Wellington Phoenix's hopes of advancing directly to the A-League semi-finals were dashed by a 3-0 loss to Newcastle Jets on Thursday.

The Phoenix's failure to win their final game of the regular season means they will go into the elimination finals, with Melbourne City guaranteed to finish second.

Wellington dominated the first half but were unable to find a way past the Jets' debutant goalkeeper Noah James, and Nick Fitzgerald's deflected shot gave Newcastle the lead against the run of play on the stroke of half-time.

Stefan Marinovic made a couple of good saves before substitute Bernie Ibini drilled into the bottom-right corner following a swift Jets break in the 76th minute.

Wellington were unfortunate not to get a penalty when Callan Elliot went down under pressure from Connor O'Toole, and Newcastle had their second goal in three minutes when Jason Hoffman slammed Dimitri Petratos' backheel in off the underside of the bar.

The Jets consequently finish the season with a five-game unbeaten run, which included victories over each of the top three, while Ufuk Talay's Phoenix head into the Finals winless in four.

Scott McDonald continued his hot streak in front of goal, but another former Celtic man ensured Wellington Phoenix emerged from their A-League encounter against Brisbane Roar with a 1-1 draw.

McDonald turned into space on the edge of the Wellington box in the 61st minute to fire home to score his sixth goal in as many matches.

Gary Hooper missed a glorious chance to equalise from close range with the goal at his mercy but made amends inside the final 10 minutes when Liberato Cacace's header came back off the post.

The Phoenix remain a place and two points ahead of Brisbane in third with one game of the regular season remaining.

Western Sydney Wanderers moved back to within four points of the A-League top six with a 1-0 victory over Wellington Phoenix on Friday.

A header from Kwame Yeboah with 17 minutes of normal time left secured all three points at Bankwest Stadium after Luke DeVere had earlier been sent off.

Phoenix, already assured of a Finals place, were hoping to consolidate second spot but only mustered one shot on target throughout the contest, although they were cursing their luck early on when David Ball's effort struck both posts but did not cross the line.

The first half was overshadowed by a serious injury suffered by Nicolai Muller, who is expected to have concussion after a clash of heads with Louis Fenton.

Momentum swung the Wanderers' way when DeVere was given a second yellow card for tripping Yeboah, and it was the man who came on for Muller who proved the matchwinner, heading home Tate Russell's cross.

Wanderers are four points behind sixth-place Adelaide United, with a game in hand, although Western United are level on 30 points after playing two games fewer.

Wellington Phoenix saw their Premiers' Plate hopes ended by a 1-1 draw at home to Adelaide United on Saturday.

Sydney FC cannot now be caught at the top of the regular-season standings after a late missed penalty from Ulises Davila proved costly.

Kristian Opseth powered home a header on the hour mark to put the visitors ahead at Bankwest Stadium, but Jaushua Sotirio levelled five minutes later.

Adelaide keeper Paul Izzo made three fine saves to keep Wellington at bay, although arguably the most comfortable of those was from Davila's tame penalty with three minutes to go.

The result means Wellington are 11 points behind Sydney, having played a game more, while Adelaide remain in the top six despite Western United's 2-1 win at Melbourne Victory.

A fine half-volley from Tomislav Uskok and a powerful strike from the excellent Max Burgess put United ahead, with a looping, glancing header from Storm Roux proving scant consolation.

Gary Hooper continued his good form in front of goal and Ulises Davila added a second-half penalty as Wellington Phoenix returned to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Perth Glory at Bankwest Stadium.

The Phoenix marked their return to action following the coronavirus-enforced hiatus with a 3-1 loss to Sydney FC, but Hooper put them on course for a fifth win in six games when taking Callum McCowatt's pass in his stride and slotting home after 32 minutes.

Hooper's fifth goal in his past seven matches was added to by Davila, who converted from the penalty spot three minutes into the second half following Jacob Tratt's sloppy challenge on David Ball.

Perth could have overtaken their opponents with a win and they pulled one back through Dane Ingham's curled finish from range with half an hour to go, but Ufuk Talay's side withstood some late pressure to move to within a point of second with a game in hand.

Trent Buhagiar grabbed a late double as Sydney FC came from behind to beat Wellington Phoenix 3-1 and move to the brink of clinching top spot in the A-League.

In the first match played in the league since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Wellington threatened to upset the runaway leaders when Reno Piscopo fired home a penalty in the 66th minute.

However, Sydney levelled, also from a spot-kick, as Adam Le Fondre netted 10 minutes later.

Although the game then looked destined to finish all square, substitute Buhagiar came good in the closing stages.

He went beyond goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic and slotted in after Milos Ninkovic's pass to make it 2-1 to Sydney in the 88th minute, before firing home two minutes later to make certain of the win.

Sydney require one point from their final five regular-season games to be confirmed as winners of the Premiers' Plate, ahead of the Finals series in August.

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.

Wellington Phoenix have been cleared to travel to Australia to complete the 2019-20 A-League season.

The A-League campaign is set to restart on July 16, having been suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wellington will travel to New South Wales on Saturday to complete the season, while Ulises Davila and Gary Hooper will meet the squad in Australia after travelling from Mexico and the United Kingdom respectively.

In further good news for the Phoenix, they will be able to train for the first two weeks in a "full isolation environment".

"It's huge for us to see that the season can resume. This is the best outcome for the fans, sponsors, players and everyone involved in football across Australia and New Zealand," Phoenix general manager David Dome said.

"We are extremely grateful to FFA, especially head of leagues Greg O'Rourke, New South Wales border control and New South Wales Department of Health authorities for all their efforts in gaining the club entry into Australia."

Dome added: "Plaudits have to go to our players for their commitment to finishing out the season – they feel they have unfinished business and they can't wait to go over there and rediscover that momentum we had back in March.

"With a full-strength, committed squad and the backing of New Zealand behind us, there's no reason we can't secure a top-three finish – and potentially a home semi-final in Wellington for the fans. That's our goal and our supporters deserve nothing less."

Sitting third in the table with six regular-season games to play, Wellington will face leaders Sydney FC on July 17.

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 Wellington Phoenix staff member who tested positive for coronavirus has been cleared.

The A-League club announced last month that a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19.

Wellington said on Wednesday the person had recovered and been cleared to return to their family.

"The Wellington Phoenix advises that a member of its staff who tested positive for COVID-19 last month has now fully recovered and been reunited with their family," a club statement read.

"The person was tested following their return to New Zealand as a precaution after showing minor symptoms. Following strict Ministry of Health advice, they immediately quarantined themselves from the public and their bubble."

New Zealand has reported more than 1,200 cases of coronavirus, including one death.

The A-League season was suspended last month with the Phoenix sitting third.

The Wellington Phoenix confirmed a member of their football operations staff had tested positive for coronavirus.

The positive test comes on the same day the Newcastle Jets confirmed one of their players had contracted COVID-19.

In a statement on Saturday, the A-League club said: "The Wellington Phoenix advise that a member of the club's football operations staff has tested positive for COVID-19.

"The club is cooperating fully with all the relevant health authorities and is focused on supporting staff, as well as ensuring that all government protocols are being closely adhered to.

"As per Ministry of Health instructions, all players and staff who had direct contact with the staff member are being monitored for possible signs of infection – any person showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will immediately be tested.

"The club will continue to monitor the situation closely and won't be making any further statement at this time."

The Phoenix had committed to staying in Australia in a bid to try to finish the A-League season, which was eventually suspended on Tuesday.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) is investigating after media reports alleged Wellington Phoenix players drunkenly stole a golf cart when they were supposed to be on lockdown in Sydney amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It is claimed two Phoenix players were stopped by police during the early hours of Tuesday morning when spotted driving the cart on a commonly used Sydney road.

One of the players is reported to have been arrested.

Phoenix had been based at an academy in Sydney to avoid quarantine measures upon returning to New Zealand, thus allowing them to play the remaining weeks of the A-League season, but following the competition's suspension on Monday, they returned home the following day.

FFA confirmed knowledge of the reports on Wednesday and insisted it is looking into the allegations, though the identities of the players involved were not revealed.

A statement read: "Football Federation Australia (FFA) has been made aware of a report regarding two Wellington Phoenix players.

"FFA is investigating the matter, which is being taken very seriously.  If any misconduct is found to have occurred, FFA will be swift in taking action under the FFA National Code of Conduct.

"FFA is not in a position to comment further at this time."

The A-League is on hiatus indefinitely, though a further formal status assessment is scheduled to take place on April 22.

Wellington Phoenix confirmed they would fly to Sydney on Wednesday to complete the A-League season after reaching an agreement to train while in self-isolation.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) officials are planning for the rest of the A-League campaign to go ahead behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wellington must self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive due to travel measures put in place by the Australian government.

The club confirmed on Tuesday they would leave for Sydney after reaching "an agreement with Australian state-based health officials to be able to train within the self-isolation window".

"The decision to travel to Sydney in an attempt to complete this season was made as a club," Phoenix general manager David Dome said in a statement.

"We have discussed this amongst ourselves, consulted with health professionals and government bodies in Australia and New Zealand and taken all possible precautions to ensure those travelling are given the best protection possible.

"We are also conscious that the situation is constantly evolving and it may all change again tomorrow, but we are making this decision with the best information we have available at this time.

"As things have continued to evolve rapidly over the past few days, all options have been investigated and it became apparent that suspension of the Hyundai A-League was never an option."

All players and coaching staff have decided to travel to Australia on Wednesday, the club said.

Wellington are set to play the rest of their A-League games in Australia, beginning with a clash against Adelaide United on April 5.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) announced that the remainder of the A-League season will go ahead but behind closed doors, while Wellington Phoenix will play all their matches in Australia.

The future of the 2019-20 campaign has been in doubt since Australia and New Zealand introduced strict travel conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Travellers to Australia and New Zealand must self-isolate for a 14-day period due to concerns over COVID-19, however, the A-League will continue for the remaining six regular-season rounds but without fans.

Victory travelled to Wellington to face the Phoenix on Sunday, which means round 24 and 25 fixtures involving the two teams will be rescheduled as they self-isolate.

The upcoming W-League Grand Final will also take place but behind closed doors.

"The scale of football means that we have a key role to play in maintaining the health and wellbeing of Australians, as well as their families and the wider community," said FFA CEO James Johnson, with Australia's football governing body to review the situation for the upcoming finals series.

"We are doing so by allowing people to play, in line with the current government position but with additional guidance to further improve social distancing at football fields around the country.

"We have been working closely with our stakeholders, government health officials and our own chief medical officer to develop our policies for the whole of the game following the COVID-19 outbreak. The situation is subject to constant change, and further measures may be necessary in the future.

"The decision to play the remainder of the Hyundai A-League 2019-20 season, and the Westfield W-League 2020 Grand Final behind closed doors was made in consultation with the clubs and in accordance with the latest federal government advice.

"The health and safety of all members of the football community, including players, coaches, referees, volunteers, administrators and fans continues to be of paramount importance. We will continue to work with the government and seek advice as the situation changes."

We confirm that grassroots football, including all levels of the @NPLAustralia and @FFACup Preliminary Rounds, may continue to be played at this time in line with Government advice.

— Football Federation Australia (@FFA) March 15, 2020

In the A-League, Sydney FC top the table by 10 points, ahead of Melbourne City, with the Phoenix third.

Five people have died from more than 299 coronavirus cases in Australia.

Globally, there have been over 169,000 cases with more than 6,400 casualties.

The Australian government's response to coronavirus has placed Melbourne Victory's players "in a compromising position", according to the country's players' union.

Victory were beaten 3-0 by Wellington Phoenix in the A-League on Sunday, although attention after the match was focused on the altered travel restrictions between Australia and New Zealand.

In a statement, Professional Footballers Australia noted Victory's players and staff would have to undergo a compulsory 14-day self-quarantine period when they return home – a vastly altered situation to when they left Melbourne on Friday.

"While we acknowledge that the response to coronavirus is constantly evolving, the government’s reactionary behaviour and ad-hoc decision-making on travel and sporting events has placed the players in a challenging personal position," PFA chief executive John Didulica said.

"These players will now have to isolate while their livelihoods will be impacted; they will no longer be available to play and train with their team for the next fortnight.

"More clarity and proactive planning – and less see-sawing – from the government could have prevented a situation whereby we have players departing the country under one condition, and then re-entering on another in the space of 48 hours."

Wellington find themselves in a similarly compromised situation, with a period in quarantine set to follow if they travel as planned for games against Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets this week – matches that now appear impossible to stage as scheduled.

"It's a little bit up in the air at the moment. We will travel on Tuesday to Australia and then we'll have to isolate ourselves for the next couple of weeks," Wellington boss Ufuk Talay told reporters.

"I don't know [who we will be playing]. We will be flying into Sydney and going from there. There's a possibility that we might stay there and play the remaining games in Australia and might have to continue to play the finals series in Australia as well.

"We'll prepare and get ourselves ready like we're going to be there forever and prepare like we're going to come back the next day."

Phoenix attacking midfielder Ulises Davila, who opened the scoring during Sunday's win, has decided against returning to his native Mexico to be with his wife and newborn son.

"At this stage Uli has decided not to go home and see the season out," Talay explained. "We're in discussions. It's very tough.

"We had a plan in place but we can't control what is happening around the world at the moment and we'll just have to adapt to what's in front of us.

"He wants to stay, he wants to see the season off and finish the best way possible. It was his decision solely.

"He's just worried that if he goes and he comes back in a few weeks' time and he has to go into quarantine again. He's very comfortable with his wife being in Mexico with the baby because she's got family over there and he's got family over there as well."

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