Dylan Ruiz-Diaz's first A-League goals condemned Melbourne Victory to a club-record fifth successive loss as Central Coast Mariners claimed a late 3-2 triumph, ending a lengthy winless run of their own.

Rock-bottom Mariners looked set to conclude their A-League season with a sequence of 13 matches without a victory, but 19-year-old substitute Ruiz-Diaz turned things around in the final five minutes to earn them a first win since January 12, when they also beat Monday's opponents 3-2.

Marco Rojas' brace either side of Dylan Fox's effort early in the second half had Victory in charge, but Ruiz-Diaz – brought on just before the hour-mark – levelled in the 85th minute with an emphatic finish.

He then clinched the three points four minutes later, slotting in after latching onto Milan Djuric's throughball to end the Mariners' winless streak and inflict an unwanted club record on second-bottom Victory.

A late Simon Cox goal secured a 1-1 draw for Western Sydney Wanderers at Central Coast Mariners that could prove to be important in the A-League top-six battle.

The Wanderers looked to be heading for defeat in their first match since the competition restarted after Milan Djuric struck just before the hour mark at Central Coast Stadium.

Duric had earlier seen a long-range effort hit the crossbar and Mohamed Adam slammed a shot off the woodwork in an even contest, but the Bosnia-Herzegovina international made no mistake from Matt Simon's cut-back.

The Mariners looked to be heading for a first win in 13 until Cox glanced in Mitchell Duke's cross with two minutes of normal time remaining.

The Wanderers are four points outside the top six, with a game in hand on sixth-place Adelaide United, while the Mariners are certain to finish bottom for the fourth time in the past five seasons.

Central Coast Mariners ended their record-equalling run of A-League defeats with a goalless draw that did damage to opponents Newcastle Jets' Finals hopes.

The Mariners had lost 11 games in succession - matching New Zealand Knights' 2005 slump - to sit bottom of the ladder, yet they kept rivals Newcastle at bay at home on Friday.

After wins either side of the league's lockdown boosted hopes of a top-six finish, the Jets flattered to deceive in a poor game of few chances.

Not until the 81st minute was Central Coast goalkeeper and captain Mark Birighitti seriously tested, but he was equal to Kosta Petratos' close-range finish with a fine save.

The stalemate leaves Newcastle two points shy of sixth-placed Adelaide United having played two matches more.

Dane Ingham struck the only goal of the game as Perth Glory returned to winning ways in a 1-0 triumph over Central Coast Mariners.

Glory had failed to win in their previous four A-League matches prior to the competition's enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In their first match back, and without the influential Diego Castro, Ingham brilliantly cut in from the left and lashed in a right-footed shot into the far corner after receiving Neil Kilkenny's pass in the 32nd minute.

The Mariners probed valiantly for an equaliser in the final 20 minutes but have now lost 11 straight games and remain bottom of the table, while Glory are fifth.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) released the schedule for the remaining matches of the coronavirus-hit A-League season, with a bonanza of 27 games in 28 matches before a quick-fire finals series.

The 2019-20 A-League campaign has been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 crisis, but Australia's premier football competition is set to restart on July 16 followed by a five-game finals series – the Grand Final to take place on August 23.

A derby between Melbourne Victory and Western United – originally scheduled for AAMI Park in Melbourne – will be played at a stadium still to be determined due to a spike in coronavirus cases in the state.

Six venues will be used in New South Wales and Queensland with the potential for more to be added subject to government regulations – ANZ Stadium (NSW), Bankwest Stadium (NSW), Central Coast Stadium (NSW), McDonald Jones Stadium (NSW), Jubilee Stadium (NSW) and Cbus Stadium (QLD).

"Over the past three months all stakeholders have been working hard together with one goal in mind – To finish what we started," FFA's Head of Leagues Greg O'Rourke said on Wednesday.

"We know the COVID-19 environment has been very difficult for many people in our community and we hope that delivering an extravaganza of matches will allow our fans to basically see a game everyday will be a unique experience for those who have stood by us.

"As we are a truly national game, the current border controls means that some of the match day venues may need to change, however we have secured venues in both a NSW Hub model and a hybrid hub model which has most games in NSW but allows for a few games in other states.

"Whilst we don't see the draw changing, the planning we have undertaken provides us with agility to shift between certain states if required. This version of the draw displays our current venue plan.

"We will continue to work with the Federal and State governments to ensure the health and safety of our players, coaches and other stakeholders and have detailed and practical protocols in place for all parties involved in training and match days.

"I am excited to see us kick off the restart and ultimately finish off what we started last October, with our priority always being to be in a position to crown our Hyundai A-League premiers and champions for this season."

Defending champions Sydney FC top the table by eight points through 20 matches, though second-placed Melbourne City have played three games less.

Sydney FC were never going to be stopped in the race for the A-League Premiers' Plate, but one club joined them in red-hot form late in the regular season.

The campaign was suspended last month due to the coronavirus pandemic with the Sky Blues on track to win a record fourth premiership.

Steve Corica's men were eight points clear and had three games in hand when the season was stopped.

Using Opta data, we predict the rest of the A-League regular season and while Sydney FC were unstoppable, one other club hit fine form.

 

SYDNEY MATCH POINTS RECORD

The Sky Blues' dominance continued late in the regular season.

Sydney went on to win each of their final six games and 21 of 26 to end up 17 points clear atop the table.

Only one team matched such a run late in the season – and they went on to finish second, a position that was held by Melbourne City when the campaign was suspended.

Sydney also matched their record points haul from 2016-17 with 66 points, despite playing one fewer game.

GLORIOUS PERTH PURR

Perth Glory, third when the season was stopped, also grabbed six wins from six to charge into second place.

With four of their last six at home and their two trips being to Western Sydney Wanderers and Adelaide United, Perth found form to secure a home Semi-Final.

Sydney and Perth also finished as the top two last season before going on to meet in the Grand Final.

 

FOWLER'S ROAR, WESTERN UNITED IN FINALS AS VICTORY LEAVE RUN LATE

Under Robbie Fowler, Brisbane Roar managed just three points from their final four games, but even that was enough to finish fifth.

Meanwhile, in their maiden A-League season, Western United clinched the last finals spot, finishing four points clear in sixth.

Struggling in 10th when the campaign was stopped, Melbourne Victory charged but fell short.

They grabbed 12 points from their last five games but it was only enough to finish seventh, missing the finals for the first time since 2011-12.

 

A-League table at end of regular season
1. Sydney FC – 66
2. Perth Glory – 49
3. Melbourne City – 43
4. Wellington Phoenix – 42
5. Brisbane Roar – 38
6. Western United – 36

7. Melbourne Victory – 32
8. Western Sydney Wanderers – 32
9. Newcastle Jets – 30
10. Adelaide United – 27
11. Central Coast Mariners – 13

The Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has demanded Central Coast Mariners immediately reinstate players after they were issued with stand-down notices amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the PFA threatened to initiate legal proceedings against Perth Glory owner Tony Sage following his decision to stand down players, with the A-League season on hiatus due to COVID-19.

The Mariners also issued stand-down notices as the league's postponement impacts clubs financially, prompting the PFA to serve Central Coast owner Mike Charlesworth with a letter of demand.

"These actions undermine attempts for our game to overcome common challenges, fight for common interests and re-establish our sport," PFA chief executive John Didulica said in a statement on Tuesday.

"While other codes have fostered unity and demonstrated leadership amid crisis, we are at risk of regressing to the lowest common denominator.

"FFA has indicated an intention to intervene as this matter escalates. 

"This morning, we have written to FFA to ask they follow the lead of other sporting codes in this country and lead a collective and uniform solution to our common challenge."

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has already stood down approximately 70 per cent of its staff in a bid to save money amid the coronavirus crisis.

Coronavirus has claimed more than 37,500 lives globally, with over 781,800 confirmed cases.

In Australia, there have been at least 18 deaths and more than 4,350 cases.

 

Jamie Maclaren was the hat-trick hero as Melbourne City piled further misery on the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League with a 4-2 triumph.

The Mariners went down to a 10th consecutive defeat despite Jordan Murray catching the City backline napping to give them a second-minute lead.

The hosts' joy was short-lived as Maclaren arrowed a swift response across Central Coast goalkeeper Mark Birighitti and Markel Susaeta headed City in front inside 10 minutes.

Maclaren crowned a wonderful team move three minutes into the second half before claiming the matchball when Nathaniel Atkinson's blocked shot spun in his direction – a goal that restored City's two-goal advantage after a towering header earned Murray his second of the match.

City, who were playing without Erick Mombaerts - their 64-year-old head coach who stayed home as a precaution against contracting coronavirus, are seven points behind Sydney FC in second but have played three games more than the leaders.

Brisbane Roar are five points further back in fourth after Scott McDonald's splendid 16th-minute finish proved enough to see off Newcastle Jets 1-0.

It meant a first defeat as Jets boss for Carl Robinson – a fate that was almost averted in stoppage time when Roy O'Donovan volleyed Dimitrios Petratos' searching cross from the left against the post.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to leave little in the way of live action on the sporting calendar.

Most events have been put on hold or cancelled across the world due to the spread of COVID-19.

There are still some competitions going ahead on Friday, though, and here are five of the best to look forward to.


Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne City - A-League

Australia's top football division continues, albeit with a reduced schedule and games being staged behind closed doors - including both of Friday's matches.

The Mariners will be out to avoid unwanted club history as they host Melbourne City. Alen Stajcic's team are on a nine-match losing run, just one short of their previous worst streak of 10 in a row.

 

Dundalk - horse racing

Horse racing has been suspended in the United Kingdom until the end of April, but Horse Racing Ireland has opted to carry on racing after implementing stringent controls.

Friday's sole meeting will take place at Dundalk, where Cautious Approach, Juliet Rose and Sebs Star are all in action.

Cage Warriors 113 - MMA

Friday's blockbuster will now be held in Manchester after moving from London and is another event being held without spectators in attendance.

Darren Stewart and Bartosz Fabinski meet in the headline fight, while Mason Jones and Joe McColgan will battle it out for the vacant lightweight title.

Brisbane Broncos v South Sydney Rabbitohs - NRL

The NRL has introduced a self-isolation programme for its players in a desperate attempt to keep games on.

And that means plenty of focus will be on the grudge match between the Broncos and the Rabbitohs, who will both be looking to maintain winning starts to the season.

 

Western Bulldogs v Collingwood - AFL

Aussie Rules football got under way at an empty MCG on Thursday and the action continues with Western Bulldogs taking on Collingwood Magpies.

The Magpies begin their assault for a record-equalling 16th title - and a first in a decade - against their Melbourne rivals at Docklands Stadium.

Scott McDonald's close-range effort during first-half stoppage time proved the difference as Brisbane Roar claimed a 1-0 A-League win over Central Coast Mariners at Suncorp Stadium.

Bottom club Central Coast belied a run of consecutive losses that now stands at nine with an enterprising start to the contest, with Jordan Murray putting their best chance over the bar when under close attention from Aiden O'Neill.

The Roar grew into the contest and McDonald edged them ahead thanks to a VAR review, which showed Brad Inman had been incorrectly flagged offside when supplying the assist.

Robbie Fowler's Final Series aspirants move up to fourth in the table, two points above Perth Glory having played two games more.

Melbourne City held off a second-half fightback from Perth Glory as Wellington Phoenix heaped further misery on Central Coast Mariners in Sunday's A-League action.

Rostyn Griffiths, Florin Berenguer and Markel Susaeta all scored in a scintillating 10-minute spell in the first half for Melbourne, putting them 3-0 up at HBF Park.

However, Perth – who lost in the Grand Final to Sydney FC last season – rallied after the break.

Joel Chianese tucked home a rebound to make it 3-1 and the deficit was down to one after 65 minutes when he squared the ball across for Bruno Fornaroli to tap home.

Diego Castro hit the post as the hosts pushed hard for an equaliser, yet Melbourne survived to win 3-2 and remain the closest challengers to Sydney, though they are 10 points behind the runaway leaders.

Wellington Phoenix had briefly moved above Melbourne City into second place in the table courtesy of a 3-1 triumph at bottom club Central Coast Mariners.

Liberato Cacace marked his 50th game in the competition with the opening goal and Gary Hooper clinically converted a one-on-one opportunity to double Wellington's lead.

Jaushua Sotirio added a third when his run in behind was picked out by fellow substitute Alex Rufer's pass over the top.

The Mariners had 16 attempts at goal but only managed to hit the target three times. They did grab a late consolation, Jair scoring in the 89th minute, but have now lost eight on the spin.

Western United thrashed Central Coast Mariners 6-2 on Sunday to give their A-League top-six ambitions a boost.

Max Burgess scored a 19-minute hat-trick during a spectacular first half at GMHBA Stadium in which six goals were scored.

Besart Berisha's header broke the deadlock after nine minutes, but Chris Harold's penalty levelled matters after Tomislav Uskok had handled in the box.

Burgess struck his first goal to restore United's lead and got his second five minutes later after being set up by Connor Pain.

After Berisha saw an effort blocked, Burgess - who had never scored in 44 previous A-League appearances - completed his hat-trick, but Gianni Stensness made it 4-2 shortly before the break.

Andrew Durante turned in Alessandro Diamanti's cross for 5-2, before Berisha converted from close range in the 89th minute for his 20th goal against Central Coast - an A-League record for a player against a single club.

In the later game at AAMI Park, Melbourne City moved back into second place with a battling 1-0 win over Brisbane Roar.

The visitors were undone when Joshua Brillante's fine strike hit the post and went in off goalkeeper Jamie Young 10 minutes into the second half.

Melbourne are three points above third-place Perth Glory, having played a game more, while Brisbane sit sixth, just two points ahead of United.

Mohamed Toure became the youngest goalscorer in A-League history as the 15-year-old wrapped up a 2-0 win for Adelaide United against Central Coast Mariners.

Toure this week signed a three-year scholarship contract with Adelaide and showed he could have a big future with a lively appearance off the bench.

His goal owed plenty to stellar work from team-mate Riley McGree, who burst from midfield and dashed down the left before delivering a low cross to the teenage striker.

Toure cracked the ball high into the net for his 84th-minute strike, having only come on seven minutes earlier, and tore off his shirt as he sprinted away in celebration.

That strike followed swiftly on from George Blackwood's excellent opener, and stole much of that goal's thunder.

Blackwood's 22-yard strike in the 82nd minute was sublime though, the striker collecting a short pass from McGree and curling a shot into the top right corner.

He celebrated by holding up the number 16 shirt of team-mate Nathan Konstandopoulos, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week.

Long after the final whistle, history-maker Toure was signing autographs and posing for pictures with young supporters.

He revealed what coach Gertjan Verbeek told him as he prepared to enter the action, saying: "He said, 'Come on, do your thing down the wing to get us a goal', and I think I tried my best to get the team 2-0 up."

The youngster's brother Al Hassan Toure is also an Adelaide player, although the 19-year-old missed Friday's game due to injury.

Al Hassan said of his younger brother: "We always knew he had it in him. Our dad has taught us well, always to have a strong mind and play how you want and not how they've been brought up to play in Australia. He's been telling us to play how we feel and that's how we've been doing.

"I told him [Mohamed] to keep a cool head because football is ups and downs, you might be up one day and then you're down, and you always have to learn from your experiences. But he's shown that he can play in this league and he's good enough. A couple more years of experience and he'll be a good player."

McGree, speaking on Fox Sports, said of Toure: "He's young, he's eager, he's keen, he's confident, and that's great to see."

The Newcastle Jets boosted their slim A-League finals chances with a thrilling 4-3 F3 derby win over the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League on Sunday.

Dimitri Petratos' double lifted the Jets to a deserved win in wet conditions at McDonald Jones Stadium.

With Carl Robinson, who will take over as Jets head coach on Monday, watching on from the stands, Newcastle recorded just their third victory of the A-League season.

They remain bottom of the table with 10 regular-season games remaining, but are now nine points behind sixth-placed Brisbane Roar, who hold the last finals place.

Petratos' powerful finish put them ahead before the attacker's corner found Nikolai Topor-Stanley unmarked at the back post to make it 2-0.

However, Central Coast found a way back into the contest from two set-pieces either side of half-time as Ruon Tongyik and Jack Clisby headed home.

Another well-taken finish from Petratos restored the Jets' lead before a Kim Eun-sun own goal and they survived late on despite Chris Harold's fine strike on debut for the Mariners.

The Jets ended a two-game winless run against the Mariners and the victory was their sixth in the past eight meetings between the clubs.

Simon Cox shone on debut as Western Sydney Wanderers began a new era with a 3-1 win over Central Coast Mariners on Sunday.

In their first A-League fixture since sacking Markus Babbel, the Wanderers were indebted to debutant Cox for helping to see off a resilient Central Coast in Gosford.

The former Nottingham Forest striker appeared off the bench in the 58th minute with the visitors leading 1-0 through Nicolai Muller's composed finish late in the first half.

Cox needed just over 15 minutes to make an impact, drawing a penalty that Mitchell Duke converted to double the margin.

Matt Simon threatened to derail Jean-Paul de Marigny's first match as Western Sydney caretaker coach by winning and dispatching a spot-kick at the other end, but the man of the moment had other ideas.

Mohamed Adam and German winger Muller combined on the counter-attack in stoppage time to tee up 32-year-old Cox for a straightforward tap-in, his maiden A-League goal securing Western Sydney their fifth win of the campaign and a much-needed confidence boost.

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