De Laet ‘desperate’ to reclaim City spot

Ritchie De Laet is in contention to return for Melbourne City when they travel to Adelaide United on Sunday.

The former Belgium international was a late scratching from the City side that went down 1-0 to leaders Perth Glory last weekend.

His knee locked after training last week and he's had limited training, but coach Warren Joyce is hopeful he can step straight back into the side at Coopers Stadium.

Speaking of the 30-year-old's injury, the coach said: "There's nothing untoward, his knee just locked up. Obviously, we had three injuries on the same day so that was just an internal problem.

"He's done well so far this season; he's desperate to play. Not had much training this week so we'll just see and assess after training today."

Defensive midfielder Osama Malik could make his first appearance of the season, having been unavailable so far due to a calf injury.

Joyce said the 28-year-old had played during an in-house game, and been able to train.

"He's obviously been out a long time; he's a great kid and he's desperate to train," he added. "I took him on Monday when the rest of the lads were off – and you can see a little bit of sharpness is needed but he's desperate to be a part of it and, again, we'll just assess him today."

Though they've only scored in two of their past five games, and didn't have a shot on target in the defeat to Perth, City have again chosen to leave out striker Bruno Fornaroli.

Joyce said Frenchman Florin Berenguer was unlikely to be seen until the new year with a calf injury.

City are 11/5 to win their next game against Adelaide, who are 13/10 with the draw 23/10.

City are 17/2 to win the match 1-0. De Laet is 15/2 to score at any time in the game.

View all Soccer betting

Kurz proud despite loss

Coach Marco Kurz feels Adelaide United can justifiably take consolation from their 2-0 defeat to defending champions Melbourne Victory.

The Reds went looking to make it three straight wins when they travelled to Marvel Stadium and, although they came away empty-handed, Kurz was encouraged by the number of good chances they created.

Kevin Muscat's side had shown more ruthlessness in front of goal, said the United coach, and that was the difference between the two teams.

Kosta Barbarouses netted from a rebound to give the home side the lead just past the hour mark and Ola Toivonen's second goal with nine minutes to go secured the points for Victory.

Adelaide could and should have been ahead before Barbarouses struck, Kurz believes. Their performance against a team that had won their previous four games and had home advantage left him pleased.

"I'm very proud about the performance because I think we played a very good game," said the coach. "The only mistake was that we didn't score a goal; I think we played well and the difference today was the quality from the offensive lines.

"If you want to win games you must score goals and I think we had more than four or five big chances and then you've to score a goal if you want to pick up the points away."

It was only Adelaide's second loss in the opening seven rounds and he is confident they can bounce back when they host Melbourne City this weekend.

"I think we played well and we can play flexible," added Kurz. We can change the system a lot of the time and find always a good solution; the boys are hungry for success."

Adelaide are 10/1 to win the Grand Final and 5/4 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 2/1 with the draw 5/2.

Victory extend winning run

Melbourne Victory stayed two points behind A-League leaders Perth as they made it five straight wins by seeing off Adelaide United 2-0 at Marvel Stadium.

Both goals came in the second half, from Kosta Barbarouses and Ola Toivonen, after Marco Kurz's side had matched the hosts before the break.

The two teams struggled to create clear-cut chances, with Adelaide having the better of the opportunities before they fell behind.

Victory suffered an early setback when the returning Georg Niedermeier had to come off due to an ankle injury.

The visitors came close to taking the lead on 15 minutes when full-back Michael Marrone's header from a corner rebounded off the crossbar.

Victory saw Toivonen's 20-yard effort palmed away by keeper Paul Izzo soon after, and Kevin Muscat's side had penalty shouts for handball turned down.

Keeper Lawrence Thomas did well either side of the break to keep out United.

First he made a good save down low to deny Marrone in first-half added time, then he closed down Apostolos Stamatelopoulos early in the second half, with the forward poking his shot wide.

A Stamatelopoulos header flashed just wide on the hour mark, but it was Victory who went ahead.

Toivonen forced a good save from Izzo with a header from Terry Antonis' cross, and Barbarouses was able to tuck away the rebound for his second goal in as many games.

The Reds threatened to level 17 minutes from time when Ben Halloran had a one-on-one with Thomas, with the keeper able to push away his shot.

Thomas was twice called into action just before Victory's second goal, tipping over a Marrone cross-cum-shot and then stopping Craig Goodwin's effort.

Toivonen played a one-two with Antonis to create the chance for him to finish into the bottom corner and secure the three points.

Adelaide United are 10/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Reds are 5/4 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 2/1 with the draw 5/2.

View all Soccer betting

Lia seeks a compact United

Vince Lia admits Adelaide United will have to improve their defensive form when they take on Melbourne Victory at Marvel Stadium.

The Reds have the second-best record in the A-League in terms of goals conceded, with only last season's Premier's Plate winners Sydney having let in fewer.

But the way Victory are playing, with four consecutive wins taking them up to second spot, Lia says they won't be able to afford any mistakes in Melbourne.

The Reds are up to fourth in the table, on the back of three wins from their last four matches.

They've won both of their away matches so far this season, against Central Coast and Wellington, but those two teams are in the bottom two and taking on the defending champions will be a tougher prospect.

Lia said of Kevin Muscat's side: "For them to be in this form early shows they're a very good team, and they're going to be title contenders, the favourites probably.

"They've got so many players that can hurt you, so I think if you focus on (Keisuke) Honda alone you'll get hurt by (James) Troisi or (Terry) Antonis, who's having a good year, Kosta's (Barbarouses) up front."

The holding midfielder, who has started all but one of the Reds' games this season, added: "We've to be better defensively, more compact, and more solid. I think if we give them as many chances as we've given some other teams in the last few weeks we'll get punished."

Coach Marco Kurz has included centre-back Michael Jakobsen in his extended squad following a minor injury complaint.

Adelaide United are 9/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Reds are 14/5 to win their next game against Melbourne Victory, who are 10/11 with the draw 14/5.

View all Soccer betting

Alosi surveys defeat damage

Three Brisbane Roar players were injured as John Aloisi's side went down 2-1 at Adelaide United.

The most concerning of the three for the coach was a groin injury for leading scorer Adam Taggart in the first half.

Taggart, who had scored five goals in as many games going into the match, hit the post with a shot before limping out of the Coopers Stadium clash.

Stefan Mauk will also need to be monitored after being knocked out in injury time in an incident that saw him dismissed.

Mauk's studs-up challenge earned a straight red from the referee, but Aloisi was angry that United's players tried to intervene by attempting to drag the player to his feet while he was concussed.

Aloisi, who will also assess a knee injury to Frenchman Eric Bautheac, will lose Mauk for at least one game.

It was the second sending-off of the night, with Adelaide defender Taylor Regan being shown a second yellow card putting his hands on the face of Mauk.

Speaking of the incident involving Mauk just before the end of the game, Aloisi said: "I don't appreciate when a player's welfare, and especially our player, my player. He's knocked out and then I see their players pulling him up and then they're yelling as if it was our fault."

The coach said he had been disappointed with opposite number Marco Kurz's reaction at that time, though he indicated it may have been that Kurz hadn't understood the points he was making about his players' actions.

Speaking of Taggart's injury, Aloisi said: "We just have wait and see but that seems a little bit more serious. We'll wait 24 hours maybe and then we'll see what the doctor says."

Bautheac was forced off in the second half after copping a knock to his right knee in a collision with Regan.

"He (Bautheac) seems to get kicked every week which is unfortunate for him, hopefully it's not too serious," said Aloisi.

The Roar are 5/2 to win their next game against Newcastle Jets, who are 1/1, with the draw 13/5.

View all Soccer betting

Halloran brace inspires Reds

Ben Halloran struck just either side of half-time to give Adelaide United a 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar at Coopers Stadium.

It was the Reds' third win in four games and lifted them into second spot on the A-League table.

Marco Kurz's side are translating their pre-season form, where they lost just one of their nine friendlies and also secured the FFA Cup by beating Sydney FC, into the league campaign.

Both teams had a player sent off in a feisty fixture, with Adelaide losing defender Taylor Regan for an off-the-ball incident with Stefan Mauk on 70 minutes.

In injury time, Mauk was given a straight red card for a studs-up tackle on Craig Cooper, which sparked a dispute between the rival coaches.

Halloran put the Reds in front two minutes before the interval and took just four minutes of the second half to make it 2-0.

Henrique pulled a goal back for Brisbane midway through the second half, but their defeat leaves them highly likely to lose their top-six spot later in the round.

The Roar weren't helped by having Adam Taggart, who had netted five goals in five games going into the clash, forced off during the first half by a groin problem.

Taggart struck the post for the visitors, while the Reds were also denied by the woodwork twice before the break.

First Ken Ilso's header bounced off the post from Goodwin's cross, then Regan's looped header came back off the crossbar.

Halloran's first league goal for the club broke the deadlock when he dispatched Goodwin's low cross.

He was in the right place at the right time to double their lead after Ryan Kitto's cross was parried by keeper Jamie Young and the forward finished comfortably.

Henrique replied on 67 minutes as he slid in to finish a low cross from fellow substitute Dylan Wenzel-Halls.

United are 13/5 to win their next game against Melbourne Victory, who are 10/11, with the draw 11/4.

View all Soccer betting

Phoenix couldn’t regroup after equaliser

Mark Rudan admitted his Wellington Phoenix side got too down over conceding a goal right on half-time, as they fell to a 3-1 defeat to Adelaide United.

The Phoenix coach tried to lift his players' spirits after they saw their opening goal from Mandi – their first since the opening round – cancelled out by a Tom Doyle own goal just before the break.

The side's mentality was at fault, he conceded after what was their third-straight defeat.

Ken Ilso scored Adelaide's two second-half goals at Westpac Stadium, his first coming just 100 seconds after the restart.

Rudan felt overall it was one of his team's better performances of the season, but he was concerned that they hadn't been able to mentally regroup after conceding the badly-timed equaliser.

"Coming in at 1-1 at half-time, the boys were really down and we were lifting up their spirits. It was a constant message from myself and my coaching staff to just lift them," he said.

"To be fair, a part of me in the second half I thought I could probably see that coming because they were so down. That's just mentality, that's just being able to switch the mentality and just saying 'it happened, we're still in the game, it's 1-1 and we're at home, stay positive'."

Rudan, who had made four changes to his starting side, added: "You can talk everything else, you can talk tactics and all that sort of stuff. Today, that wasn't relevant; today the biggest issue was our mental approach to the second half."

Wellington are 66/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Phoenix are 21/10 to win their next game against Perth, who are 6/5 with the draw 5/2.

View all Soccer betting

Ilso double guides Adelaide to victory

Wellington Phoenix changed things around for their home clash with Adelaide United, but it was the same old story as they went down 3-1.

Mark Rudan made four changes to his starting side for the Westpac Stadium clash, in an effort to turn things around following back-to-back losses to Western Sydney and Melbourne City.

The team's inability to match quality opposition for 90 minutes was exposed again though, as they conceded goals just either side of the break.

The Phoenix caused United some problems in the first half, and managed to take the lead only to let in a crucial goal just before half-time.

That own goal from Tom Doyle was a big blow, and when Ken Ilso headed in the Reds' second goal two minutes into the second half they weren't able to get back on terms as they managed just four shots on target in the match.

Ilso netted his second of the match from a counter-attack on 64 minutes, meaning Rudan's side have conceded eight goals in the space of three games.

The coach brought in Nathan Burns, Ryan Lowry and Michal Kopczynski for their first starts of the season, while also recalling Alex Rufer to the starting side.

Initially the changes looked to have made a positive effect, as they took the lead on 14 minutes. United keeper Paul Izzo's punch was weak from Tom Doyle's header back across goal and when the ball bounced to Mandi on the edge of the area he volleyed home for his first goal for the club.

Isaias almost brought Adelaide level midway through the half but his free-kick was well saved by keeper Filip Kurto.

The Reds did equalise when left wing back Doyle headed a cross into his own net after the ball skimmed over the heads of three players in front of him.

Just 100 seconds into the second half Ilso headed in Michael Marrone's superb cross, and once they were behind Wellington threw extra men forward which left them vulnerable to counter-attacks.

One of them provided Adelaide's third goal after Lowry lost the ball on halfway and Ben Halloran fed Ryan Kitto whose low cross was glanced home by Ilso.

Adelaide United are 12/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Reds are 5/6 to win their next game against Brisbane Roar, who are 3/1 with the draw 11/4.

View all Soccer betting

Phoenix return for Galloway

Scott Galloway is expecting Wellington Phoenix to be a tough nut to crack at Westpac Stadium as he returns to his former home with Adelaide United.

The 23-year-old left the Phoenix at the end of last season, and is now with his fourth club in just over two years. His stays in Wellington, and before that at Central Coast, lasted just a season each.

When he was with the Phoenix he played 22 games and was part of a team that only just avoided the A-League wooden spoon.

The team coached last season by Andrija Kalezic won only four of their 13 home games, but he feels Wellington are a better side this season now they're under Mark Rudan.

Ahead of Saturday's clash, the 23-year-old says he's aware of Wellington's attacking quality.

"Watching them and the pace that they have especially on the counter-attack, the way they play is they've got five at the back and then they've got some classy, quick players up front," said Galloway.

"Looking from the outside, the way it is set up there is a lot better than what it was last year, and I think that comes down to the coach, the coaching staff and the approach they have made this year."

Adelaide are one point and one place ahead of the Phoenix, with both sides having only won one of their opening four games.

United are 21/20 to beat Wellington, who are 5/2, with the draw 13/5.

View all Soccer betting

Phoenix aiming to stem goals

Wellington Phoenix are aiming to rediscover the defensive solidity they had at the start of the A-League season when they take on Adelaide United.

The Phoenix have shipped five goals without reply in their last two games, including a 3-0 home defeat the last time they played in front of their own fans against Western Sydney.

And defender Dylan Fox, who came into the side for their last game at Melbourne City, is focused on helping Mark Rudan's side become a formidable side especially at Westpac Stadium.

They take on an Adelaide side who have only won one of their first four games, but that was a 3-0 victory away to Central Coast.

Craig Goodwin, who has been on fire for the Reds in the early rounds, scored twice in Gosford to secure that win and Fox is looking forward to locking horns with him and his teammates on Saturday.

"They've got a few good players up front and they've been in good form recently," he said. "We're obviously aware [of the threat]; we've done our homework.

"Anyone who comes to Wellington, we want it to be a hard game for them. That's what we set out to do this year – we're going to be a hard team to beat."

Wellington were solid at the back in the first two rounds, beating last season's Grand Finalists Newcastle Jets in their opening game and then drawing 0-0 at Brisbane Roar.

The Phoenix are 5/2 to beat Adelaide, who are 21/20, with the draw 13/5.

View all Soccer betting