Fowler insists high-flying Roar must remain laser focused
Robbie Fowler believes Brisbane Roar’s mentality needs to be unwavering – no matter how many supporters are in the stadium – for their surge towards the Hyundai A-League Finals Series to continue.
Scott McDonald’s goal deep into first-half stoppage time proved enough to inflict the Central Coast Mariners’ ninth straight defeat in front of less than half of the attendance that turned out for the 3-1 win against Western Sydney Wanderers a week earlier.
Fowler admits he understands supporters’ concerns about gathering in crowds during attempts to contain the COVID-19 coronovirus pandemic, a situation Football Federation Australia addressed on Friday.
The 1-0 win against the Mariners lifts the Queenslanders to fourth place on the ladder following a run of four wins in six matches and the 44-year-old insists his players will not let any change in environment impact on their end goal in the 2019/20 campaign.
“It is nice when you get bigger crowds but I think people are nervous,” Fowler said.
“They don’t want to be in crowds in close proximity to other people.
“It is what it is. We can’t let that effect us.”
“We’ve played games in front of a lot more people, and we train every single day with less people there.
“We’re all aware of why the crowd was low and it is what it is.
“People are nervous so we can’t let that affect us, we’ve just got to go out there and play the way we can.”
Roar controlled 55% of possession and led the shot count 16 to 11 in a match they shaded as McDonald was awarded a goal after the VAR confirmed the striker stayed onside to convert Brad Inman’s driven cross in the 47th minute of the first half.
The veteran frontman had originally been flagged offside, but he was able to celebrate his third goal in two games before Roar laboured through the second half to claim all three points and continue their strong form.
“I think it was better than last week because we’ve won the last game,” Fowler said.
“As much as we need to go out there and play – the object is to get three points.
“At times it wasn’t pretty but, what I will say, is I think Central Coast came here and they made it extremely hard.
“With our lads being extremely patient, [we got] a little bit of luck with the goal.
“It was well worked in terms of getting it out wide and getting it across but there’s inches in it. It’s worked in our favour this time, but I think it’s a great win for us.”
The defeat brings Central Coast one game closer to matching an unwanted club record of nine consecutive losses.
That stretch, during in the 2018/19 season, brought the end of Mike Mulvey’s reign and resulted in Stajcic being appointed – but, despite the dark cloud hanging over the Gosford side, the Mariners coach believes his team are staying united in the face of adversity.
“The evidence is the match,” Stajcic said. “The heart and the spirit were there, the effort were there.
“We’re trying as hard as we can, all of us together as a group. It’s just natural you’ve got to come from a lower confidence base.
”I think the boys showed enough today to show how competitive we are.
“Brisbane have been on a good run and we showed we can be competitive against anyone.”
He added: “There wasn’t much in the game. It’s a game of inches sometimes and [on Friday] it certainly was.”
Melbourne Victory v Brisbane Roar
Sunday, 22 March
Kick-off: 6pm AEDT
Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne City
Friday, 20 March
Central Coast Stadium
Kick off: 7.30pm AEDT