Adelaide United gained a point from a hard-earned draw with Wellington Phoenix on Sunday to lead Australia's A-League on goal difference heading into next weekend's final round of matches.
Adelaide could not capitalise on a ten-man Phoenix but managed a 1-1 scoreline to join Melbourne Victory on top of the competition on 35 points with one round left to decide the play-off spots for this season.
Phoenix also kept alive their chances of finishing in the top four despite having skipper Tim Brown sent off early in the second half. Brown went for a second yellow card after a crude tackle on Adelaide striker Travis Dodd, leaving referee Chris Beath with no option but to send him off.
Paul Reid scored for Adelaide in the ninth minute only to be cancelled out in the 31st minute by Costa Barbarouses, who was enjoying his first start of the season. Phoenix's point puts them two points behind Central Coast Mariners ahead of their final match of the season away to Melbourne Victory next Friday.
Melbourne joined Adelaide at the top after a comfortable 3-0 victory over Central Coast at home on Friday to bounce back from their disappointing 3-2 reverse at Perth the previous week. Danny Allsopp, Brazilian Ney Fabiano and Archie Thompson were on target for Victory.
Queensland, in third place on 33 points, snuffed out Sydney FC's outside finals' hopes in a 3-1 win at home on Saturday. Dutch striker Sergio van Dijk scored a hattrick for Roar in front of a crowd of over 19,000.
The Roar can clinch the minor premiership as the first team past the post if they beat Perth at home next Saturday and Melbourne and Adelaide both lose their matches. The Mariners need only to draw against Adelaide at home next Sunday to qualify for the playoffs.