Stunning late winner fires Brisbane past Wellington

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League 2013/14, Round 16
7pm, Friday 24 January, 2014 – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Brisbane Roar FC 2 (Devante Clut 50′, Luke Brattan 87′)
Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (Stein Huysegems 36′)

Hyundai A-League leaders Brisbane Roar scored a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over a game Wellington Phoenix combination on 24 January at Suncorp Stadium, where the 13,889 fans present were treated to a stunning winner five minutes from time.

It came at the tail end of a lively affair between two teams who respectively enjoyed spells of dominance at varying times in the match, despite the slippery surface on which they played.

Brisbane were quick to get into the stride, Thomas Broich jinking this way and that before engineering the space from which he picked out Dimitri Petratos with a peach of a cross. The striker guided his unchallenged header wide of the mark from in front.

That second minute effort was followed four minutes later by some enterprising play from debutant Devante Clut. He neatly controlled a throw-in before turning and holding off the challenge of Andrew Durante, prior to stinging Glen Moss’ gloves with a twenty-yarder.

Ben Sigmund prevented Henrique from capitalising on a Luke Brattan cross from the by-line seconds later, sparking a Wellington counter-attack which saw Michael Boxall and Albert Riera combining to release Tyler Boyd down the right. Michael Theo raced out and just won the contest for the ball near the edge of his penalty area.

For the next thirty minutes, Wellington ran the show. Boyd, Stein Huysegems, Jason Hicks and Jeremy Brockie combined splendidly in the eleventh minute in a move which culminated in Vince Lia letting fly from twenty yards.

His angled grass-cutter flew past the diving figure of Theo, only to crash against them base of the far post and ricochet to safety – a real let-off for Brisbane.

Six minutes later, Sigmund broke up a Brisbane move before linking with Lia, who picked out Brockie’s run inside off the left flank.

Theo smothered his tame effort, while Jade North stepped in to deny Huysegems seconds later as the visitors kept up the pressure, despite the absence of their two Costa Ricans, Carlos Hernandez and Kenny Cunningham.

Brisbane were also without key personnel, and it showed as they came under siege from a Wellington team which scented blood. Huysegems latched onto a loose ball and promptly fed Boyd on the right. When it came, his cross bisected the run of the striker and Sigmund – quite what he was doing so far forward remains a mystery!

Just before the half-hour mark, Wellington came within inches of scoring the goal their dominance merited. Hicks combined with Huysegems, who controlled the ball well before returning the compliment to the midfielder in this 27th minute raid.

Hicks let rip from the edge of the area with a sweetly struck half-volley which had ‘bottom far corner’ written all over it until Theo plunged to his left to pull off a superb one-handed stop, turning the ball round the post to keep his side on level terms.

Brisbane were enjoying their fair possession, but their lack of attacking penetration was more than made up for by Wellington’s efforts in that third of the pitch.

After a Brockie free-kick had been cleared in the 32nd minute, Riera and Hicks combined to link with the set-piece taker, whose low-struck first-time volley produced a sharp reaction save from Theo to ensure parity was maintained once more.

It couldn’t last, however, and nine minutes before half-time, Wellington took a richly deserved lead. Brockie picked out Boyd on the right before racing inside for a return pass.

When Boyd delivered it, Brockie miscued his shot, but it fell perfectly into the stride of Huysegems, who was lurking on the far post, and gleefully stepped in between the diving figure of Theo and North to prod home the goal the visitors richly merited.

That was akin to a slap in the face for Brisbane, who instantly stepped up their game. Petratos forced a solid parried save by Moss from twenty yards in the 38th minute, four minutes after which Clut and Brattan combined on the right, with overlapping fullback Jack Hingert benefiting from their industry.

He got to the by-line and picked out Henrique, unmarked in the goalmouth, with just Moss to beat and the goal no more than four yards away. A goal, surely? Amazingly, he didn’t even hit the target!

That was a let-off for Wellington, who heeded the warning by blocking another effort from Henrique seconds later. The final act of the half was from Broich, who brilliantly evaded two challenges before unleashing a dipping twenty-five yarder which Moss just managed to tip onto the bar and away from the top corner, whence it was bound.

Wellington began the second spell brightly, with both Lia and Brockie chancing their arm from distance – Theo only had reason to save the latter’s effort. But when Brisbane launched their first attack of the half, five minutes into it, they were celebrating, and with good reason – ‘twas a cracking strike!

Broich, inevitably, played a part in proceedings, picking out Henrique’s diagonal run towards the near post after stepping inside off the left. The Brazilian’s chested lay-off invited debutant Clut to control the ball, then unleash a stunning volley which sizzled past Moss en route to the back of the net – what a goal to score in your first match!

That was the cue for the home team to dominate proceedings, but only after Broich and Wellington’s half-time substitute, Leo Bertos, were both booked for diving. Only the visiting player’s yellow card was merited.

Broich channelled his frustration at this yellow card into the task of prising open the visitors at every opportunity. His 58th minute brilliance saw him fashion some space where none existed in the penalty area to deliver a gorgeous cross to the far post. But once again, the unmarked figure of Henrique failed to do justice to the chance – easy pickings for Moss.

Two minutes later, Petratos broke up a Wellington raid and sent Henrique racing through the inside-right channel. Moss scampered out of goal and managed to execute a blocking clearance outside his penalty area.

The ball rebounded to Petratos, who was following up, but was unable to direct his long-range effort on target as Moss beat a hasty retreat back towards his own goal.

The offside flag came to Wellington’s aid in the 67th minute as Petratos was denied a goal as he nipped in to tuck home the rebound, Broich and Henrique combining to present Diogo Ferreira with a chance which Moss could only parry.

Ferreira came within inches of scoring with a drive four minutes later, after more enterprising play by Broich, while substitute James Donachie wasn’t far away when picked out by Brattan’s 73rd minute corner.

The home team continued to press, but again, Henrique spurned a good chance with just Moss to beat eight minutes from time.

Seconds later, Petratos’ shot was parried by the goalkeeper, with Henrique latching onto the rebound near the by-line.

His cross was headed out by Durante to an area some thirty yards out from goal, seemingly clear of danger. Brattan had other ideas, however. Striding onto the ball, he hit the most sweetly struck controlled volley of his career – think Steven Gerrard’s equaliser in the 2006 FA Cup Final, only closer to the target – to send the ball soaring past Moss and crashing into the net via the post with five minutes remaining.

Brattan will never score a better goal in his life, but Wellington weren’t prepared to let it be the winner. As the game entered stoppage time, fullbacks Manny Muscat and Boxall combined, the latter’s enterprising raid culminating in a shot which rattled the side-netting, a feat Bertos matched moments later after being picked out by Lia.

But time was Wellington’s enemy, and when referee Chris Beath blew the final whistle, the visitors’ recent run of good form came to an end, much to the relief of Brisbane, who edged even further clear at the top of the table after this come-from-behind 2-1 victory over opponents who, on this showing alone, are well in contention for a play-offs berth.

Match details
Crowd: 13,889

Brisbane Roar FC: Theo (gk); Hingert (Donachie +64′), North, Smith, Stefanutto; Clut (Ingham +72′), Brattan, Ferreira (booked, 41) (Borrello +86′); Petratos, Broich (booked, 52), Henrique

Wellington Phoenix FC : Moss (gk); Boxall, Sigmund, Durante, Muscat; Lia, Riera, Hicks (Caira +79′); Boyd (Bertos +46′ (booked, 57)), Huysegems, Brockie (Krishna +67′)

Points and ratings

Match 8/10
Referee: Chris Beath 6/10
Pitch 6/10

Player points:
3. Tomas Broich (BR)
2. Riera (WP)
1. Luke Brattan (BR)

By Jeremy Ruane