The race for sixth in the Hyundai A-League


With four rounds to go in the Hyundai A-League 2016/17 Season, the top six picture is starting to become clearer.

Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City are now assured of their spots in the finals series, with Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory all but certain to join them.

But who will snare sixth spot?

Hyundai A-League Team of the Week: Round 23

We take a look at the remaining fixtures for all the contenders to see who’s in the box seat to secure that final position and play finals football.

Western Sydney Wanderers (6th) – Points 28, GD -5

To Play: City (home), Jets (away), Victory (home), Adelaide (away)

Tony Popovic’s side took a giant leap towards finals football, winning their “six-pointer” against fellow top-six contenders Wellington Phoenix. The fact the victory – their first at Spotless Stadium this season – came off the back of a hard-fought 3-2 midweek ACL win away at FC Seoul and an arduous travel schedule made it all the more impressive.

The Wanderers celebrate one of Brendon Santalab's two goals against the Phoenix on Sunday.

The momentum and confidence gained from back-to-back wins will stand them in good stead ahead of a testing run-in, which includes clashes with both Melbourne sides.

Regardless, the Wanderers are certainly in the box seat to claim sixth spot now. 

Wellington Phoenix (7th) – Points 23, GD -12

To Play: Jets (home), Victory (away), Sydney (home), Roar (away)

The 3-1 loss to Western Sydney was a body-blow for Wellington, who now face the prospect of probably having to win three (and maybe all four) of their remaining matches, while hoping Western Sydney slip up in the home strait.

To make matters worse, Des Buckingham will lose seven players, including skipper Andrew Durante and top-scorer Roy Krishna, for Sunday’s do-or-die clash with Newcastle at Westpac Stadium.

Roy Krishna

The Phoenix remain defiant, but will need to bounce back quickly from a demoralising defeat during which they were very much second-best.

Newcastle Jets (8th) – Points 22, GD -13

To Play: Phoenix (away), Wanderers (home), Mariners (away), Sydney (away)

Much like Wellington, the Jets failed to deliver in a pivotal game, losing 4-0 to Melbourne City on Saturday evening.

In their favour though is a fortnight during which they’ll face an under-strength Phoenix side and the Wanderers, who they’ll ultimately need to supplant to make the finals series.

#NEWvBRI - Newcastle Jets are undefeated in their last six home Hyundai A-League games (W2, D4).

But before they can contemplate hosting Western Sydney, Mark Jones’ side simply must collect all three points away at Wellington on Sunday if they’re to have any chance of finals football for the first time in seven years.

Central Coast Mariners (9th) – Points 20, GD -17

To Play: Adelaide (home), Roar (away), Jets (home), Victory (away)

Having been buoyed by three straight wins in rounds 17 to 19, the Mariners’ finals push has stalled with just a solitary point in four games since and back-to-back losses to Melbourne City and Sydney FC in their last two matches.

The Mariners will need to win their remaining four games and hope the Wanderers (and the other sides above them) suffer a dramatic dip in form if they’re to sneak into the top six.

Mariners skipper Nick Montgomery tries to intercept a pass from Brandon O'Neill.

Making the task even more difficult for Paul Okon’s side is their run-in, which includes tough trips to Brisbane and Melbourne Victory.