Hyundai A-League - 2012/2013 - Season 8

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Roar stumbling in to 2013
By Andrew Demack

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 14
7:30pm, Tuesday 1 January, 2013 (NYD)
at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Brisbane Roar FC 2
(Besart BERISHA 14’, Ben HALLORAN 59')

Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Jeremy BROCKIE 37')

Brisbane Roar moved into finals contention with an unconvincing 2-1 home win over Wellington Phoenix, at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane last night.

Goals in either half to Besart Berisha and Ben Halloran for the home team outweighed a smashing strike from Jeremy Brockie for the visitors, in a low-standard match marred by uncertain refereeing.

Brisbane coach Mike Mulvey left 150-game veteran Massimo Murdocca on the bench, preferring the attacking drive that Mitch Nichols provides.

However, if this writer were picking the side, Murdocca and Nichols would both find a home in midfield, Broich would be pushed up into the forward line (on the left of the pointy end of the 4-3-3), and Henrique would be the one warming the bench.

There are all sorts of perfectly valid reasons why the defending A-League champions have not been winning with the same regularity this season. But one very real factor has been the poor form of top striker Besart Berisha.

And at the start of this game it seemed like Berisha woes would continue. In the 10th minute a swift one-touch passing move from the Roar opened Wellington Phoenix up like a machete opening up a watermelon. Henrique won the ball, played a one-two with Broich, Henrique found Paartalu who fed it on to Berisha in hectares of space inside the Phoenix penalty area. But Besart only managed to shoot straight at a grateful Paston.

In the 13th minute, an even nicer, crisper passing move sliced through the Phoenix like a jigsaw through balsa wood. Smith to Stefanutto out wide, Stefanutto first-time to Broich in the inside-left channel, Broich with one searing pass finds Berisha inside the box, but the striker failed to control the ball and it bobbled away.

I was still texting a complaint about Berisha’s dire form to a friend when it all came good. Broich robbed Durante of the ball, and fed Berisha. This time Berisha skinned the other centre back Sigmund and poked it past Paston.

In the previous couple of seasons, home fans would have expected Roar to go on and post another couple of goals before half-time. And certainly Brisbane continued to have chances. But Berisha’s bad form, and some dithering around the edges of the box by all the Roar attackers (Henrique and Halloran the worst offenders) mean that Roar never pressed home their advantage.

Then just before half-time, the Phoenix drew level. Jeremy Brockie got the ball in a promising position, the Roar defence held off, so he unleashed a rocket that rocketed (that's what rockets do) into the top right corner of the goal. It takes a good hit to beat Michael Theo from distance, but the best keeper in the league had no chance with this one.

So the deadlock at half-time.

Even so, Brisbane were favourites to come out in the second period and win. Mostly because although the champions are way down on form, and are moving the ball too slowly, and are dithering outside the box, and Besart Berisha can’t seem to find the corners of the goal anymore, there were only playing Wellington.

Despite all Brisbane’s obvious deficiencies, Wellington on the road were simply dire. Not just lacking attacking spark, but lacking any sort of playmaker or playmaking ability, any sort of passing game, and any sort of way of creating scoring opportunities other than lump it in the general direction of Brockie and hope he does something magical.

This match was not a great advertisement for the A-League. Thank heaven we have the likes of Shinji Ono and Marco Rojas lighting it up in other games.

But Brisbane did come away with the win, despite Berisha and even Thomas Broich spurning good chances int he second half.

Just before the hour mark, Broich broke down the left. He had time to cut inside and pick his target in the box. It was Berisha, and he laid it off to Halloran to shoot. On this occasion the young winger was successful, tucking his low shot into the left corner of the goal, with Paston stationary.

The end of the game was marred by two silly second yellow cards, leading to the send offs of Tyler Boyd (Phoenix) and James Donachie (Roar). The referee did not have the best of nights, but fortunately none of the dubious non-calls made a difference to the outcome.

Brisbane are on the move. Not on the march, yet.

A couple of weeks ago, after the Roar-Perth game, this writer was ready to call for Berisha to have a week or two off. Not dropped, but rested. He is clearly not as match-fit as he needs to be, especially leading into finals and then Asdian Champions League qualifiers.

But then I watched a Roar Youth League game, and realised that neither of two other potential centre forwards that Brisbane has in the squad would provide any improvement.

So carry on, Berisha. And pick yourself up. We know what you can do, we’ve seen it.

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 14
7:30pm, Tuesday 1 January, 2013 (NYD)
at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Brisbane Roar FC 2
(Besart BERISHA 14’, Ben HALLORAN 59')

Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Jeremy BROCKIE 37')

    Crowd: 11,358


    Brisbane Roar FC :
    Player listing:
    . Michael THEO (gk), 2. Matt SMITH (c), 3. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Besart BERISHA, , 10. HENRIQUE (24. Nick FITZGERALD 60’), 11. Ben HALLORAN (4. Matt JURMAN 86'), 15. James DONACHIE, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 22. Thomas BROICH,

    Substitutes not used: 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 20. Matt ACTON (rgk)

    Coach: Mike Mulvey

    Yellow Cards: James DONACHIE 39’, 85’, Erik PAARTALU 41’, Besart BERISHA 75'
    Red Cards: James DONACHIE 85'

    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2.Manny MUSCAT (6. Alex SMITH 76’), 3.Tony LOCHHEAD, 7.Leo BERTOS, 11.Jeremy BROCKIE, 12.Tyler BOYD, 16.Louis FENTON (10.Stein HUYSEGEMS 70’), 17.Vince LIA, 18.Ben SIGMUND, 21.Dani SANCHEZ (9.Benjamin TOTORI 68’), 22.Andrew DURANTE (c)

    Substitutes not used: 30. Griffin McMASTER

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Tyler BOYD 45+1’, 63'
    Red Cards: Tyler BOYD 63'

    Referee: Tim McGilchrist 4/10

    BOTN Player Points: (no one was good enough for 3)
    > 3. Ivan Franjic (BR)
    2. Jeremy Brockie (WP)
    1. Shane Stefanutto (BR)

    Pitch rating: 8/10

    Game rating: 5/10

    Match report and ratings: By Andrew Demack

No photos this time

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