Melbourne Victory made it two A-League wins from two under Tony Popovic thanks to a resounding 3-0 triumph over Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park on Sunday.

Popovic's tenure as Victory boss started with a 1-0 win at Western United last week and an own goal from Kai Trewin under pressure from Brendan Hamill had the home side up and running after 27 minutes on this occasion.

Just four minutes later that advantage was doubled with Nick D'Agostino finishing a fine team move from close range.

It was game over shortly after the restart with Ben Folami heading in Marco Rojas' delivery, meaning Victory went top of the infant A-League table and left Roar propping up the division.

Sunday's other fixture saw Western Sydney Wanderers play out a back-and-forth 2-2 draw at home to Newcastle Jets.

The visitors took the lead through Beka Mikeltadze's 19th-minute penalty but were trailing thanks to goals either side of half-time from Bernie Ibini-Isei and Tomer Hemed.

Wanderers were pegged back by Olivier Boumal in the 52nd minute, though, leaving both teams winless through two games.

Central Coast Mariners began their A-League campaign with a 2-1 win away at rivals Newcastle Jets in Sunday's double-header at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The Mariners finished third last season before failing to advance to the semi-finals in the post-season but have ended the first round of 2021-22 fixtures on top of the table.

Joshua Nisbet squeezed a low finish past Newcastle goalkeeper Jack Duncan shortly after half-time, and a second away goal soon followed through Jacob Farrell's thumping header.

Angus Thurgate's superb cross teed up substitute Valentino Yuel 12 minutes from time to set up a tense finish, but the Jets could not recover a first point of the season, slipping to a second consecutive home defeat in the F3 derby for the first time in A-League history.

The spoils were then shared between Macarthur and Wellington Phoenix in a 1-1 draw that extended the nominal away side's record unbeaten run to 12 matches.

Macarthur pipped their opponents to a Finals place by a single point last term, but they were forced to play in Newcastle due to the poor standard of their Campbelltown Stadium pitch and then trailed to Gary Hooper's penalty midway through the first half.

Lachlam Rose's 61st-minute finish beat Oliver Sail to get Macarthur back on terms, although there were grateful to Tomislav Uskok for a goal-line clearance in the closing stages.

"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."

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.

Central Coast Mariners will host Macarthur in a home A-League elimination-final next weekend after beating Western United 2-0 following Brisbane Roar's defeat to Sydney FC.

Brisbane were beaten 2-0 by second-placed Sydney in their final match of the regular season at Moreton Daily Stadium on Saturday.

Goals from Kosta Barbarouses and Harry Van der Saag opened the door for the Mariners to move above the Roar and take third place, an opportunity they grabbed with both hands.

Jack Clisby struck in the first half and Marco Urena sealed the victory in stoppage time at Central Coast Stadium.

Alen Stajcic will pit his wits against fellow former Matildas coach Ante Milicic in an all-New South Wales clash next Saturday.

The Roar will have an extra day to prepare for a home showdown with Adelaide United a week on Sunday, when a place in the semi-finals will be up for grabs.

Newcastle Jets moved off the bottom of the table courtesy of a 1-1 draw with Perth Glory, A Jonathan Aspropotamitis own goal giving them a point after Bruno Fornaroli opened the scoring.

That point moved the Jets above Melbourne Victory, while Perth remain ninth.

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.

Central Coast Mariners and Sydney both recorded slender away victories over Newcastle Jets and Western United respectively in Saturday's A-League action.

Sydney briefly moved up to second in the table after an Adam Le Fondre penalty – his first goal since returning to the club - secured them a 1-0 triumph on their visit to Mars Stadium.

Referee Shaun Evans deemed Ivan Vujica had handled inside the penalty area and pointed to the spot, the official confirming his initial decision after a lengthy VAR check.

United goalkeeper Ryan Scott had kept Sydney at bay up until that point but was unable to deny Le Fondre, who is back after a spell with Mumbai City in India.

However, Central Coast leapfrogged back over Sydney in the standings thanks to a 1-0 win of their own in the late kick-off.

A penalty settled the game at McDonald Jones Stadium too, Matt Simon on target in the 54th minute as the Mariners recorded back-to-back wins over the Jets for the first time since October 2014.

Simon has now scored nine A-League goals against Newcastle - only against Melbourne Victory (10) has he managed more in his career.

James Troisi had a hand in four goals as Western Sydney Wanderers thrashed Western United 5-0 in the A-League on Saturday.

The Australia international opened the scoring with a thumping strike into the top corner and added two assists as well as forcing an own goal from Western United substitute Dylan Pierias.

Troisi created goals for Ziggy Gordon and Bruce Kamau either side of half-time before Pierias' own goal and a last-minute effort from Bernie Ibini rounded out the scoring.

The result puts Western Sydney up to sixth in the table, just one point off second place in a tightly packed group of sides pursuing spots in the Finals.

Defending champions Sydney FC are the side sitting at the front of that pack in second position after they struggled to a 1-1 draw away at bottom club Newcastle Jets.

A penalty from Roy O'Donovan after 59 minutes gave Jets hope of a famous victory.

But they were denied by a bizarre own goal 14 minutes from time as an attempted clearance from Connor O'Toole struck the chest of Nigel Boogaard and bounced in.

Valentino Yuel missed a big late chance to recapture the lead, the result meaning Newcastle have gone 12 matches without a victory and are a point behind Melbourne Victory.

Sydney, who only got four of their 19 attempts on target, have won just one of their last six matches in the competition.

Jamie Maclaren scored a landmark goal as Melbourne City went four points clear at the top of the A-League with a clinical 3-1 win over lowly Newcastle Jets.

Captain Scott Jamieson and Maclaren, the league's leading scorer, added second-half strikes to an early own goal, before Steven Ugarkovic grabbed a late consolation for the league's bottom side.

The result means Melbourne City hold a comfortable lead over Sydney FC and Central Coast Mariners, who each have 31 points and have both played one more game than the leaders.

City edged ahead against Newcastle in the 32nd minute when Andrew Nabbout raced in from the left and shot across goal, with his strike taking a decisive deflection off Jets defender Johnny Koutroumbis on its way past goalkeeper Lewis Italiano.

Captain Jamieson scored the goal of the game and his first for the club after 59 minutes when he surged forward, coming from a deep position on the left, and curled a 20-yard strike in off the right post.

Maclaren bundled in from close range for City's third goal 10 minutes later after Nabbout won a race to the ball and centred from the right, giving the striker an easy put-away for his 20th goal of this A-League season.

Maclaren has now scored 20 or more goals in four different seasons in the A-League. No other player has reached that mark in more than two seasons since the start of 2011-12 (Besart Berisha in 2011-12 and 2016-17).

The only disappointment for the hosts was they did not manage a clean sheet. They were caught napping in the 87th minute, with Matthew Millar stealing possession in midfield and feeding Ugarkovic who finished tidily past Tom Glover.

City have now won their past six home games in the A-League, their longest winning sequence at home in the competition, scoring at least three times in five of those matches.

Western United recorded a 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets on Monday – their second triumph over the A-League strugglers in the month of April.

A Lachlan Wales goal in the first minute of proceedings had secured United a 1-0 triumph at McDonald Jones Stadium on April 5.

Wales was involved in an early opener again at AAMI Park, sending in a low cross that Newcastle captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley prodded into his own net in the 12th minute.

Dylan Pierias tapped in a second for the hosts midway through the second half, converting from close range after good work by substitute Aaron Calver down United's right flank.

The Jets had 13 attempts but managed to hit the target with just three of them. Their winless run now stands at 10 games, stretching back to a 1-0 triumph over Melbourne Victory on February 21, as they sit bottom.

As for United, they move into the top six in the table and still have games in hand on the teams above them apart from leaders Melbourne City.

Adelaide United missed the chance to go top of the A-League but at least avoided suffering defeat as they fought from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Sydney on Sunday.

It looked as though Adelaide were on their way to a second loss in four games, as Bobo rounded off a lovely move to open the scoring in the 19th minute, before doubling his tally early in the second half with a simple finish into an empty net after Kosta Barbarouses wasted a one-on-one situation.

But United pulled one back 15 minutes from time, Jordan Elsey turning in a left-wing cross, and Tomi Juric's fierce strike a few moments later restored parity.

Adelaide might have gone on to seal the win and subsequently leap above Melbourne City, who went top on Saturday with a remarkable 7-0 derby win over Melbourne Victory, but Rhyan Grant brought Craig Goodwin down as the last man to earn a straight red deep into stoppage time.

Just outside Sydney, Macarthur were held to a 2-2 draw by the Newcastle Jets, whose club-record winless streak was extended to eight games.

But just as they did last week against Perth Glory, the Jets showed character to fight back from behind, with Charles M'Mombwa and Loic Puyo putting Macarthur 2-1 up after Roy O'Donovan's penalty had initially put the visitors in front.

Steven Ugarkovic equalised just before the hour mark with a gorgeous 20-yard effort and that ultimately salvaged a point.

The day's late game was similarly entertaining and did yield a winner as Wellington Phoenix beat Glory 3-1, with all goals coming in the second half.

Ben Waine caught Glory goalkeeper Luke Reddy out of his net for the first, only for Joel Chianese to equalise two minutes later with a stunning effort, picking out the top-left corner after slaloming between a couple of defenders.

But Louis Fenton tapped in to make it 2-1 with 66 on the clock and Jaushua Sotirio - released by the lively Ulises Davila - showed great composure to seal the win and boost the Phoenix's outside chances of reaching the Finals.

Newcastle Jets finally ended their club-record A-League losing streak as a second-half penalty salvaged a 1-1 draw at home to the similarly off-colour Perth Glory.

Since a five-game unbeaten run finished at the end of February, the Jets have been stuck in a miserable rut of successive defeats.

They surrendered a one-goal lead in their 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory last time out and fans would have been forgiven for thinking the writing was on the wall when Joel Chianese scored a lovely goal for Perth just past the hour.

A gorgeous first-time pass from Bruno Fornaroli using the outside of his right foot released Andy Keogh into the left side of the box and his pass across the face of goal was turned in by Chianese.

But Roy O'Donovan smashed home from the spot soon after as Kosuke Ota tripped Apostolos Stamatelopoulos.

That was ultimately enough to seal a point, but the Jets will surely feel they could have snatched victory at the end, with Matthew Millar blazing over from a fairly tight angle deep into stoppage time.

The draw does neither side much good, with Newcastle staying 11th on 12 points and Perth one place and six points better off.

Lleyton Brooks scored his first A-League goal as Melbourne Victory ended their winless streak with a 2-1 comeback triumph over Newcastle Jets.

Brooks came on from the bench on the hour to make his third A-League appearance and it was the 20-year-old who proved decisive when he lashed home in the 79th minute.

Apostolos Stamatelopoulos put fellow strugglers Newcastle ahead, but Dylan Ryan restored parity early in the second half.

The win, after a run of six without one, lifts 12th-placed Victory onto 11 points, level with the Jets, though Melbourne have a game in hand.

Meanwhile, Victory's rivals Melbourne City forged a comeback of their own, with Jamie Maclaren's 98th-minute penalty sealing a share of the spoils against Sydney FC.

Sydney looked set to leapfrog City and move into second thanks to Kosta Barbarouses' 54th-minute opener.

Yet A-League's leading scorer Maclaren had other ideas. Sydney captain Alex Wilkinson fouled Marco Tilio, playing against his former side, and City's marksman stepped up to convert from 12 yards.

Maclaren is now on 14 A-League goals for the season and 93 outright in the competition, taking the 27-year-old into second place on the all-time top scorers list, behind only Besart Berisha (141).

City could have snatched a win moments later, but Stefan Colakovski's effort was kept out by Andrew Redmayne.

In Saturday's late game, Adelaide United failed to return to winning ways as they were held to a 1-1 draw by the 10 men of Western Sydney Wanderers.

Melbourne City left it late to overcome Wellington Phoenix 3-2 and climb into second place, while an early Lachlan Wales strike saw Western United down Newcastle Jets 1-0 in Monday's other A-League match.

City's six-match winning run was halted by Western United last time out, but they hit back at WIN Stadium to move to within two points of leaders Central Coast Mariners with a game in hand.

Tomer Hemed equalised for Phoenix after Curtis Good had headed City in front from six yards, but Jamie Maclaren restored the visitors' lead with a powerful strike across Oliver Sail.

Wellington equalised for a second time before the hour through skipper Ulises Davila, who curled a delightful low shot into the bottom-left corner from 20 yards – the seventh goal they have scored from outside the box in the 2020-21 A-League season.

But Melbourne went away with the three points in Wollongong thanks to substitute Marco Tilio's late header following some good link-up play out on the right to make space for Connor Metcalfe's cross.

It was an early goal that proved the difference in Monday's early kick-off between Jets and Western United, with winger Wales slotting Dylan Pierias' throughball into the bottom-left corner after just 36 seconds to make it goals in back-to-back games.

That was the first goal the visitors had scored in this fixture at the fourth attempt and was the earliest they have netted in their A-League history, putting them on course for a maiden victory against the Jets.

Craig Deans' side attempted 20 shots in the remainder of the game, but just two of those were on target as they fell to a sixth loss in a row to remain second bottom of the division, while United are up to seventh with games in hand on the top six.

Perth Glory held on with 10 men for the majority of the game to beat Newcastle Jets 2-1 and bring an end to their winless A-League run.

Richard Garcia's side had lost three and drawn two of their previous five games but raced two goals ahead at HBF Park inside 24 minutes.

Ciaran Bramwell marked his second start for Glory with his maiden goal, the 19-year-old placing a shot away from Lewis Italiano after Osama Malik smartly dummied Bruno Fornaroli's centre.

The hosts added a second soon after as Darryl Lachman headed Neil Kilkenny's corner ​down and ​away from Italiano for his own first goal for the club.

Glory have dropped 10 points from winning positions in 2020-21, the most of any team in the division, and they gave the Jets a lifeline when Jonathan Aspropotamitis was sent off for a challenge on Ramy Najjarine 10 minutes before half-time.

Roy O'Donovan gave Glory a scare when hitting the crossbar and went one better by flicking in Nikolai Topor-Stanley's cross with a sublime volleyed finished on the hour mark.

Further chances fell the way of O'Donovan, including a sweeping shot that just missed the far post, but the Jets could not find a leveller and have now lost five A-League games in a row.

Saturday's other A-League match saw bottom side Melbourne Victory hold table-topping Central Coast Mariners to a 1-1 draw.

Victory had lost their past four matches, conceding 17 goals in the process, but they took the lead at Central Coast Stadium through Callum McManaman's 20th-minute strike.

The former Wigan Athletic midfielder brought down a quickly taken free-kick, knocked the ball past Kye Rowles and slotted past Mark Birighitti into the far-left corner.

But the Mariners have gained more points from losing positions than any other A-League team this season and were on level terms with half an hour played through Marcos Urena's close-range finish following some fine wing play from Daniel Bouman.

Oliver Bozanic and Elvis Kamsoba went closest to snatching a winner for their respective sides, but the second half ended goalless, opening the door for Melbourne City to potentially overtake the Mariners at the summit next week.

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