A-League double for Phoenix striker

Roy Krishna is set to be among the most sought-after players in the A-League off-season, after winning the Johnny Warren Medal as the league's top player in 2018/19.

It clinched a competition double for the Fiji international, who had finished two goals clear of Adam Le Fondre to claim the Golden Boot award at the end of the regular season.

Wellington Phoenix want to keep hold of the striker, whose 18-goal tally broke the club record of Jeremy Brockie.

They are understood to have made the 31-year-old a lucrative offer, but he is attracting interest from around the league for a big-money marquee deal.

Krishna becomes the Phoenix's third winner of the Johnny Warren Medal, following Shane Smeltz in 2008-09 and Nathan Burns in 2014-15.

He is reported to have rejected an offer from expansion club Western United, while Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers are also chasing his signature.

Krishna won the player of the season award ahead of Adelaide United's Isaias – who played every minute of his team's 27 games – and Perth Glory's Neil Kilkenny, who were tied for second.

Keisuke Honda of Melbourne Victory, who is leaving at the end of his only campaign with Kevin Muscat's team, was equal-fourth despite only playing 18 goals during the season due to injury.

Despite making the Finals Series under coach Mark Rudan – who has returned to Australia after just one season in charge – Wellington look poised to lose both of the players who won A-League honours.

Keeper Filip Kurto, who was named goalkeeper of the year, is set to link up with Western United.

Ahead of Chris Ikonomidis' bid to win the Grand Final with Perth Glory against Sydney FC this weekend, the Australia international was named the A-League under-23 player of the year.

Glory coach Tony Popovic received the A-League coach of the year award for the second time.

Perth Glory are 4/5 to win the Grand Final.

The Glory are 6/5 to win in 90 minutes, with Sydney FC 9/4 and the draw 12/5.

View all Soccer betting

Muscat likely to rest big names

Coach Kevin Muscat is likely to leave several big names behind when Melbourne Victory travel to South Korea for their Asian Champions League clash with Daegu FC on Wednesday.

Victory will be tempted to send a severely weakened team for their penultimate game in Group F, as they are already out of contention for the knockout phase of the ACL.

The reigning A-League champions must travel to face Sydney FC in next Sunday's A-League semi-final, and they will have one day less than the Sky Blues to prepare for the match.

Though Sydney also face a trip to South Korea, as they take on Ulsan Hyundai, they still retain hopes of qualifying from the group stages.

Speaking of their own dead rubber against Daegu, Muscat said he had some thinking to do about his team selection.

"We're not leaving until Sunday; whether players stay here, staff stay behind, we'll work our what's best for preparation and we'll take it from there," he added.

The coach will want to risk as few of his influential players as possible in Korea, bearing in mind the relative importance of their next two games.

Ola Toivonen, who scored the final goal in Victory's 3-1 elimination final win over Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park, is among the stars likely to stay behind.

Muscat was delighted with his strike, which came after A-League Golden Boot winner Roy Krishna had brought the visitors back into the match at 2-1.

"It was an excellent finish and Ola's been getting better and better and tonight was a really strong performance from him," said the coach.

Speaking of the overall performance of his side, Muscat added: "We created quite a few opportunities and earnt quite a few opportunities and scored some very good goals also.

"It was a contest where there wasn't much love lost out there, there was a battle – as finals are – and from us, I think we also kept our discipline and kept our heads in key moments and from there we exposed some areas that we wanted to try and break them down."

Melbourne Victory are 7/2 to win the A-League Grand Final.

Victory are 21/10 to win their semi-final against Sydney FC, who are 6/5 with the draw 5/2.

View all Soccer betting

Victory set up Big Blue semi-final

Melbourne Victory will face a Big Blue semi-final for the second year in a row after beating Wellington Phoenix 3-1 at AAMI Park.

The defending premiers must travel to Jubilee Stadium to take on Sydney FC on Sunday week to battle for a place in this season's Grand Final.

Kevin Muscat's side had been held to a draw in all three regular season meetings by the Phoenix, but they had the extra quality for the elimination final.

Georg Niedermeier headed them in front just before the break, and former Wellington man Kosta Barbarouses doubled their lead eight minutes into the second half.

Though Golden Boot winner Roy Krishna pulled a goal back for the visitors but their season ended as Ola Toivonen's neat finish restored Victory's two-goal cushion and then they had Michal Kopczynski sent off in the closing stages.

Wellington threatened in the first minute when Krishna fired in a powerful effort that needed a good diving save from keeper Lawrence Thomas.

The home side created some good chances in the first half, with Keisuke Honda's 25-yard effort pushed away by Polish keeper Filip Kurto and Toivonen going close from just outside the box.

The Swedish striker was just unable to find Barbarouses with a cross four minutes before the interval, but almost immediately they broke the deadlock with Niedermeier's second goal of the season.

Honda's set-piece picked out the German defender, who did superbly to head past the dive of Kurto.

Barbarouses was just wide at the far post early in the second half from Toivonen's cross, and the pair combined on 53 minutes to make it 2-0.

Mandi's poor pass was picked up by Toivonen and when he played in the New Zealand international he produced a clinical finish in a one-on-one with Kurto.

David Williams forced a good save from Thomas just before the Phoenix found the net when Krishna tapped in a cross from Sarpreet Singh.

With 19 minutes left Victory made it 3-1 as Toivonen chipped a delicate finish over Kurton from a tight angle after being found by Barbarouses.

Kopczynski picked up his second yellow card for a late foul on Toivonen and Victory almost grabbed a fourth goal when Elvis Kamsoba was denied by Kurto.

Melbourne Victory are 7/2 to win the Grand Final.

Victory are 21/10 to win their semi-final against Sydney FC, who are 6/5 with the draw 5/2.

View all Soccer betting

Troisi ruled out of elimination final

Coach Kevin Muscat has ruled out in-form forward James Troisi for Melbourne Victory's elimination final against Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park.

But the Australia international will still have a part to play for the reigning premiers off the field, and he could be back for the semi-final against Sydney FC if Victory go through.

Troisi has a hamstring injury, which Muscat admitted was a big blow to the team as he is the team's leading assist-maker this season.

"James has pulled up short…he's worked tirelessly to give himself every chance," he said. "He's in good shape but just a little bit too sore.

"James will be given some responsibilities within the group from here on in so he is still contributing in some capacity. I think he has played against Wellington in all the games, he will have some insight into them, being out there."

Muscat is not yet ready to divulge who will be in goal for his team – Lawrence Thomas, the long time No.1, or Matt Acton, the incumbent who has displaced Thomas.

Victory, who have reached the Grand Final in three of the past four seasons, have been unable to beat Wellington this season.

All three meetings have ended in draws, two of them coming in Melbourne.

Muscat's team have had a better season this year than last, gaining 50 points which is nine better than in 2017/18.

But the coach says the statistics don't mean much as they go into the Finals Series, though their previous finals experience does give them a platform for success.

"Having been there before does give you an insight into how the players are feeling and what preparation is needed," said Muscat.

''That's all great and with some knowledge you can prepare in a certain way but the reality is when the whistle goes we have to turn up and be focused."

Melbourne Victory are 11/2 to win the Grand Final.

Victory are 8/11 to win their elimination final against Wellington Phoenix, who are 16/5 with the draw 3/1.

View all Soccer betting

Barbarouses ‘enticed’ by overseas move

New Zealand international Kosta Barbarouses is conscious of being in the shop window when Melbourne Victory go into the A-League Finals Series.

Victory, who won the championship last season, take on Wellington Phoenix in their elimination final on Friday.

For Barbarouses, it will be a clash against the team for whom he played in two spells, including when he broke into the A-League in 2007-08.

The 29-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and admits this could be his last campaign with Kevin Muscat's side.

He finished as the Victory's leading scorer in the regular season with 14, one more than Swedish striker Ola Toivonen.

"[A move] overseas is something that is enticing me at the moment. I can't rule out anything," said Barbarouses. "Instead of being nervous about it, I'm excited about what my options are going to be and what the end situation is going to look like.

"I need to see what Victory can do for me, what I'm worth to them … not saying that in a negative way but that's the way the cap works."

Barbarouses, who is 11 appearances away from the 200-game milestone in the A-League, won his third championship last season with Victory.

He was part of the Brisbane Roar side that won the double of championship and Premiers' Plate in 2010-11, and he helped Victory match that feat in 2014-15.

The Wellington-born player, who has played 47 times for the All Whites, said: "I'm confident there's going to be quite a bit of interest with the season I've had; I know my finals performances are probably going to dictate it. I want to finish on a high and then see what happens."

Melbourne Victory are 11/2 to win the Grand Final.

The Victory are 8/11 to win their elimination final against Wellington Phoenix, who are 16/5 with the draw 3/1.

View all Soccer betting

Krishna set for golden boot

Roy Krishna's hat-trick at Westpac Stadium kept Wellington Phoenix in the hunt for a top-four finish and put him on the verge of winning the A-League golden boot award.

The Fijian striker clinched a 3-2 win over Melbourne City thanks to an injury-time backheel from close range.

Krishna had twice put the home side in front against Warren Joyce's side, only for Riley McGree to level both times.

His treble put him on 18 for the season – two goals clear of Sydney FC's Adam le Fondre going into the final round of the regular season.

The battle for fourth spot in the league, which would secure a home elimination final, is now between Wellington and Adelaide United.

Adelaide, who lead the New Zealand side by one point but have a worse goal difference, will travel to Brisbane Roar for their final fixture while Wellington must go to Western Australia to take on this season's minor premiers Perth Glory.

Phoenix keeper Filip Kurto made excellent saves from Jamie Maclaren and McGree before the home side broke the deadlock. Krishna latched on to Max Burgess' well-timed pass to lift the ball just over keeper Eugene Galekovic.

McGree levelled just before the interval when he found the bottom corner of the net beyond Kurto's dive.

When Krishna restored Wellington's lead six minutes after half-time, firing a powerful effort past Galekovic, it broke the Phoenix's record for most goals in a season set by Jeremy Brockie in 2012/13.

But City hit back when McGree drilled in after Kurto had made two excellent saves.

The visitors almost grabbed a third goal, but Shayon Harrison's free-kick rebounded off the crossbar.

And it looked as though the Phoenix's chances of finishing fourth were gone, until Krishna reacted quickly to stab the ball home from close range four minutes into added time.

The Phoenix are 16/1 to win the A-League Grand Final.

View all Soccer betting

Rudan staying through playoffs

Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan remains focused on guiding the club through the Finals Series before departing, his boss has insisted.

Phoenix general manager David Dome said the club had given no consideration to replacing the Australian at this point, despite him announcing officially last Friday that he would step down at the end of the season.

His departure has been expected for some time, with the coach having spoken of how difficult it has been for him personally while his family remained in Sydney.

He is expected to be unveiled as the inaugural coach of Western United when they enter the A-League next season.

The Phoenix squad only found out in the hours leading up to Friday's defeat to Brisbane Roar that Rudan would be utilising the eight-week notice out-clause in his two-year contract.

Despite their loss at Suncorp Stadium, the club have made sure of finishing in the top six.

Rudan has become the first coach in Phoenix history to guide the club to the playoffs in his first season.

"Over the last couple of weeks it has got more and more obvious that it was unlikely that his family was going to move across the ditch to Wellington, so the middle of last week we reached the conclusion where it was probably in everybody's best interests to end the speculation and move on so we can start planning for the rest of the season and next season," said Dome.

Though Wellington have lost their last two games, Dome said the speculation over Rudan's future had not been a factor.

"We respect Mark, we respect what he has done here and we believe he is the coach to take us through to the final," he added. "In my conversations with Mark and in my conversations with the players and the football ops team they are adamant that it [his departure] has not contributed at all.

"I can assure you they're still very focussed on that and Mark is very focussed on that and everyone at the club is focussed on that."

Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce is understood to be among the candidates to take over from Rudan.

Wellington Phoenix are 25/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Phoenix are 7/5 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 9/5 with the draw 12/5.

View all Soccer betting

Phoenix set to lose coach Rudan

Wellington Phoenix suffered a big low to their chances of a top-four finish when they lost 2-1 away to Brisbane Roar.

The defeat came hours after it was reported that coach Mark Rudan would be leaving at the end of the season.

Rudan would not confirm his departure after the match, but he is expected to switch to expansion club Western United and an official announcement is due on Monday.

The Australian coach had admitted publicly he was finding it extremely difficult to be separated from his family, who live in Sydney.

Speaking after the game at Suncorp Stadium, Rudan said his players had been award of his plans since early last month.

"What's important with the speculation is that once it started I was very upfront and honest with my football club and with my players as well," he said.

"Everyone knows at the football club what's going on. It was known before we scored a record number of goals in three games (15)."

The Phoenix needed to beat the ninth-placed Roar to cement their place in the top four, but instead completed an unhappy Australian tour which had seen them go down 3-1 at Adelaide United last week.

Their remaining two matches are against Melbourne City and then away to leaders Perth Glory.

Brisbane scored twice in the final eight minutes of the first half, Frenchman Eric Bautheac netting both.

He played a one-two with Nick D'Agostino to set up his first, ending the move by beating defenders Andrew Durante and Michal Kopczynski before firing past keeper Filip Kurto.

Bautheac had an easy tap in for his second, when Dylan Wenzel-Halls' cross found him at the far post.

Wellington pulled a goal back eight minutes into the second half when Steven Taylor headed home from a corner.

The visitors missed two late chances, substitute Cillian Sheridan crashing a shot into the post and David Williams shooting wide of an empty net.

Meanwhile, Perth Glory are 4/9 to overcome Newcastle on Sunday. The Jets are 6/1 while the draw is 10/3.

View all Soccer betting

Rudan: It’s not panic stations

Coach Mark Rudan believes Wellington Phoenix's chances of finishing in the top four are still in their own hands after the 3-1 loss to Adelaide United.

The New Zealand side conceded three times in the first half at Coopers Stadium and couldn't rescue the situation despite having an extra man for the whole of the second half.

Reds striker Apostolos Stamatelopoulos, having scored twice, was sent off in injury time at the end of the first half for a studs-up challenge on Mandi.

United changed their formation after the break to try to protect their lead, going on to earn a win that brought them level with the fourth-placed Phoenix.

Wellington, though, have a six-goal advantage in goal difference. It is effectively a seven-goal gap as they have scored 11 more than Marco Kurz's side. There are only three rounds remaining and both teams only have one home game left.

It is a three-way battle for fourth spot – which would secure a home final – as Melbourne City are only one point behind.

Rudan said: "We still have a better goal difference and the goals we scored in the last three games, it's why we are in this position. It's in our hands, it's not panic stations."

Wellington's goal difference was boosted when they won all three of their games last month, scoring a combined 15 goals and conceding just four.

Rudan was disappointed that, after scoring in the opening minute of their 4-1 win over Newcastle last week, they produced a poor first half in Adelaide.

"We got beaten inside the first 45 minutes, it's as simple as that. We went to sleep … probably the worst 45 minutes that we've played this season," added the coach.

"Three crosses, three goals. Three shots on target, three goals – you've got to give them credit for it."

Wellington Phoenix are 20/1 to win the Grand Final and 10/11 to win their next game against Brisbane Roar, who are 13/5 with the draw 14/5.

Krishna back for Adelaide trip

Leading scorer Roy Krishna will be back for Wellington Phoenix when they face Adelaide United on Sunday.

The 15-goal striker missed last week's 4-1 home win over Newcastle Jets through suspension but is set to return alongside David Williams, who scored a hat-trick against the Jets.

Steven Taylor is expected to be back from injury to partner captain Andrew Durante in the centre of defence at Coopers Stadium.

Krishna had scored three goals in two games before being banned, while Williams has now netted five times in his last three matches.

Coach Mark Rudan believes there is still room for improvement in his side, having been disappointed with their display in the first half against the Jets.

"I wasn't really happy with that because I thought they were able to pick out passes and break our first line quite easily," he said.

"But overall, particularly in the second half, we decided to play a bit more on the counter-attack, knowing that we had that one-goal lead and they had to come at us and take some risks.

"We just ripped them to shreds, absolutely ripping them to shreds in the second half and you look at 20 shots, eight to one I think it was on target."

The Phoenix are reportedly set to lose Polish goalkeeper Filip Kurto at the end of the season to expansion club Western United. The 27-year-old has made more saves (80) than any other keeper in the A-League this season.

Wellington have been linked with New Zealand international keeper Stefan Marinovic, who is currently with Bristol City on an injury cover deal.

The Phoenix's back-up goalkeeper Oli Sail is also among the 15 out of contract players.

Wellington Phoenix are 16/1 to win the Grand Final and 11/4 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 19/20 with the draw 11/4.