The competition lead shifts in Western Australia, while there were late goals in Queensland in a drama-packed weekend of National Premier Leagues action across the country.
Check out this weekend's NPL wrap below:
NEW SOUTH WALES
The premiership race in the NPL NSW now looks to be between Sydney Olympic and APIA Leichhardt Tigers after third-placed Blacktown City dropped points at Manly United.
The 1-1 draw at Cromer Park sees Mark Crittenden’s side nine points off the pace and although City have a game in hand on their top-two rivals, games are beginning to run out.
Olympic retained their four-point advantage over APIA Leichhardt thanks to an Alejandro Sanchez double against Marconi Stallions. The Spaniard struck his 10th and 11th goals of the campaign to temporarily move the Blues seven points ahead of APIA Leichhardt.
But that gap was trimmed when Billy McColl’s men cruised to a 4-1 win over Rockdale City Suns at Lambert Park. Jordan Murray was the hat trick hero for the Tigers, who also found the net from Tasuku Sekiya.
Elsewhere, Sydney FC bolstered their hopes of avoiding relegation with a win over Bonnyrigg White Eagles, another late goal helped Wollongong Wolves see off Hakoah Sydney City East, while Sydney United 58 moved into third position with a victory over Sutherland Sharks.
Perth Glory have clinched pole position in the NPL WA table after 5-3 win away at ECU Joondalup on Saturday.
The win moves Glory two points clear of former leaders Bayswater City, who were felled by Cockburn City 2-1 in a first-versus-third clash. Cockburn are a further four points behind Glory thanks to a double from Harry O’Brien.
Inglewood United also remain in the premiership race after defeating Armadale in a 3-2 thriller that threw up one of the most controversial moments of the season.
With Inglewood leading 2-1, the ball had been put out of play to allow Kenny Keogh to receive treatment, leaving Armadale to throw the ball back to United keeper Alex Dunn to resume play. However, Armadale striker Chris Jackson nipped in and scored much to the anger of the home side.
After a few minutes' deliberation, Armadale accepted Jackson had made an error of judgement and keeper Sam Hutchings deliberately put through his own goal from Alex Salmon’s restart to restore Inglewood’s one-goal advantage – eventually holding on for a vital three points.
Elsewhere, Perth SC’s title defence looks to be in tatters after conceding a last-minute equaliser to Subiaco. The reigning champions are now eight points behind leaders Perth Glory.
Balcatta defeated Forrestfield United 1-0, Sorrento edged Stirling Lions 2-1 and Floreat Athena hammered cellar dwellers Joondalup United in the weekend’s other fixtures.
Heidelberg United have opened a two-point gap over second-placed Bentleigh Greens after defeating Oakleigh Cannons 3-0 on Sunday.
The top two were separated by goal difference prior to the weekend action but a comprehensive win for the Bergers and Bentleigh’s 0-0 draw with Norcote City hands Heidelberg the advantage in the premiership race.
Goals from Thomas Cahill, Alexander Schiavo and an own goal by Milos Ridesic saw Heidelberg cruise to a three-goal win over Oakleigh, who remain in eighth position.
Bentleigh will be ruing their failure to punish Norcote City the day earlier. The league strugglers were reduced to 10-men midway through the second half when Zachary Sukunda was dismissed, but Bentleigh were unable to capitalise.
It was a similarly disappointing weekend for premiership rivals Avondale, who succumbed to a 1-0 loss at home to Port Melbourne Sharks. Sam Smith notched the only goal of the game for the Sharks, who move into fifth position as a result. Avondale are now seven points away from leaders Heidelberg.
In the weekend’s other matches, Hume City defeated Melbourne Knights 3-2, Dandenong Thunder beat Green Gully 3-2, and Pascoe Vale clinched a 3-2 win over South Melbourne.
Campbelltown City have wrestled the NPL SA lead back off MetroStars after defeating Para Hills Knights 2-0 on Saturday.
A goal in either half from Alexander Mullen and Adam Piscioneri was enough for Campbelltown to regain top spot and open a two-point gap, with MetroStars suffering a shock 3-0 loss to Adelaide Olympic.
Fausto Erba notched a hat trick to make it nine goals in six appearances for Olympic, who are now up to sixth position.
Sturt Lions registered their second win of the campaign with a 2-0 win over premiership-chasing Adelaide Comets in the weekend’s other big result.
Elsewhere, Adelaide City defeated West Adelaide 3-1, while Croydon Kings trumped Adelaide United 2-0.
NORTHERN NEW SOUTH WALES
It was first versus second as Edgeworth Eagles and Broadmeadow Magic played out a 0-0 draw on Sunday afternoon. The result keeps Broadmeadow ahead of their opponents by one point.
Third-placed Maitland FC failed to take advantage of the stalemate after succumbing to a 2-2 draw with Adamstown Rosebud. Matt Comerford’s brace had established a two-goal buffer for the visitors, but two red cards for Maitland and penalties from Ben Higgins and Robbie Turnbull ensured a share of the spoils.
Lambton Jaffas also failed to make up ground on the top pair after fighting out a 0-0 draw with Weston Bears. As a result, Lambton and Maitland remain four points away from Broadmeadow.
In the league’s other fixtures, Lake Macquarie City defeated Charlestown City Blues 3-0, while Valentine’s match up against Hamilton Olympic was washed out.
Western Pride issued a statement of intent on Saturday with an 8-1 win over Sunshine Coast FC. The league leaders have now scored 74 goals in 17 league matches, and have a goal difference of +58.
Second-placed Olympic FC remain on the tails of the Pride after a stunning late comeback forced a 3-2 win over SWQ Thunder. The Thunder were found themselves 2-0 up with seven minutes of normal time remaining, before a Costa Psaros brace and Alexander Smith strike snatched a crucial three points for Olympic.
Olympic remain level on points with the Pride but their goal difference of +32 is significantly dwarfed by their premiership rivals.
Third-placed Lions FC also remain in the hunt thanks to a 5-0 hammering of Magpies Crusaders FC, while a stoppage time winner from Riley Campbell ensures Moreton Bay United finish the round level with the Lions on 39 points.
In the league’s other fixtures, Brisbane Strikers beat Gold Coast United 4-0, Cairns defeated Brisbane City 3-1, and Brisbane Roar trumped Redlands United 3-0.
Canberra Olympic defeated Monaro Panthers 5-0 to grab top spot after a thrilling round of action in the Australian capital.
Olympic’s Domenic Giampalo led the way with a double, while late strikes from Michael John, Roko Strika and Stephen Domenici completed the rout.
Tuggeranong United had the chance to grab the competition lead when they came up against Tigers FC, but a brace from Mark Shields saw the Tigers inflict a potentially damaging result on Tuggeranong, who end the weekend in third position.
Meanwhile, Artur Rattel’s second half strike saw Riverina Rhinos edge Gungahlin United 1-0, in a result that blows the race for fourth spot wide open. The Rhinos are now three points away from their opponents, with Belconnen United and Woden Weston playing out a 1-1 draw to remain in the hunt.
Launceston City are still leading the way in Tasmania after cruising to a 4-1 victory over Olympia Warriors on Saturday afternoon. Two goals in three minutes from Tyler Fischer proved pivotal for City, who retain a four-point gap over second-placed Devonport.
Devonport edged South Hobart 1-0 in their fixture at Valley Road, while Hobart Zebras defeated Kingborough Lions in a 4-3 thriller.
Northern Rangers defeated Clarence United 4-2 in the competition’s other fixture.
Darwin Olympic’s Mitchell Amidy scored a hat trick as the second-placed side defeated Mindil Aces 4-2 on Friday. The result means Olympic are three points away from frontrunners Helenic AC, who entertain Casuarina tomorrow night.
A brace apiece from John Deane and Jack Naumann helped Port Darwin FC claim their first win of the campaign following a 4-1 victory over Palmerston Rovers. Port Darwin are still bottom of the league and are four points away from Mindil Aces in sixth.