Hyundai A-League Season 6

Underwater Derby draw
By Andrew Demack

A-League - 2010/2011 Season - Round 20
6:15pm, Sunday 26 December, 2010
at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Brisbane Roar FC 2
(Kosta Barbarouses 30’, Solorzano pen 66’)
drew with
Gold Coast United FC 2
(Dino Djulbic 13’, Robson 55’)

(Linked from FFA site)

It was a soggy Sunday night at Suncorp Stadium, but the festive season still served up a football feast, as title favourites Brisbane Roar just failed to end their hoodoo against local rivals Gold Coast United.

Miron Bleiberg and Ange Postecoglu keep saying nice things about each other in press confererences, and Jason Culina and Matt McKay might be paired up in the heart of the Socceroos midfield next month, but at least the local fans are doing their best to drum up a rivalry.

Gold Coast supporters group “The Beach” made their way up the M1, and added to the atmosphere at the ground, their presence spurred local groups to new heights of both profanity and volume in response.

All day and all evening the warm rain was teeming down. The pitch was brand new, re-laid after the U2 concert, and the joins in the turf were still visible. Which is more than you could say for the line markings. Just before kick-off the ground staff were frantically re-marking the ground, and again at half-time, and then farcically after the ref stopped play at the 82nd minute.

But the match itself? A Christmas cracker.

The Roar started with their usual high tempo. The soggy conditions and the new surface did not seem to hamper their passing game, and Mitch Nichols and Kosta Barbarouses in particular were on song, with delicious close control skills on display.

The game was only three minutes old when Matt McKay burst clear down the left, but he couldn't pick out Solorzano with his low cross.

Then in the 5th minute, Barbarouses twisted and turned and nudged the ball to Solorzano, who found him with a superb return pass. Glen Moss was alert to the danger, advanced quickly and got down low to deny Barbarouses.

But for all Brisbane's brilliance, it was the visitors who took the lead after 13 minutes. Gold Coast have height and strength, and good delivery into the box at set pieces. It was from a half-cleared free kick that the opening goal came. The ball came out to Traore on the left, who set in a wicked head-height cross to a packed penalty area. Dino Djulbic at the near post got the diving header, and it was a classy and brave piece of work.

This was Gold Coast at their most effective. After soaking up the pressure from the home team, they were in the lead, despite rarely keeping for the ball for more than four or five passes in a row.

Brisbane's success this season has been built on their resilience, however. The patient passing build-up continued and continued, and in the 29th minute, Kosta Barbarouses deservedly scored the equaliser.

The highlights on television will show the last two passes before this goal, with McKay finding Nichols on the edge of the box, and Nichols threading an inch-perfect ball into the path of Barbarouses, who finished high over Moss. But it won't show the 10 minutes of domination which led to the goal, including one brilliant save from Moss at the feet of Solorzano.

McKay, Broich, Paartalu, Nichols, Barbarouses, Franjic and Stefanutto. The Roar passing machine is so effective at firstly retaining the ball, and secondly probing for a weakness. Yes, they are mobile, yes they run hard, but the most exciting part of this style, is how composed these young men are with the ball at their feet.

As Ange Postecoglu said about his side in the press conference, “they are led superbly by the bloke sitting next to me”, waving his thumb at McKay.

Because this team are so effective at keeping possession, it seems like they should be creating more chances, and scoring more goals. This might be true if, as Adelaide coach Rini Coolen suggested earlier in the season, we were comparing them to a top-flight team in Europe.

But Roar are playing A-League, and in this competition they are making plenty of chances, but not putting all of them away. Postecoglu refused to admit to a wastefulness in front of goal, preferring to focus on the good performance of his team.

The scores were level at half-time, but as the second period started, Roar again looked the more likely to take the game. Kosta Barbarouses once again had the Mitch Nichols assist to put him in the clear, but this time his first touch deserted him. Then Thomas Broich fed Matt McKay inside the box, but Moss's reflexes once again saved the day. McKay set up Barbarouses, but Djulbic got in the way to deflect the shot, with Moss beaten this time.

But suddenly it all went wrong again for the Roar in the 54th minute. Gold Coast on the counter attack fed Robson, who beat the covering tackle of Matt Smith, and slid the ball through Theoklitos's legs, for a 2-1 lead.

Brisbane equalised in the 66th minute, with a penalty taken by Jean Carlos Solorzano. Barbarouses won the penalty, later described by Bleiberg, with some justification, as “soft”.

But Brisbane continued to press for the winner. It's wrong to say that only one team looked likely to win the game, because twice against the run of play the Gold Coast had taken the lead. But the Roar's style is to dominate possession and territory, and they did this for the last 30 minutes, without finding the winning goal.

There were very good chances to both Broich and Barbarouses. In the first instance, the German managed to just chip the ball agonisingly wide when through one-on-one with Moss, and in the second, the Kiwi miscued when set up on the edge of the area by Broich.

But I suppose a draw was a reasonable result. Both coaches were positive in their post-match press conferences. Gold Coast at least played to their strengths, and Moss and Djulbic had immense games.

Culina was surprisingly anonymous throughout, and if Gold Coast had a goal threat in the first half it came more from Joel Porter than anyone else. Djite failed to impress, and Robson's only contribution was the goal, impressive as it was.

On my reading of this game, both sides will expect to figure in calculations during the finals. Brisbane Roar have one hand on the premiership plate already, and with Adelaide going through a bad patch, it will only take the current level of consistency for Brisbane to win its first silverware and qualify for the Asian Champions League. Beyond that, the local fans are thirsty for good football over the next couple of months leading into the finals season.

This game was the first shot in the battle leading up to the finals. The next encounter between these two teams could have a lot more riding on it. I can't wait.

Brisbane Roar FC 2
(Kosta Barbarouses 30’, Solorzano pen 66’)
drew with
Gold Coast United FC 2
(Dino Djulbic 13’, Robson 55’)

    Crowd: 13,065


    Brisbane Roar FC :
    Player listing:
    1.Michael THEOKLITOS [gk], 2.Matt SMITH, 3.Luke DEVERE, 4.Shane STEFANUTTO (23.Milan SUSAK 78’), 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 6 Erik PAARTALU, 7.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 9.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO (14.Rocky VISCONTE 73’), 15.Matt McKAY (c), 17.Mitch NICHOLS (8.Massimo MURDOCCA 66’), 22.Thomas BROICH
    Substitutes not used: 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 23. Milan SUSAK

    Coach: Ange Postecoglou

    Yellow Cards: Smith 41’, Susak 90'+5
    Red Cards: Nil

    Gold Coast United FC :
    Player listing:
    1.Glen MOSS [gk], 3.Michael THWAITE, 5.ROBSON (16.Kristian REES 78’), 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 10.Jason CULINA (c), 11.Bruce DJITE (26.Ben HALLORAN 87’), 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 14.Joel PORTER (2.Steve PANTELIDIS 62’), 22.Adama TRAORE, 24.John CURTIS
    Substitutes not used: 20.Scott HIGGINS (gk)

    Coach: Miron Bleiberg

    Yellow Cards: Thwaite 33’, Curtis 65’, Traore 88’
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Chris Beath 7/10 (mostly unnoticed)
    Assistant referees: Denis Silk, Graham Buzzi; Fourth official: Matthew Gillett

    Pitch rating: 5/10 (but considering the rain we've had, astonishingly good) (Ed. 'amazing drainage')

    Game rating: 8/10

    BOTN Player Points :

    3. Dino Djulbic (GC)
    2. Kosta Barbarouses (BR)
    1. Glen Moss (GC)

    Match Report by Andrew Demack

Disclaimer: The content of this report is the responsibility of the writer. Stats are either as recorded by the writer at the game, or as supplied by FFA, or a mixture - no responsibility can be taken for their compete accuracy although we do strive for that. Any photos used here, unless attributed, are as supplied by FFA and used by permission.

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