It’s the Berisha show as Brisbane stay top

Pantelidis and Berisha do battle. (From Brisbane Roar Facebook page)

Pantelidis and Berisha do battle. (From Brisbane Roar Facebook page)

By ANDREW DEMACK

Brisbane Roar 1 (Besart BERISHA 57’) defeated Perth Glory 0
Saturday, 30 November 2013

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Brisbane Roar handed out a 1-0 thumping of Perth Glory at Suncorp Stadium last night, maintaining its momentum at the top of the A-League table.

Brisbane dominated the game throughout, but the combination of excellent last-line defence from Perth, and some waywardness in front of goal meant that one goal was all they could muster up for the scoresheet.

In that context, Besart Berisha was surely the man of the match, yet again. The goal, when it came in the 57th minute of the match, was all about his skill, persistence, and desire.

Brisbane had found enough space to work in, inside the Perth penalty box on many occasions. But only on this occasion did Berisha peel away from his marker, receive the pass, stepover and shimmy past Pantelidis and drive a low shot across Vukovic into the net.

On so many other occasions Thomas Broich and Matt McKay, and especially Corey Brown, had got into advanced positions in the box and received the ball, but couldn’t find space for the shot or pick out a team-mate with the final pass.

Perth started the match missing the experience of Jacob Burns and the star-power of William Gallas.

Brisbane were also missing Michael Theo and Jade North.

It seemed that Perth’s injured soldiers were a greater loss than Brisbane’s. The Glory tried a 3-5-2, with Michael Thwaites in the middle of defence, and Steven McGarry in the heart of midfield. At times it seemed those two were defending Perth’s goal like Spartans at Thermopylae, in the face of overwhelming numbers.

Brisbane started the game brightly, with James Donachie taking North’s spot in defence and debutant Matt Acton in goal. Acton had to sprint out early on to intercept a Perth through ball, which got him in the game. Donachie was excellent throughout in this game, and his tussle with Perth striker Jamie MacLaren was always lively.

So although Brisbane dropped straight into their home rhythm, of pressing the opposition high up the pitch, and playing their passing game through the midfield, there were not many clear chances in the first half.

Perth sat pretty deep, and relied on the faint prospect of the long ball counter attack as their only offensive weapon. In midfield, Ryan and Cameron Edwards were buzzing around, but being largely ineffective at linking up with MacLaren and Shane Smeltz.

Smeltz went off with an ankle injury after 34 minutes, and even though he had looked laboured and slow for most of the game, much of Perth’s game plan must have hinged on the combination threat that Smeltz and MacLaren posed to the Brisbane back four.

At home, the Brisbane fullbacks play a long way up the field, as over-lapping wingers. Brisbane commit more players forward in attack that most teams, and Perth would have been hoping for a few 2-on-2 counter attacks.

The scores were level at half-time, despite good shooting chances for Henrique (twice), Franjic and Berisha.

Just before half-time, Perth had a good spell, forcing Brisbane into conceding a series of corners. From one set-piece, Michael Thwaite’s header was cleared off the line by Luke Brattan, with Acton beaten.

The second half was following the same script, and the level of anxiety in the home fans was almost beginning to rise, before Berisha grabbed the lead just before the hour-mark.

A 1-0 lead doesn’t remove the anxiety, and the game on a few occasions seemed likely to bubble up, as referee Tim McGilchrist had an unfortunate match. The tackles and the yellow cards were flying.

But most of the interest was in whether Brisbane could add to its lead. It seems, that even with the introduction late in the game of Kwame Yeboah and Dimitri Petratos, that they couldn’t.

Brisbane Roar 1 (Besart BERISHA 57’)
Perth Glory 0
Saturday, 30 November 2013
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 4.30pm
Crowd: 12,308

Brisbane Roar: 2. Matthew SMITH (c), 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 7. Besart BERISHA (29. Kwame YEBOAH 71’), 10. HENRIQUE (23. Dimitri PETRATOS 80’), 15.James DONACHIE, 17. Matt McKAY, 18. Luke BRATTAN, 19. Jack HINGERT, 20.Matthew ACTON (gk), 22. Thomas BROICH, 26. Corey BROWN

Substitutes not used: 14.Diogo FERREIRA, 28. Brandon BORRELLO, 33. Fraser CHALMERS (gk)

Yellow cards: Matt McKAY 39’, Besart BERISHA 45+3’, Corey BROWN 50’

Red cards: Nil

Perth Glory: 1. Daniel VUKOVIC (gk), 2. Jack CLISBY (25. Riley WOODCOCK 77’), 4. Ryan EDWARDS, 5. Steve PANTELIDIS, 6. Cameron EDWARDS, 8. Ryo NAGAI, 9. Shane SMELTZ (17. Chris HAROLD 35’), 10. Jamie MACLAREN, 14. Steven McGARRY, 16. SIDNEI Sciola Moraes, 23. Michael THWAITE

Substitutes not used: 3. Brandon O’NEILL, 18. Jack DUNCAN (gk), 24. Matthew DAVIES,

Yellow cards: Ryan EDWARDS 33’, Jack CLISBY 40’, Steve PANTELIDIS 85’

Red cards: Nil

Game: 7/10
Pitch: 5/10 … day-long rain, but the surface held up OK
Referee: Tim McGilchrist 4/10

Best players
3 – Besart Berisha (BR) … made the real difference
2 – Michael Thwaite (PG) … stopped the avalance
1 – James Donachie (BR)