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A-League wrap: Wanderers close in on Mariners

Western Sydney Wanderers closed the gap to A-League leaders Central Coast to just one point with a 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory on Saturday.

Western Sydney Wanderers closed the gap to A-League leaders Central Coast to just one point with a 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory on Saturday.

Iacopo La Rocca and Shinji Ono scored in the first and second half respectively for the Wanderers, with Connor Pain’s well-taken goal arriving too late for Victory to find a way back into the match.

Wanderers have now won six matches in succession, and they look to be genuine title contenders in their inaugural season with finals fast approaching.

Tony Popovic’s side, second on the table, are now five points ahead of third-placed Victory.

More significantly, the Wanderers are now breathing down the neck of the Mariners, who fell to a 2-1 loss away to Perth Glory.

The Mariners scored first via Bernie Ibini, however Travis Dodd and Shane Smeltz were both on target to ensure Graham Arnold and his men only held a one-point advantage over the Wanderers.

It was a top-versus-bottom clash at nib Stadium, and it was going to script when Ibini made the most of Steven McGarry’s poor awareness in possession to tuck home the opening goal.

But their lead would last only 14 minutes, as Perth midfielder Nicky Ward found Dodd with a well-weighted pass, and the former Adelaide man equalised via his left boot.

The comeback was complete when Smeltz got on the end of Josh Risdon’s cross in the 65th minute, and although keeper Mat Ryan got a hand on the shot, the New Zealand international’s header had too much power on it.

The win took Perth into eighth spot on the table, although the two sides they leaped above – Wellington and Brisbane – are still to play one another on Sunday.

Earlier, Sydney FC consolidated their standing in the A-League’s top six with a 2-1 victory over Adelaide United.

Goals to youngster Terry Antonis – his first in the A-League – and striker Blake Powell had the Sky Blues cruising before Adelaide debutant Tomi Juric ensured a grandstand finish.

But despite living dangerously at times late in the match, the home side hung on for a well-deserved victory in front of a crowd of more than 15,000.

Sydney have moved above both Melbourne Heart and Newcastle into fifth spot to improve their hopes of securing a finals berth with six matches of the regular season remaining.

Sat 16 February, 2013
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