Popovic loves Glory’s display

Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic savoured his team's 4-0 victory over struggling Brisbane Roar as they took a big step towards securing the Premiers' Plate.

The Glory are nine points clear at the top of the A-League, having taken advantage of Melbourne Victory's draw away to Wellington 24 hours earlier. They breezed past the second-bottom Roar with three goals in the first half, two of them from Andy Keogh.

Jason Davidson had given Popovic's side the lead, while Diego Castro finished off the scoring in the second half.

Popovic, who guided Western Sydney to the premiership in their first season in the A-League, is taking nothing for granted as far as Perth's campaign is concerned.

But he enjoyed the performance his team produced against the Roar, saying: "This coaching, I've been doing it for a little while now and I'm trying to enjoy it more, especially in a game like this.

"We'll all reflect on the game and enjoy some of the great passages of play that we showed and the great football we played, but then it ends and you have to prepare for your next match and that's what the job is. Hopefully we can enjoy more good moments at the end of the year."

The leaders have just finished a run of four home matches in five rounds, collecting three wins and a draw from those games at HBF Park.

Their next home match against Victory on 30th March could prove crucial as far as the Premiers' Plate goes but first they have consecutive trips to take on Western Sydney, Melbourne City and Adelaide United.

Perth Glory are 13/8 to win the Grand Final and 10/11 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 13/5 with the draw 11/4.

Muscat unhappy with spot-kick

Coaches Tony Popovic and Kevin Muscat were at odds over the penalty that helped Perth Glory beat Melbourne Victory 2-1 in the meeting of the A-League's top two sides.

Perth went ahead when they were awarded a penalty, as Neil Kilkenny's pass into the penalty area struck Corey Brown on the hand.

Brown was close to Kilkenny and didn't move his arm or hand, but referee Jarred Gillett pointed to the spot and a VAR referral upheld the decision.

Kilkenny took the spot-kick himself and beat keeper Lawrence Thomas, with the league leaders doubling their advantage eight minutes later through Diego Castro's volley.

Muscat said he'd spoken to Gillett after the game and been told full-back Brown had moved his hand towards the ball.

"Clearly Corey's only a metre away and I've watched the replay – Corey hasn't moved his hand," said the Victory coach. "So what it does do now is any time any ball hits someone in the hand in the box, every team's gonna expect a penalty.

"And that gave them a little bit of momentum and it was a goal that could have been avoided from our perspective."

Popovic, whose team have now opened up a seven-point gap at the top of the table over Victory, said he felt the decision was correct.

"I haven't seen the replay, but I did see it on screen and look, I'm not surprised he gave it," he said. "Once he gave it, I didn't expect it to be overturned, so that was it."

With nine rounds left Perth are in prime position to win their first major trophy since the NSL championship in 2004.

Popovic said it was premature to regard the win as decisive in the battle for the Premiers' Plate, despite it being the Glory's second of the campaign away to Muscat's side.

The Glory are 15/8 to win the Grand Final, with the Victory available at 9/4.

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Popovic tipped to win trophy

Tony Popovic could be on the way to earning his first A-League championship as a coach, believes the keeper who won the Asian Champions League under him.

Ante Covic, who was player of the tournament when Western Sydney became the first Australian team to lift the ACL trophy in 2014, is impressed with the way Popovic has transformed Perth Glory.

The Western Australia club missed out on the Finals Series last season but have topped the table this time since early on.

If they can win away to second-placed Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Sunday it would open up a seven-point gap at the top.

Covic, who played for Perth as well as Wanderers, is backing Popovic to match his achievement with Western Sydney by winning the minor premiership in his first season as coach.

"Popa (Popovic) has got the experience and knows what it takes; this could be his year," he said. "Success is a fine line for a coach but he will have learnt a lot from his years at the Wanderers."

Popovic led Western Sydney into three A-League Grand Finals without success, and Covic said: "You have to ask yourself how many times is he going to be in a Grand Final before one falls for him – I reckon this one could have his name on it."

Perth are unbeaten in eight matches, and beat Victory 3-2 away from home early in the season.

Covic said on form, Sunday's clash would be a Grand Final as the teams were the standouts in the A-League.

"Perth have a very balanced squad and when a coach has a headache picking players that is when you know a team is in a good position," he added. "The firepower that both teams have is by far and away the best in the league."

The Glory are 21/10 to win their next game against Melbourne Victory, who are 5/4 with the draw 5/2.

Glory are 15/4 to win the game by a one-goal margin.

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All still to play for says Popovic

Perth Glory have the chance to open up a seven-point gap at the top of the A-League, but head coach Tony Popovic has warned his team things can change quickly.

The Glory have never won the minor premiership, or even finished as runners-up since the A-League was formed, so they are into uncharted waters.

If they beat second-placed Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Sunday it would open up even more daylight between the teams.

Perth have occupied top spot since round 4 and have already beaten Victory 3-2 away from home.

Popovic said: "We're on top. We certainly deserve to be there – we've shown that, we've been consistent.

"At the moment there's still a lot of work to do. We'd be naive if we don't understand there's a lot of points to be played for and things can change very quickly in football."

The Glory have an advantage over Victory during the run-in, as Kevin Muscat's side will have to play their first Asian Champions League group games alongside the A-League fixtures starting next month.

Perth have only lost once this season, while Victory have done well to come back and challenge for top spot after losing their first two games of the campaign.

Popovic said: "We go there excited by playing such a big team away from home and knowing that we're also a big game for them this week. We've earned that right to have that and we don't want to disappoint them."

The Glory are 21/10 to win their next game against the Victory, who are 5/4, with the draw 5/2.

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Four straight shutouts for Perth

Perth Glory's defence is set to face its sternest test so far next weekend against the defending champions, but they'll feel confident ahead of a trip to Melbourne Victory.

The Glory secured a fourth consecutive clean sheet when they beat Wellington Phoenix 3-0 in the "Distance Derby" at HBF Park.

Main rivals Victory and Sydney FC had sensed a chance to dislodge them from top spot last month when Tony Popovic's side drew 0-0 in consecutive matches against Melbourne City and Adelaide.

Since then, back-to-back home dates have yielded comfortable wins over Newcastle and the Phoenix and with their four straight shutouts Perth have the meanest defence in the league.

Speaking after the Wellington match – in which Andy Keogh took his season's tally of goals to ten – Popovic said: "It was a very good performance and result; it's pleasing that we're backing up the performances."

Asked about the clean sheets, the coach added: "It's a great achievement and I'm delighted for the players and the club – it's not easy to do.

"When you're creating, you're always satisfied and we've always felt that if we continue to create chances, the goals will come. The focus and the intensity was there and we didn't slack off."

Perth, who were a force in the National Soccer League but have never won the A-League championship, have topped the table since Round 4.

With just one defeat in their first 17 games, they head to next weekend's clash with second-placed Victory with a four-point cushion.

Popovic's side won 3-2 away from home in the first meeting of the season between the teams, in Round 2.

Perth are 23/10 to win their next game against Melbourne Victory, who are 23/20 with the draw 5/2.

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Glory blanked again by United

Perth Glory were held to a second consecutive 0-0 draw by Adelaide United, as they failed to make home advantage count at HBF Park.

The Glory now only have a two-point lead at the top of the table, having lost their shooting boots of late.

Tony Popovic's team, who drew a blank away to Melbourne City four days earlier, almost grabbed the three points in injury time.

But when Jason Davidson drilled in a low cross from the left, a diving Joel Chianese narrowly missed making connection from close range.

The Glory's other big chance came from a shot from distance by Dino Djulbic in the first half, which drew a diving save from keeper Paul Izzo.

Djulbic made a crucial block after the break to keep out Craig Goodwin's goalbound effort from near the penalty spot.

Neither side could manage much pressure on goal in the wet and windy conditions.

Popovic, who had made 16 changes to his starting side in the previous three games, made another three against the Reds.

With Andy Keogh and skipper Diego Castro left on the bench, the hosts were less of an attacking force.

Brendon Santalab's acrobatic attempt in the first half easily cleared the bar, and after the break Neil Kilkenny tried his luck from distance but was again too high.

United could have won it in a frantic final few minutes, with substitute Ryan Kitto seeing his shot blocked by a Glory defender.

The stalemate means Sydney FC, who had beaten Wellington Phoenix 1-0 earlier in the day, will have the chance to leapfrog them at the weekend.

Perth Glory are 5/2 to win the Grand Final.

The Glory are 10/11 to win their next game against Newcastle Jets, who are 3/1 with the draw 5/2.

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Reddy: Rotation positive for Glory

Goalkeeper Liam Reddy feels Perth Glory are using squad rotation well at the busiest time of the season.

The Glory have led the A-League table since round 4 and are showing no sign of flagging as the campaign passes the midway point.

Perth have played eight games since the start of December, suffering just one defeat in that time.

It's kept them clear of their rivals, and they have shown resilience after falling to their only loss of the campaign when they went down 2-1 at home to Sydney FC in the last game before Christmas.

The Glory had won four in a row going into Saturday's trip to Melbourne City but had to settle for a point in a goalless draw.

Coach Tony Popovic has made 16 changes to his starting line-ups over the past three games, with of them coming against City in what was the club's first scoreless draw since 2015.

Reddy, though, says the changes have had no ill-effect on the team.

As Popovic contemplates a few more switches for Wednesday's visit of Adelaide United to HBF Park, Reddy said: "Everyone comes in and does the job that's required of them. It's a great luxury to have in terms of having a deep squad and everybody's going to get used through these games.

"It's a positive that players are coming in and doing really well. It shows that we've got a really tight-knit group of players and staff and we're all pushing for the one thing."

The keeper, who is the only Glory player to have started every match this season, expected Adelaide to provide a stern test following their win over Western Sydney.

"Adelaide's a tough team," he said. "Isaias is a key player for them and if we can shut him down it will go a long way to helping us get the three points."

The Glory are 11/10 to win their next game against Adelaide, who are 12/5, with the draw 12/5.

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City earn point against leaders

Melbourne City couldn't close the gap on A-League leaders Perth Glory, as the two sides battled out a 0-0 draw at AAMI Park.

The home side remain nine points behind Tony Popovic's team after 14 games, but go into the second half of the season with credit from holding Perth.

The Glory had won their previous four matches, scoring 15 goals in that spell.

City were able to keep them out with a sound defensive effort, though Perth's Jason Davidson should have scored with the best chance of the game late on.

Davidson blazed over the bar after Andy Keogh had seen his 83rd-minute shot blocked by keeper Eugene Galekovic.

The Glory, who are now four points clear at the top, then survived when Scott Jamieson's speculative cross nearly embarrassed keeper Liam Reddy who was saved by the crossbar.

The teams could only muster one shot on target between them in the first half, though City had an excellent opportunity 11 minutes before the break.

Ritchie de Laet's dangerous cross gave Florin Berenguer the chance to put them ahead from close range but the Frenchman failed to make contact.

Keogh nearly broke the deadlock for Perth in the 58th minute, when former City midfielder Neil Kilkenny put him through on goal. Harrison Delbridge was able to save the day with a superbly-timed sliding tackle.

Popovic said he felt it had been a very good away performance from his team.

"In the end there were some very good away chances – we didn't take them but overall we looked solid, we looked strong and we take a good point away from home," added the Glory coach.

"If we're in this position every year, and coming to Melbourne and the opposition are deemed as underdogs, then I'll take that every day of the week."

Perth Glory are 5/2 to win the Grand Final.

The Glory are 1/1 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 11/4 with the draw 12/5.

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Glory not yet fit enough

They're riding high at the top of the A-League, but Perth Glory still haven't reached the fitness levels coach Tony Popovic is asking of them.

The Glory are three points clear of defending champions Melbourne Victory, with a game in hand, having lost just one of their first 13 matches.

It's a significant improvement from last season when, in Kenny Lowe's final campaign in charge, they finished eighth in the table.

The 4-3 victory they earned last time out against Popovic's former team Western Sydney means that after 13 matches they have picked up 32 points – the same total they managed in the whole of their 27 games in 2017-18.

The team showed their physical conditioning when they came from 3-1 down with 13 minutes left to beat Wanderers on Sunday.

Popovic, though, wants his players to keep improving their fitness levels in the coming weeks.

"I believe we can be a lot fitter; I don't believe we're fit enough yet to play our style of football for 90 minutes," said the coach.

"But that will grow and that will get better. It's not easy to open up and play at all times the way we want to.

"Physically it's very demanding. We've got to keep working on that and improving that, and hopefully the minutes will get longer and longer that we can dominate games."

The Glory are set to bring back midfielder Neil Kilkenny for this weekend's clash with his former club Melbourne City, after he was rested against Western Sydney.

Perth are 5/2 to win the Grand Final.

The Glory are 19/10 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 6/4 with the draw 9/4.

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Glory not yet fit enough

They're riding high at the top of the A-League, but Perth Glory still haven't reached the fitness levels coach Tony Popovic is asking of them.

The Glory are three points clear of defending champions Melbourne Victory, with a game in hand, having lost just one of their first 13 matches.

It's a significant improvement from last season when, in Kenny Lowe's final campaign in charge, they finished eighth in the table.

The 4-3 victory they earned last time out against Popovic's former team Western Sydney means that after 13 matches they have picked up 32 points – the same total they managed in the whole of their 27 games in 2017-18.

The team showed their physical conditioning when they came from 3-1 down with 13 minutes left to beat Wanderers on Sunday.

Popovic, though, wants his players to keep improving their fitness levels in the coming weeks.

"I believe we can be a lot fitter; I don't believe we're fit enough yet to play our style of football for 90 minutes," said the coach.

"But that will grow and that will get better. It's not easy to open up and play at all times the way we want to.

"Physically it's very demanding. We've got to keep working on that and improving that, and hopefully the minutes will get longer and longer that we can dominate games."

The Glory are set to bring back midfielder Neil Kilkenny for this weekend's clash with his former club Melbourne City, after he was rested against Western Sydney.

Perth are 5/2 to win the Grand Final.

The Glory are 19/10 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 6/4 with the draw 9/4.

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