'We're pushing for top two': Brisbane raise the stakes as they plot Wellington takedown
Brisbane Roar players, coaches and fans alike are dreaming of a top-two finish after they secured a 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory at Bankwest Stadium on Wednesday night.
The slender result took Brisbane to 38 points, just two points off both Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne City who sit in second and third place respectively on the Hyundai A-League table.
The Roar will now prepare for a clash with the Phoenix before facing off with newly-crowned Premiers Sydney FC in their final game of the 2019/20 regular season.
Speaking after his 100th Hyundai A-League game in Brisbane Roar colours, Corey Brown said ending the campaign in second spot was no longer a faint dream, but a genuine target he and his teammates would push for between now and the season's end.
"They’re a strong side, Victory, so obviously they came home pretty strong and we held [them] off," Brown told FOX Sports post-match.
"We did our job and got the three points, that’s all we needed.
"We’re pushing for top two, it’s still possible for us, so if we keep the wins going then I don’t see why not.
Brown's ambition to rise further up the Hyundai A-League table is far more than an individual goal as displayed by the sentiments shared by Roar striker Scott McDonald, who spoke of his desire to carry strong form into the 2019/20 Finals Series.
McDonald, who put Brisbane ahead with a headed goal born out of sheer will to be the highest climber in a pack of Victory defenders, says when his side play the way they did against the Victory, they'll be near-on impossible to match.
"It’s a great marker for us isn’t it?" McDonald said when pondering the prospect of facing the Phoenix and Sky Blues in their remaining fixtures.
"The best two teams you’d probably have to say on merit this season so far, so we’ll see how we get on.
"But we gave as good as we got against those two in recent games as well so we go into it full of confidence.
"We fully believe we’re as good as anyone in this league. When we control games like we did in the second half, we’re a real threat.
However eager the McDonald may be to sink his teeth into the challenges that lay ahead for the Roar, the 36-year-old - who scored his fifth goal in as many games for Brisbane against Victory - was quick to point out how important it was for his side to bounce back from their loss to Adelaide and keep pace with the leaders of the pack.
"It was crucial to get three points," he said.
"You see a lot of other teams playing a lot of games at the moment and we haven’t got many [left], so it’s nice to get that little buffer again, and first win for the new manager as well which is always important.
"We didn’t control the game first half, I think we were a bit disappointed with that.
"I thought Melbourne Victory gave as good as they got in the first half but we controlled the second half, got in front, got two-nil up and then we made it hard for ourselves with that one at the end, but we’ve seen it out, that was the main thing."
Although a spot in the top six is not an absolute certainty for Brisbane yet, Roar boss Warren Moon - who took charge of just his second game as Brisbane Head Coach - has encouraged his players to attack the challenges ahead with genuine vigour as the regular season draws to a close.
"I said to the boys we should be looking up, not looking down," Moon said.
"Tonight’s result gives us great confidence going into those games [against Wellington and Sydney], so we’ll attack those games head on."
- Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners
When: Monday, 3 August
Where: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off: 7.30pm (AEST)
- Western Sydney Wanderers v Wellington Phoenix
When: Friday, 31 July
Where: Bankwest Stadium
Kick-off: 7.30pm (AEST)