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Football: Mariners fend off Wanderers to lead A-League

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Central Coast Mariners answered a top-of-the-table challenge from newcomers Western Sydney with a 6-2 hammering of Melbourne Victory in Australia's A-League this weekend.

The Wanderers held top spot for a few hours after downing Perth Glory 1-0 earlier Saturday, before the Mariners destroyed Victory in torrential rain at home.

Michael McGlinchey scored a hat-trick, Mitchell Duke netted a brace and Nick Fitzgerald added the final goal to inflict a third straight loss on Victory, who gave up third spot on goal difference to Adelaide United.

The Mariners surrendered the top spot only briefly for the first time in 13 weeks when Tony Popovic's Wanderers won their seventh straight game through midfielder Aaron Mooy's first A-League goal to ensure their qualification for the finals in their debut season.

Western Sydney became the first team since Melbourne Victory in 2006 to win seven on the trot but were made to work hard by Glory at Parramatta Stadium.

Adelaide edged past Victory following a 2-2 draw with Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand on Sunday.

Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill's A-League debut ended in defeat as Sydney FC went down 3-1 to Melbourne Heart in Melbourne on Sunday.

The defeat sent Sydney tumbling out of the top six on goal difference while the Heart replaced them in fifth spot.

Neill had said pre-game he was happy to play the part of a "pantomime villain" and it turned out that way, as he was repeatedly booed by Heart fans for backtracking on an indication he would join their club to instead sign with the Sky Blues.

Goals from Nick Kalmar, Jonathan Germano and David Williams effectively killed off the contest early in the second as Sydney were reduced to 10 men with the red carding of defender Seb Ryall in the lead-up to Williams's penalty.

Newcastle held on to sixth spot after drawing 0-0 with Brisbane at home on Friday.

rsm/ami

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130224/football-mariners-fend-wanderers-lead-league