The A-League 2010/11 regular season is now over and what a season it has been!
Brisbane Roar have set, and are still carrying, a league record for most matches unbeaten as they cruised to the Premier's Plate, holding firm favouritism for the Championship.
They confirmed their authority over the rest of the league when they produced a brilliant 4-0 win over fourth-placed Gold Coast United on Saturday night before unveiling their new silverware to over 20,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
Once again this fixture provided us with a bit of everything with the Reds saluting 2-1 before a crowd of 21,083 thanks to a late header from captain Travis Dodd. Paul Reid opened the scoring with a sixth-minute free-kick which evaded everybody before Archie Thompson returned to grab an equaliser in the 65th minute, with the assist coming from old strike partner Danny Allsopp.
But Dodd was on hand to stitch up third spot for his club who will now meet Wellington Phoenix on their first final.
On Saturday, new club Melbourne Heart said goodbye to three of their more experienced players but had to settle for a 2-2 draw with Sydney FC.
Midfielder Josip Skoko, striker John Aloisi and Dutchman Gerald Sibon all played their last match in the A-League and all had differing fortunes throughout their final 90 minutes. Skoko was at his best in the centre of the pitch whilst Aloisi scored what appeared to be the winner before Nick Carle interrupted the celebrations with a late goal to tie it up.
However, Sibon will not look back at his final Heart game with too much fondness after receiving two yellow cards, albeit soft ones, to be sent off just before half-time.
Sunday saw Wellington Phoenix secure their playoffs spot with a 3-1 win over North Queensland Fury, who face an uncertain future, with goalkeeper Danny Vukovic scoring from the penalty spot whilst second-placed Central Coast Mariners needed a full 90 minutes to get the points over Newcastle Jets, who finished seventh, in the F3 derby - Patricio Perez's late goal separating the sides.
Adelaide United:2 (Paul REID 6', Travis DODD 78') Melbourne Victory: 1 (Archie THOMPSON 65') Friday, 11 February 2011 Adelaide Oval, Adelaide Referee: Ryan Shepheard Crowd: 21,083 Yellow cards:AU - Dario BODRUSIC 61', Nigel BOOGAARD 65', Marcos FLORES 87' MV - Robbie KRUSE 69'
Melbourne Heart: 2 (Rutger WORM 41', John ALOISI 62') Sydney FC: 2 (Nick CARLE 35' (pen)/88') Saturday, 12 February 2011 AAMI Stadium, Melbourne Referee:Ben WilliamsCrowd: 6,019 Yellow cards:MH - Wayne SRHOJ 20', Gerald SIBON 29'/45', Josip SKOKO 34', John ALOISI 62' SYD - Terry MCFLYNN 45'+1 Red card:MH - Gerald SIBON 45'
Brisbane Roar:4 (Kosta BARBAROUSES 3', Erik PAARTALU 42', HENRIQUE 65', Thomas BROICH 85') Gold Coast United: 0 Saturday, 12 February 2011 Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Referee: Peter Green Crowd: 20,831 Yellow cards:BR - nil GCU - Steve PANTELIDIS 36', Zenon CARAVELLA 55', Michael THWAITE 87'
Wellington Phoenix:3 (Chris GREENACRE 7', Dylan MACALLISTER 11', Danny VUKOVIC 90'+3 (pen)) North Queensland Fury: 1 (Brett STUDMAN 66') Sunday, 13 February 2011 Westpac Stadium, Wellington Referee: Peter O'Leary Crowd: 12,700 Yellow cards:WP - Tony LOCHHEAD 75' NQF - Jack HINGERT 54', Jason SPAGNUOLO 80', Alex READ 87' Red card:NQF - Brett STUDMAN 90'+3
Central Coast Mariners:1 (Patricio PEREZ 89') Newcastle Jets: 0 Sunday, 13 February 2011 Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Referee: Chris Beath Crowd: 9,975 Yellow cards:CCM - John HUTCHINSON 61' NJ - Adam D'APUZZO 25', Mario SIMIC 71', Jacob PEPPER 90'+2