Fowler takes reins at Brisbane Roar

Robbie Fowler has been appointed as Brisbane Roar's new coach, on a two-year deal.

The Liverpool legend has been given his first coaching job by the A-League side and is returning to the competition where he played for North Queensland Fury and Perth Glory.

He will succeed Darren Davies, who has been interim coach since John Aloisi resigned in December.

Davies has only won three of his 17 games in charge and the Roar, who were thrashed 6-1 at home by Newcastle Jets at the weekend, are guaranteed to finish next to bottom in the table.

Fowler has confirmed that Davies will stay on his coaching staff but that former Everton midfielder Tony Grant will be his assistant.

The 44-year-old said: "I'm so excited; it's something I've wanted for a long time. To actually get a job with a great team is very very rewarding and I'm really proud of myself.

"I always knew if I wanted to become a manager, it had to be the right club and I just feel as though Brisbane is. It's a long way from home but I think the club has got a lot to offer, and I feel like I've got a lot to offer the club as well."

Fowler will be presented to the crowd at Suncorp Stadium ahead of Thursday's Anzac Day match against Adelaide United when the Roar will finish their season.

Speaking of the team's fortunes this season, he said: "[It] has obviously been a little bit disappointing but you always look for positives and as far as I'm concerned, the only way is up. Everyone knows the club and the place probably needs a bit of a freshen up; I'm confident I can do that, I feel as though I am the right man."

Fowler has been working as a pundit in recent years and has served as an academy coach at Liverpool.

Brisbane Roar are 9/2 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 8/15 with the draw 10/3.

The Roar are 25/1 to win 1-0.

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Blackwood header sees off Victory

George Blackwood's header 10 minutes from time gave Adelaide United a potentially crucial 1-0 home win over Melbourne Victory.

The Reds made it three wins in their last four games to put themselves in pole position to secure fourth spot in the A-League and a home final.

Defending champions Victory will now have to settle for a third-place finish behind Perth Glory and Sydney FC.

It was a game lacking in fluency, with few clear-cut chances in the first half.

Blackwood headed wide twice, before Terry Antonis and Ola Toivonen went close in the final five minutes of the half.

Swedish striker Toivonen was off target twice just after the break, first with a header then with a shot.

Victory keeper Matt Acton, who retained his place in the side despite Lawrence Thomas returning to fitness, had little to do.

The visitors had the ball in the back of the net when central defender James Donachie headed home Keisuke Honda's corner with 12 minutes to go, but the effort was ruled out for an infringement.

Honda avoided being sent off for a second bookable offence when his studs made contact with Ryan Kitto's knee.

Adelaide won it when Blackwood squeezed past two defenders to power a header past Acton from Isaias' cross.

United coach Marco Kurz said: "It was an important result and a fantastic game from our side. Defensively very, very good; very strong and the boys believed until the end of the game.

"It was a very intensive game from both sides. Tactically both teams were very strong and very good against the ball and in the end we were the lucky winner."

Melbourne Victory are 5/1 to win the Grand Final while Kosta Barbarouses is 6/1 to be the A-League's top goalscorer.

Reds up to fourth after stalemate

Adelaide United earned a point from a goalless draw away to Melbourne City that lifted them into the A-League top four.

The Reds moved a point clear of Wellington Phoenix with just two rounds left of the regular season, after an action-packed encounter at AAMI Park.

Both keepers were in superb form and the woodwork helped preserve the deadlock.

City keeper Eugene Galekovic was called into action first, when he made a save with his feet to deny Craig Goodwin, who had been slipped in by Ben Halloran.

Adelaide were relieved soon after as City midfielder Kearyn Baccus curled in a shot from the edge of the box that ricocheted off the post.

The home side also struck the woodwork before the interval, substitute Nikola Mileusnic cutting inside and seeing his shot deflect off Ritchie De Laet and onto the post.

Galekovic made a double save at the other end to deny United, first stopping a George Blackwood effort and then thwarting Halloran's follow-up effort.

City again came close when Harrison Delbridge's header from inside the six-yard box from a Shayon Harrison set-piece was tipped onto the bar by Reds keeper Paul Izzo.

The frame of the goal was again rattled 15 minutes from time as Jamie Maclaren just failed to squeeze his shot past Izzo from a narrow angle. The keeper got a touch to the attempt to beat him at his near post and diverted it against the upright.

Adelaide will secure a top-four spot and a home final if they win both their remaining matches, though their next game is against defending champions Melbourne Victory on Good Friday.

Meanwhile, Sydney FC are 66/1 to win the Asian Champions League final with Al-Hilal 7/1 and Kashima Antlers priced at 8/1.

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Adelaide seal impressive win

Apostolos Stamatelopoulos scored twice for Adelaide United but was sent off before half time in their 3-1 win over Wellington Phoenix.

The striker doubled his tally of goals for the club as he helped them go 3-0 up in the first half. But just moments after completing his brace, he was dismissed for a studs-up challenge on Mandi.

That left the Reds facing a fightback from Mark Rudan's side, who went into the game just three points clear of them in fourth spot.

Substitute striker Cillian Sheridan squandered a golden chance to get the Phoenix back into the game and, although he fired in a rebound 17 minutes from time, the visitors couldn't get any closer.

Wellington will go into the final three games of the regular season with a six-goal advantage in goal difference as the teams fight for a top-four finish that would secure a home final.

Adelaide went in front on 10 minutes when defender Michael Marrone headed home from a corner after eluding the marking of defender Michal Kopczynski.

Stamatelopoulos made it 2-0 in the 17th minute when he beat Andrew Durante to a Scott Galloway cross and buried the ball past keeper Filip Kurto.

The Phoenix were denied two minutes before the break when Antony Golec's header from a corner beat keeper Paul Izzo but was cleared off the line by Galloway.

They conceded the third goal almost immediately, Craig Goodwin whipping in a cross which Stamatelopoulos headed against the body of Kurto and just over the line.

Rudan sent on Sheridan and Max Burgess for the second half in a search for goals.

Sheridan should have notched his first A-League goal nine minutes after the restart when Burgess' pass gave him the chance to round Izzo.

His touch was too heavy, though, and he couldn't get in a shot with Sarpreet Singh blazing his cut-back over the bar.

Sheridan pulled a goal back when Mandi's shot from the edge of the 18-yard box struck the post and rebounded to him.

Adelaide United are 14/1 to win the Grand Final and 21/10 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 13/10 with the draw 9/4.

Kurz to leave Adelaide at season’s end

Adelaide United coach Marco Kurz is to leave the club at the end of the season.

The 49-year-old German will see out his second campaign at the Reds but said talks about a renewal of his contract had not worked out.

Kurz has been linked with the vacancy at second-bottom Brisbane Roar.

Chairman Piet van der Pol had issued a statement last week after Kurz had accused him of leaving him waiting a month for a reply after leaving him a message.

It left the pair looking unlikely to reach a resolution about a new deal, and Kurz says he they did not share a "common vision" for the club.

"Our goals are very different and therefore a renewal of my contract does not make sense," he said.
 
"Regardless of this decision, it is important now to focus on reaching our aims for the season and to secure a spot in the finals."

Kurz guided the Reds to success in the FFA Cup last year, when they beat Sydney FC in the final.

The club have spent the whole of this season in the Finals Series spots, and though they have not won in four games they are still likely to finish in the top six.

United are sixth, and have a five-point gap above Newcastle Jets with five rounds to go.

Van der Pol said in a statement: "After meeting with Marco…I informed him of our decision not to extend his contract beyond this season. In the coming weeks we will be identifying potential candidates."

Kurz has denied speculation he had held talks with Brisbane, who parted with coach John Aloisi in late December.

Adelaide United are 16/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Reds are 4/7 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 17/4 with the draw 16/5.

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Stajcic salutes Mariners spirit

Interim coach Alen Stajcic feels it was tiredness, rather than nerves, that almost caused Central Coast Mariners to surrender a three-goal lead in their 3-2 win over Newcastle Jets.

The Gosford club took the honours in the F3 derby at McDonald Jones Stadium, claiming just their second win of the season.

It came in the wake of them sacking Mike Mulvey as coach following the 8-2 thrashing at home to Wellington Phoenix the previous weekend.

Stajcic, who has been appointed until the end of the season, praised the team for their effort against a Jets team battling for a Final Series spot.

"To see the spirit and the effort and the way the lads went about their work, you could see they were fighting and scrapping for every moment; trying to win every ball, every challenge," said the former Matildas coach.

Stajcic said the players had given everything in terms of energy, effort and fortitude, and also felt they did well mentally.

The Mariners scored three goals in a 16-minute spell in the second half, and still had that 3-0 advantage with 16 minutes left.

The coach said he had watched them in a number of games this season where they had dominated but gone on to concede two or three goals in a hurry.

They conceded twice in the space of seven minutes this time, with Roy O'Donovan and Ronny Vargas on the scoresheet.

But, thanks to the heroics of keeper Ben Kennedy in saving an injury-time penalty from O'Donovan – a spot-kick that had to be retaken following encroachment – Stajcic's team held on to pick up the three points.

He said of their habit of conceding goals quickly: "It's something the team needs to address in terms of tactical shape and mentality as well. I think they did that tonight; I think it was fatigue more than mentality.

"I'm really pleased with them and I know it'll be a big relief for them to overcome the dark places they felt they were in during the week."

Central Coast are 17/4 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 4/7 with the draw 16/5.

The Mariners are 18/1 to win 1-0.

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Perth close in on Premiers’ Plate

Perth Glory extended their lead at the top of the A-League to nine points with a comfortable 2-0 win away to Adelaide United.

Goals either side of the break from Diego Castro and Andy Keogh saw Tony Popovic's side return to winning ways after back-to-back draws.

The Glory have now suffered just one defeat in 22 rounds, and are closing in on the Premier's Plate.

Adelaide have gone five games without a win and could fall to sixth spot by the end of the round.

Castro silenced the jeers of the United fans at Coopers Stadium when he put Perth ahead 10 minutes before the break.

The Spaniard had just fired horribly wide with what looked a straightforward chance, after United keeper Paul Izzo parried Chris Ikonomidis' curler into his path.

He made amends when he saw a shot from 15 metres out deflect off defender Scott Galloway past the wrong-footed Izzo to put the visitors in front.

Izzo made diving first-half saves from Chris Ikonomidis and Joel Chianese as Perth threatened to take command.

But he was left exposed with 20 minutes to go when captain Isaias turned over possession in his defensive half to substitute Keogh, who homed in on goal before sending his low shot past Izzo for his 13th goal of the season.

It meant Perth set a club record with their 15th victory of the campaign.

The pressure is now on their closest rivals Sydney FC to beat Melbourne City on Sunday and get the gap back to six points with five rounds left.

Meanwhile, defending premiers Sydney FC are 19/20 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 3/1 with the draw 5/2.

Sydney are 6/1 to win the game 1-0.

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Kurz kept waiting by Adelaide chairman

Adelaide United coach Marco Kurz has been linked with a move to Brisbane Roar, as he awaits talks on his future with his own club chairman.

Kurz, whose contract is due to expire at the end of May, says he hasn't been able to speak to Piet van der Pol for four weeks.

Van der Pol had previously agreed to open talks with the German about his future at the end of February.

Brisbane appointed Darren Davies as interim coach when John Aloisi quit in December, but the club are planning a long-term appointment once the season is over.

The Roar are out of contention to make the Finals Series, whereas Kurz is on course to comfortably post a top-six finish with Adelaide.

With six rounds left, United are fifth and only behind fourth-placed Wellington on goal difference while Brisbane are next to bottom with just 15 points from 21 games.

Brisbane are reported to have 49-year-old Kurz on their shortlist of serious contenders, having initially had 120 applicants for the job.

He has guided Adelaide to successive FFA Cup finals since his arrival in 2017 – they beat Sydney FC to lift the trophy last year.

Kurz, who has coached the likes of 1860 Munich, Kaiserslautern, Hoffenheim and Fortuna Dusseldorf, took the Reds into the Finals Series last season.

Speaking of his future in Adelaide, he said he was still waiting for a call back from van der Pol after four weeks.

"I have a lot of points to discuss with him," added Kurz. "Not only my personal future…I want to know what is the long term goal for the club, that for me is important.

"Maybe he has another idea (for coach), it's okay, it's part of the job but I have never had this before in my long career as a player and as a coach."

Adelaide United are 16/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Reds are 2/1 to win their next game against Perth Glory, who are 11/8 with the draw 5/2.

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Kilkenny: Teams happy with draw against us

Perth Glory feel Adelaide United might play more positive tactics against them on Friday than they have faced in their last few games.

Neil Kilkenny believes teams have taken an approach against the league leaders that a point would be enough.

With Adelaide having lost their top-four spot last weekend when Wellington Phoenix got a goal difference boost with their 8-2 win against Central Coast, it means United are likely to be chasing victory in the Coopers Stadium clash.

Perth have been frustrated in their past two games, being held to a 1-1 draw at Western Sydney and then drawing 2-2 away to Melbourne City.

It's cut their lead at the top to six points, with nearest rivals Sydney FC doing their best to reel them in and win the minor premiership for a third straight season.

Kilkenny said: "We've found that over the last four, five or six games that teams are happy with a draw against us. Even when we go away from home, they look to stop us from playing instead of actually looking to play themselves to a certain extent.

"That's what we have to deal with at the top of the league and hopefully we can keep pushing, keep progressing and get the three points on Friday."

Coach Tony Popovic says watching A-League rivals play in the Asian Champions League has made him envious and he is determined that Perth will finish the season in top spot so they can earn a guaranteed spot in next year's edition.

"It would be nice to experience what Melbourne Victory and Sydney are this year," said the coach, who guided Western Sydney to the ACL title in 2014.

"We'll do everything we can in our power to bring that experience to our fans and our football club."

Glory are on a 12-match unbeaten run and are yet to lose away from home.

Perth Glory are 13/8 to win the Grand Final.

The Glory are 11/8 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 2/1 with the draw 5/2.

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Striker revels in Sky Blues freedom

Striker Reza Ghoochannejhad is relishing the freedom he has under Sydney FC coach Steve Corica, as he anticipates his first Asian Champions League game for the club.

The Sky Blues, who have won the A-League's minor premiership for the past two seasons, take on Ulsan Hyundai in their opening group game at Jubilee Oval on Wednesday.

For the former Iran international forward it will be a meeting with his former teammate from last season, Dave Bulthuis – the pair played together for Dutch club Heerenveen.

He will go into the match full of confidence, after notching his first goal for Corica's side last weekend when they beat Adelaide United 2-0.

And he says he's loving the licence to express himself that the coach has given him since he arrived on loan from Cypriot side APOEL during the transfer window.

"The coach has given me plenty of freedom on the pitch, especially ball position; I can drop, so that's good to create something to be unorthodox," added Ghoochannejhad. "It's nice to be able to be free, move into spaces where you think there is opportunity – the coach has given me this freedom and I am happy with that."

Speaking of his first goal against United, he said: "I knew the goal was going to come. I wasn't worried about that because we were creating opportunities and we were playing well and I knew the moment was going to come soon.

"Every game is different but I didn't feel pressured at all. From the moment I came here, the coach gave me confidence, my teammates gave me confidence."

Sydney FC are 19/10 to win their next game against Ulsan Hyundai, who are 29/20 with the draw 11/5.

The Sky Blues are 5/2 to win the A-League Grand Final.

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