Hyundai A-League - 2011/2012 - Season 7

Brisbane see off Wellington to go second
By Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 19
5pm, Sunday 12 February, 2012
at Westpac Stadium, Wellington NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 0
lost to
Brisbane Roar FC
(Besart Berisha 42', Mitch Nicholls 80')

(linked from FFA web site)

The guile and style of reigning Hyundai A-League champions Brisbane Roar proved too much for Wellington Phoenix at a sun-drenched Westpac Stadium on February 12, with 13,009 fans turning up to see the title-holders triumph 2-0 in this battle between the second- and third-placed teams.

And a battle it was, particularly in the first half, in which caution reigned. Chances were at a premium as Brisbane dominated possession, much to the frustration of the home side.

The opening fifteen minutes saw an Ivan Franjic effort deflected to safety, while Leo Bertos couldn’t beat Michael Theoklitos at his near post after being put through by Paul Ifill. And Mark Paston raced out of his goal to save at the feet of Thomas Broich, who was his usual influential self throughout proceedings for the champions.

The finish Alex Smith produced just after the half-hour mark, after Ifill had picked out Tim Brown who’d set up his midfielder with the most deft of back-heeled flicks, pretty much summed up the first forty-five minutes as a whole, the ball flying high, wide and far from handsomely over Brisbane’s goal.

But a Brisbane goal was the game’s main talking point during the interval, with the one which broke the deadlock four minutes prior to the break being of the highest order.

It came out of nowhere, Erik Paartalu lofted the ball forward, and Besart Berisha, darting into the inside left channel, allowed the sphere to drop over his shoulder before expertly steering an angled first-time left foot volley across Paston and in by the far post from the edge of the penalty - it was an exquisite strike, and one Brisbane’s dominance fully merited.

And it meant Wellington had to come out of their containment-minded shell in the second half and take the game to the visitors, something they did with relish. Just four minutes into half, Chris Greenacre sent Ifill surging through with a pass from half-way, and the striker held off the challenge of Shane Stefanutto before drawing a solid blocking save to his right from Theoklitos.

Seven minutes later, Dani Sanchez squandered a glorious opportunity to level matters with a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area, but Brisbane’s build-from-the-back approach came a cropper from the resulting goal-kick, allowing Greenacre the chance to unleash a volleyed lob from thirty yards with Theoklitos scrambling. He was relieved to see the ball pass narrowly wide of the target.

Brisbane’s ‘keeper was called upon again just after the hour mark to tip away Leo Bertos’ teasing cross-shot after he made great in-roads down the left flank. The visitors instantly launched a counter-attack, Broich and Massimo Murdocca combining to set up an opening for Henrique which he fired wildly wide.

Many of Wellington’s efforts to drag themselves back into the contest were foundering on classy Brisbane defender Mohamed Adnan, who was calmness personified throughout this encounter.

In the 64th minute, he brought the ball out of defence, linking with Murdocca who, in turn, brought the menacing Broich into play again. The German’s surging run culminated in a twenty yard drive which crashed into the hoardings.

Wellington pressed again, Tony Lochhead tearing down the left before firing in a cross which Vince Lia headed straight at Theoklitos. The recalled defender - playing in the absence of the suspended Manny Muscat - was fortunate to avoid injury in the 67th minute when Brisbane captain Matt Smith thankfully failed to connect with an over-the-top tackle.

He was rightly booked, unlike Ben Sigmund a few minutes later for a challenge similarly poor in both its timing and execution. The Wellington defender was to finish the game prematurely, however, hobbling off with a suspected hamstring strain.

Before he did, Paston produced a super save to turn a Paartalu piledriver to safety, after substitutes James Meyer and Mitch Nichols had combined in the 68th minute. Four minutes later, Broich picked out Paartalu with a free-kick which the midfielder headed straight at Paston, who was relieved to see the action swing to the other end of the park over the course of the next few minutes.

While Theoklitos greedily grabbed Ifill’s deflected volley following a cross from Daniel, he was far less authoritative when dealing with a Sanchez cross in the 74th minute, after the Spaniard had combined with Lochhead to prise open Brisbane’s right flank once more.

With Brown fast approaching, Theoklitos made like a windmill in the Brisbane penalty area, so much so that the retreating figure of Broich was stunned to see the ball carry on through and ricochet off him inches past the post - it could so easily have been an own goal about which the Brisbane man would have known very little.

What Broich does know, and at which he is decidedly adept, is the art of unlocking an opposing defence. He was at it again eleven minutes from time, caressing a beautifully weighted pass into the stride of Murdocca, whose pull-back fell just behind the incoming figure of Berisha.

Brisbane had just seconds to wait to seal the match - and the goal was worth the wait, too. Nichols and Meyer worked their way down the right, with the overlapping figure of Franjic also contributing to an attack which culminated in Nichols curling a gem of a twenty-yarder home inside Paston’s near post to seal the deal for the visitors.

Despite being 2-0 down, Wellington continued to seek a way back into the match, Theoklitos producing a fine blocking save to thwart Ifill six minutes from time after he had taken on the Brisbane defence with a surging run from half-way.

But the visitors weren’t to be denied, with Broich seeing Paston tip his effort onto the crossbar seconds later, while Nichols saw another effort deflected to safety before full-time, Berisha instrumental in both opportunities.

A timely Andrew Durante challenge halted Meyer’s jinking run towards the penalty area prior to Nichols’ effort, but Wellington’s captain had already talked himself into a booking, and both he and Brown - harshly booked by inconsistent referee Jarred Gillett in stoppage time - will be absent for Wellington’s visit to leaders Central Coast Mariners next Saturday, suspension meaning the Kiwi contenders will be hard-pressed to maintain their recent away form.

They could ill afford to lose this home encounter either, but lose it they did, by a 2-0 scoreline which allowed Brisbane to leapfrog the beaten team on the standings and close to within five points of the table-toppers, who have a game in hand.

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 19
5pm, Sunday 12 February, 2012
at Westpac Stadium, Wellington NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 0
lost to
Brisbane Roar FC
(Besart Berisha 42', Mitch Nicholls 80')

    Crowd: 13,009


    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Mark Paston (gk), 3. Tony Lochhead, 6. Tim Brown, 7. Leo Bertos (11. Daniel +63’), 8. Paul Ifill, 9. Chris Greenacre,17. Vince Lia, 18. Ben Sigmund (14. Mirhan Pavlovic +78’), 21. Dani Sanchez, 22. Andrew Durante (c), 24. Alex Smith

    Substitutes not used: 19. James Downey, 20. Tony Warner (rgk)

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Vince Lia (28’), Andrew Durante (85’)
    Red Cards: Nil

    Brisbane Roar FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Michael Theoklitos (gk), 2. Matt Smith (c), 3. Shane Stefanutto, 5. Ivan Franjic, 6. Erik Paaratlu, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 10. Henrique (21. James Meyer +68’), 16. Mohamed Adnan, 22. Thomas Broich, 24. Nick Fitzgerald (17. Mitch Nichols +63’)

    Substitutes not used: 20. Andrew Redmayne (rgk), 12. Matt Mundy

    Coach: Ange Postecoglou

    Yellow Cards: Mohamed Adnan (37’), Shane Stefanutto (50’), Matt Smith (68’)
    Red Cards:Nil

    Referee: Jared Gillett 3/10
    Assistants: Hakan Anaz, Mark Rule; Fourth Official: Adam Kersey

    BOTN Player Points:
    > 3. Mohamed Adnan (BR)
    2. Thomas Broich (BR)
    1. Paul Ifill (WP)

    Pitch rating: 8/10

    Game rating: 6/10

    Match Report and ratings: By Jeremy Ruane

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 implicitly supplied by FFA and used by assumed permission.

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