Just a handful of matches left and for the first time this season there's daylight between fast-paced fourth-placed Wellington Phoenix and fifth Adelaide United.

You get the feeling the top four is just as it should be. 

Roy Krishna opened the scoring in sensational style, blasting past Vedran Janjetovic before a Mandi-special from a set-piece and a cracking curler from David Williams put the match to bed before half-time.

Mitch Duke notched a consolation, a taste of what the Wanderers can achieve when they can muster a half-decent cross, but it's too little too late for Markus Babbel's side. The free-scoring Nix, however, have cemented themselves as dark horses in the A-League Championship race.


Rampaging Roy Krishna

He's our bet for most exciting striker in the league. The Fijian is the forward's forward, the triple-threat: electric pace, bullet-like power and a heads-down, goal-tally up attitude that sees him run all day.

His opener, cheekily tapping an interception towards goal, blasting his way past Bredan Hamill before, easy-as-you-like, tucking the ball into the side netting showed all three. 

The celebration, echoing Kosta Barbarouses' tribute to the Christchurch terrorist attacks, was also pure class. Now Krishna's outright golden boot leader (15) and just one short of Jeremy Brockie's 'most goals in a season' record for the Nix.

Bit of a fat lip to end it on however, picking up a second-yellow for a mischievious wack on Raul Llorente. He'll miss the Newcastle Jets in a fortnight. 


A new star for keen-eyed Kiwi astronomers?

It's one thing to take good footballers and make them great, a la Roy Krishna. It's another to reinvigorate a footballer's career, read: David Williams. But to develop young stars is a coach-making feat in it's own right, and Max Burgess is the latest stella nova set to reach superstardom under Mark Rudan. 

It's easy to forget the 24-year-old Sydney FC graduate has been around as long as he has, only boasting a handful of A-League appearances until this season. But under Rudan, as have so many others, the midfielder looks purposefully aggressive and silky on the ball.


Kurto's killing it

If you're a stats man, the former Polish youth keeper Filip Kurto is the best goalkeeper in the league. It's an interesting stat given the former Wisla Krakow graduate had a very ordinary club career before touching down across the ditch, and came to a league with a rich tradition of producing quality keepers. 

But the stats don't lie. He's numero uno in save percentage (75%) and has copped one of the highest shot counts in the league. Truth be told, he's arguably been Rudes' make or break signing. 

Statistically, had the Phoenix put Vedran Janjetovic between the stanchions this season, they would have conceded another nine goals this season...


Mandi leaves Vedran dumbstruck 

They say that goalkeepers have to cover one side, the wall the other. But when goalkeepers stand there and watch the ball drift in every other week, it's hardly a good look.

Mandi's strike was a near-perfect free kick, gliding milimetres above a wall at full stretch, then curling effortlessly into the goal behind. But given Mandi's position, that kind of strike was far more likely than a reverse effort back into Vedran Janjetovic's breadbasket. 

Yet the keeper's inertia was palpable, poor Vedran just stood there and admired it like the rest of us.


Raul Llorente's crossing

As poor as Oriol Riera's been this season, the service the big Spaniard has had to deal with has been borderline useless. Llorente, who has been in and out of the side, has been a particular offender given Bruce Kamau's willingness to cut inside, but neither has been up to scratch. (Sidenote: Kamau doesn't look bad as a fullback.)

This porous crossing seems to be contagious as even Roly Bonevacia and Alex Baumjohann were struggling to loft a ball. It's a double-edged sword, because when Riera does get his head on the end, it's resulted in far fewer conversions than last campaign. 

At the very least though, it does usually draw a save, rather than an opposition throw-in. 


Wanderers' star-studded mis-firers

The fact that Alex Baumjohann and Kwame Yeboah can start on the bench and the Wanderers still boast a pedigreed attacking lineup says all you need to know about the investment that's going into that club. 

But so often under Markus Babbel, it's all been for nowt. Yeboah, Duke and Riera all seem most threatening as central strikers and none of them appear to work as attacking midfielders.

Former Bayern Munich man Baumjohann's dire penalty effort, dragging a fairly listless shot well-wide from the spot, just about sums it all up. Hard to lay the blame on lack of service when the balls placed on a tee in front of you.