Robbie Fowler’s Brisbane Roar fought back from 3-1 down to beat Man City‘s sister-club Melbourne City 4-3 on Sunday, for his first A-League win.
The Liverpool legend took over the Roar in April, ahead of the new campaign which began with a 2-0 victory over league champions Sydney FC in the FFA Cup in August.
After their exit from the tournament at the next stage, Brisbane began the league season in poor fashion, with an overhaul of personnel over the summer leading to two losses and two draws in the first four games.
But hosting table-toppers Melbourne this weekend, Fowler presided over a remarkable clash that eventually saw his side overturn a two-goal deficit to emerge unlikely victors.
The visitors opened the scoring within six minutes through Jamie Maclaren, who would go on to seal his hat-trick soon after half-time, with his second and third goals sandwiching one for Brisbane through Roy O’Donovan.
Having been under pressure for much of the first half, it was Fowler’s switch to a three-man back line at the break that helped turn the tide, having already made one substitution before half-time.
There was no shortage of VAR controversy as Alex King waved away a penalty for the Roar in the first half, only to award them one after a handball was spotted in the second.
O’Donovan converted that spot-kick, which sealed his own hat-trick and ultimately the victory, after scoring his second just after the hour mark to add to a Aaron Amadi-Holloway strike.
The win lifts Brisbane away from the foot of the table into seventh, with a trip to bottom-placed Wellington Phoenix to come next weekend.
It was a result that clearly meant a lot to Fowler, who opted to cut his teeth as a manager in Australia to prove himself the hard way, rather than awaiting opportunities in England based on reputation.
“If you didn’t know that our players and this team has character, then we showed it in abundance in that second half,” he said after the game.
“It was quite incredible. To score four goals against the league leaders shows that we have a little bit about us.”
Melbourne City were bought by the City Football Group in 2014, changing their name from Melbourne Heart, and Sunday’s side included ex-Liverpool youngsters Dean Bouzanis and Craig Noone.