The A-League viewership might not be reaching the heights of yesteryear, but on the pitch, we still continue to enjoy ‘peak A-league’.
Anyone who doubts that just needed to match the mayhem of the last few minutes of Central Coast Mariners’ 3-2 win against Melbourne Victory which featured two penalties, a disallowed goal, a comeback and of course, Matt Simon’s torn shirt (which will be sold as memorabilia – seriously).
Wellington Phoenix continue to ascend as they hammered home another nail in Markus Babbel's coffin by downing Western Sydney Wanderers. Sydney FC sit pretty at the top after an ugly win against Newcastle Jets whose axing of Ernie Merrick has done nothing to staunch the flow of losses.
Brisbane Roar showed signs of life as they fought for a draw against second placed side Melbourne City, while Perth Glory comfortably dispatched Adelaide United in sweltering heat.
Here are the five best players from round 14 of the A-League.
One day, teams will figure out that Ninkovic is probably someone you want to keep closely marked at all times.
Friday was not to be that day as the Jets defenders continuously fell asleep to give the Sydney legend plenty of space for him to work his magic. Although this is harsh on the Jets, it should also be credited that Ninkovic is always able to drift away from defenders and put them to the sword.
Both goals that pushed Sydney to an 11 point gap on the ladder were created by Ninkovic just finding enough time on the ball in the final third to put in that killer pass. Even after a week away from injury, he showed no signs of any rustiness and played just as well as he has throughout his A-League career.
Thankfully, there is still plenty of time for that to go on following his relatively recent contract renewal with Sydney amidst interest from newcomers Macarthur FC. These twilight years of Ninkovic’s career show no signs of him falling off anytime soon.
Cacace was the emerging teenager in the A-League before it was cool. Rather than the current crop of academy talents that have popped up this year, Cacace is looking like a seasoned veteran with 44 appearances for the Phoenix.
While it took him a few weeks to get going, the 19 year old was back to his best against the Wanderers with his runs down the left flank being one of their strongest outlets going forward.
He capped off his performance with an individual goal by showing everything that makes him such an exciting prospect as he took on his man before cutting in to slot the ball into the net with his weaker foot.
It was a bit of a mystery that no team in Europe decided to bring him on board last season, but at this rate, it would be no surprise if Cacace follows his former teammate Sarpreet Singh to one of the major leagues in Europe.
Almost from nowhere, Inman has become one of the most prolific players in the league with goals in three consecutive games for Brisbane.
Lots has been said about the English cohort that coach Robbie Fowler has brought to his side and although it looked to be a failure at first, perhaps things are starting to gel just a little bit.
Inman is definitely more comfortable in his birth country now after so many years in the UK, visible from how much his confidence has grown week after week. The past two games where he scored were goals from range, but he showed his close control with a couple of deft touches to earn his brace against City this week.
With Roar struggling for goals from their strikers, Inman’s emergence is definitely a much needed boost for Fowler. If he can continue to show this kind of form, he might be able to support Roar just enough to make a dash for the highly contested final spots come the end of the season.
He has not yet come alive in the same way that we saw at Melbourne City, but El Tuna is still pretty damn good.
Fornaroli has developed an excellent understanding with his forward partners, especially Diego Castro, which has only made Perth Glory that much more frightening.
It is no surprise that it was El Maestro who assisted El Tuna for his goal against Adelaide United. Fornaroli received the pass from Diego Castro before turning goalside to plenty of space with defenders retreating.
Rather than try to dribble past and get into the box, Fornaroli pulled the trigger from well outside the box and accurately nailed the bottom left corner.
After a slow start, Glory are now six wins from six, and with Fornaroli leading the lines, there could even be a potential challenge for league leaders Sydney.
The name that divides the nation. Some people love him, others loathe him. What you can’t deny, though, is that he always provides entertainment.
On a 10 minute cameo, Simon managed to score two goals – both from penalties – get into a tussle with opponents and have his shirt ripped, still torn when he took his second penalty.
It was quintessential Simon. He almost certainly added a few more enemies on his already long list, but he also helped Mariners fight in a remarkable comeback against Victory.