Daniel Bouman close-range strike to be ruled out for offside.

Alen Stajcic's home side started the second period in similar fashion to the first, controlling possession and constantly probing the visitors' backline.

But they came up against a surprisingly obdurate Newcastle defence that, ultimately, did not give up a chance of real note as they eased to a deserved three points.

Macarthur tightened their grip on a top-six spot in the A-League courtesy of a 2-1 win at lowly Western United.

The Bulls look set to secure a finals berth in their maiden campaign, with Ante Milicic's side boasting a four-point gap to seventh-placed Wellington Phoenix, who they play on Friday in their final regular-season game.

First-half goals from Markel Susaeta and Mark Milligan proved enough to get the job done on Monday, with Iker Guarrotxena netting United's consolation.

While the hosts have now lost seven on the bounce, Macarthur have suffered only one defeat in their past eight matches.

Matt Derbyshire set up both goals for the visitors, his headed knockdown handing Susaeta the chance to finish deftly past Ryan Scott in the 27th minute.

And just four minutes later the Englishman teed up Milligan to rifle home from outside the area.

Guarrotxena's powerful second-half header gave United hope but there was to be no comeback.

Ninth-placed Perth Glory are the only team that could deny Macarthur a top-six finish. They sit six points adrift of Macarthur but have a game in hand.

Liam Reddy's 90th-minute penalty save earned Perth Glory a 2-2 draw with Wellington Phoenix at Eden Park in a result that leaves both sides' A-League Finals hopes hanging in the balance.

Phoenix opened the scoring in Sunday's match through Tomer Hemed's fifth goal in four games.

That well-taken strike was cancelled out by substitute Bruno Fornaroli's composed finish past Oliver Sail, before Callum Timmins completed the turnaround with a sensational long-ranger.

Perth were unable to hold on for a first away win in seven attempts, though, as another Wellington substitute in Jaushua Sotirio curled in an equaliser six minutes later.

There was still time for more late drama as Cameron Devlin went down under a challenge from Nick D'Agostino, only for Ulises Davila's resulting penalty to be kept out by Reddy.

Wellington are now unbeaten in a club-record 10 A-League games, but they are one point outside the top six having played a game more than Macarthur, while Perth are two points further back.

Brisbane Roar still have work to do if they are to seal a Finals berth, meanwhile, after losing 2-0 at Western Sydney Wanderers in the second of Sunday's matches.

Wanderers had lost three games in a row heading into the contest at Bankwest Stadium, but goals from Bernie Ibini and Bruce Kamau kept their slim top-six hopes just about alive.

Daniel Margush starred for the home side with six saves, including a couple of fine stops to keep out Riku Danzaki either side of Ibidi's 20-yard shot into the bottom-left corner.

The visitors pushed hard for an equaliser and had a penalty shout rejected when Jesse Daley went down inside the box under contact from Ziggy Gordon.

With players committed forward, Roar had a chance to pick off their opponents late on and Kamau made the most of his opportunity by chipping the ball over Jamie Young at his near post to seal the win.

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