Brisbane win in convincing style

By Corinthian (Paul Green):

Hyundai A-League – Season 11 – 2015/2016 – Round 17
7:40pm, Saturday 30 January, 2016  – Sydney Football Stadium

Sydney FC 1 (Corona o.g. 52)
lost to
Brisbane Roar FC 3 (Jamie Maclaren 8′, 76′ Matt McKay 66′)


On a Saturday night when the heavens opened before the start of the game, Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar played out an entertaining match on a pitch that took an absolute beating in the first-half and then provided a far more favourable surface that allowed for a decent second period, in terms of displaying football skills, but certainly not in providing the right result for the Sky Blues.

Brisbane Roar began the game with such attacking purpose, that they had the home defence under immense pressure from the opening whistle and after some narrow escapes for the locals, the visitors quickly got their noses in front.

They went on to win 3-1, in convincing style, having played good, counter-attacking football for the most part and certainly showing no lack of positive intentions in this important fixture on which a great deal hinged.

After two very poor results Brisbane were motivated to win this one and despite the pouring rain and swirling wind, which created all kinds of problems for both teams before the break, the team coached by John Aloisi clearly adapted the better and was the more motivated.

The team’s key players were skipper Matt McKay, full of drive and energy and going box-to-box for the entire 90 minutes, involved in most of the chances created and scoring once himself, Dimitri Petratos, back to haunt his former club, as he’d done a year or two earlier when scoring a rare hat-trick and Corona, showing marvellous poise on the ball and, despite scoring an own goal, putting in an exemplary performance.

Sydney’s team selection allowed for the return of Olyroos Alex Gersbach and Andrew Hoole, with the latter having little joy, but the former being the one bright spark in the Sky Blues team on this occasion.

Later it was revealed that this was Gersbach’s last game for the club, a deal with a Norwegian club having been organised during the January transfer window.

Hoole may also be leaving soon, to make way for the possible signing of returnee David Carney, in an exchange deal that was nervously anticipated by fans, with the huge gap left by the departure of Gersbach demanding immediate filling.

Brisbane leapfrogged Sydney to move into second spot, following this win and played like a team that’s good enough to challenge for the title.

Beginning like an express-train they stretched the Sydney defence fully over the opening minutes and the vulnerability of the home team looked alarming during that first torrid spell, which came during an absolute deluge that continued for the full duration of the first-half.

Thankfully it abated after the half-time break, otherwise the pitch could have become unplayable to some degree.

Fortunately it didn’t come to that and the ball was still moving faithfully over the newly-laid surface during that opening 45 minutes, with Brisbane responsible for some very effective movement of the ball, in conditions that required the respectably large crowd of 12,548 to shrink back under any cover they could find to avoid the elements, the Cove apart, who stood their ground and got a thorough soaking.

Brandon Borrello almost punished a mistake by Sydney defender, Jacques Faty, just over a minute into the match, when the latter put his keeper, Janjetovic, under unnecessary pressure with an under-hit back-pass, that the Roar player almost got to first.

It soon became clear that it was the visitors who were adapting better to the tropical downpour conditions, perhaps as Brisbane’s own weather can be very similar to this during the summer months.

While Borrello was unable to get to the ball first, it was only six minutes later, after Matt McKay had shaved the post from a Thomas Broich pass that had put him in behind the Sydney defence, that Brisbane struck for the first time.

Broich, again, was the man doing the creative work, as he sent in-form striker Jamie Maclaren through to face Janjetovic.

The Olyroos’ striker may have been out of luck in Qatar, but back on Australian soil he was soon on the scoresheet again.

His eighth minute finish across the keeper, from an awkward angle on the left, was first-rate and the keeper was well beaten.

The other keeper, Michael Theo, who’s not started every game for Roar this season, showed his true worth, just before that opening goal, when he came out smartly to deny Sydney youngster George Blackwood, who looked set to speed through and score his first goal for the club.

Once again he couldn’t manage one and many were wondering if perhaps a more experienced striker, like Shane Smeltz or Matt Simon, might have been more effective, given the strength of the opposition and the trying conditions.

Smeltz did come on for Blackwood later, but was unable to make an impact, with comeback man, Ali Abbas, also playing the last half- hour, but unable to turn the game around as he had a few weeks back against Newcastle Jets.

The Brisbane team looked every bit the title-contenders, while Sydney were unconvincing and had to withstand a lot of Brisbane pressure for most of the game.

Players like Filip Holosko and Milos Ninkovic were up against a powerful midfield in coach John Aloisi’s side, all of whose members chose this game to play to their full potential.

Matt McKay was everywhere, covering every inch of the pitch, Corona was winning tackles and distributing passes effortlessly, while ex- Sydney FC wide man, Dimitri Petratos, was absolutely on fire and became a major thorn in Sydney FCs side on this occasion.

It looked like Brisbane would control the game right from the start and that’s exactly how it turned out.

The only blemish came in the 52nd minute when an Alex Gersbach free-kick caused some trouble in the Roar goalmouth and Corona inadvertently diverted the ball into his own net.

Somehow that didn’t look like a potential turning point in the game and Brisbane soon recovered.

Petratos, who was highly competitive and obviously motivated to a higher degree than usual, burst away on the right in the 66th minute and got past his man to reach the by-line.

He’d been sent away by 58th minute substitute Henrique, whose impact was immediate and who gave the Sydney team a lot to do over that remaining half-hour or so.

The cross that came from Petratos was like a tracer bullet and under normal circumstances one would expect it to be impossible for anyone in the penalty-area to reach, such was its speed and venom.

But Roar captain, McKay, thought otherwise and arriving at the far-post met the ball with a header that powered past Janjetovic.

“That was a great cross from Petratos,” enthused Brisbane coach Aloisi, post-match, “and a great finish by Matty. A header too! He doesn’t score with his head very often.

Of course McKay is not the tallest player in the Roar side, but he’s definitely the most energetic and driven player, doing most of his no-nonsense work without any great flamboyance. On this occasion he was Brisbane’s best, in an outstanding all-round team performance.

Thomas Broich, who shook off an early knock, also had another strong game, belying his 35 years, to help his side to the three richly-deserved points.

Petratos was involved in the third Brisbane goal in the 76th when he played Henrique through from his own half, to set up Maclaren for his second of the game, a virtual tap-in from the low cut-back by Henrique.

A one-handed save from Janjetovic denied Roar a fourth goal, Petratos laying on a pass fro Henrique to test the keeper, who this time was able to spare his team’s further blushes.

Gersbach aside, Sydney were not on their game at all. They are missing skipper, Alex Brosque, badly, not only as a leader on the field but as a late-career main striker.

The defence, for whom Seb Ryall made way for the returning Gersbach, struggled to deal with a Brisbane attack, strong already and boosted even further by the contributions of Corona, Petratos and McKay, with MacLaren doing everything a top-notch striker needed to and Broich putting in his usual big shift.

Sydney coach Graham Arnold had few excuses post-match, but did explain that a three-day turnaround from the team’s last match in Melbourne on the Tuesday had left his players fatigued and that their legs looked heavy from the opening whistle.

The sodden pitch did his players few favours either.

“Brisbane came with a plan and it worked for them,” he said. “We were flat,” he concluded.

Match details

Crowd:  12,548

Sydney FC:  1. Vedran JANJETOVIC;  23. Rhyan GRANT, 19. Jacques FATY, 5. Matt JURMAN, 3. Alex GERSBACH;  7. Andrew HOOLE (Ali ABBAS 60), 13. Brandon O’NEILL (8. Milos DIMITRIJEVIC 70), 27. Mickael TAVARES,  21. Filip HOLOSKO; 10. Milos NINKOVIC, 24 George BLACKWOOD (9. Shane SMELTZ 70)

Subs not used: 20. Ivan NECEVSKI, 2 Seb RYALL,
Yellow cards: Rhyan Grant 60; Red cards: Nil

Coach: Graham Arnold

Brisbane Roar: GK 1.Michael THEO; 19.Jack HINGERT, 13.Jade NORTH, 15 James DONACHIE, 5.Corey BROWN; 7.CORONA, 17 Matt McKAY,  23.Dimitri PETRATOS; 22.Thomas BROICH (Javier HERVAS 86), 28.Brandon BORRELLO (10 HENRIQUE 58,  9.Jamie MACLAREN (8.Steven LUSTICA 77)

Subs not used: RGK 21.Jamie YOUNG, 14.Daniel BOWLES
Yellow cards: Dimitri Petratos 51, Corey Brown 65; Red cards: Nil

Coach: John Aloisi

Referee: Peter Green 8/10
Assistants: Allyson Flynn and Andrej Giev; Fourth Official: Matthew Cropper

Points and ratings

Match 7/10
Referee 8/10
Pitch 7/10

Player points:
3.  Matt McKay (BR)
2.  Dimitri Petratos BR)
1.  Corona  (BR)

By Corinthian

Photo: Jaime Castaneda