Roar extend lead with win over Reds

by Corinthian (Paul Green):

Hyundai A-League 2013/14 season, Round 9
6:45pm, Friday 6 December, 2013 – Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide

Adelaide United FC 1
(Osama Malik 7′)
lost to
Brisbane Roar FC 1
(Besart Berisha 21’ (pen), 72′)

They played with belief and a very real sense of adventure against the hot favourites, Brisbane Roar, and struggling Adelaide United went close to holding the A-League leaders in front of the Reds’ own fans at Hindmarsh Stadium.

An early goal lifted their confidence and they managed to edge the Queenslanders, marginally, during the first half, only for an unfortunately ill-judged tackle by wing-back Tarek Elrich to allow visiting Roar back in the game, during the latter stages of the first-half.

Roar did not lack self-belief themselves and both teams attacked with purpose, relying on good goalkeeping and last-ditch defending, allied to poor finishing by their opponents, to remain in contention for most of the game.

Chances should have been put away by Adelaide in the first-half, especially, but the striker’s instincts of the Roar’s Besart Berisha was, in the end, what stood between the two well-matched teams on the night.

There were stand-out players on both sides, the two-goal scorer for Brisbane clearly one of them, if not the only man to earn the plaudits.

Adelaide had big defender and former Roar stalwart, Jon McKain, back partnering the gangling Osama Malik, who was the man on the spot to give United the lead.

Apart from the penalty, put away so expertly by the vastly experienced Berisha, both of the goals in open play, one to either side, were close-range opportunistic strikes, ultimately, even if the lead-up work already had held promise.

Malik reacted quickest to a bouncing ball, cleared hastily off the Brisbane line, allowing him to stoop and head it past understudy keeper, Matthew Acton, who rarely put a foot wrong all evening.

As Adelaide rode their luck in holding Brisbane, who threatened constantly, especially down the left flank, much was also created going forward for Spaniard Josep Gombau’s men.

But while timely tackles enabled Adelaide to keep a clean sheet for at least the first 20 minutes of the half, poor finishing, rather than expert Brisbane defending, meant that the Reds could not add to their early lead.

Instead, a spurt into the penalty area, down the left, in the 21st, with a likely intention to cross from the by-line, by Roar’s winger Corey Brown, invited an unwise tackle from Elrich, who could have simply held his man from going any further, rather than diving in.

Inevitably the penalty-kick was put away by the clinical Berisha and the tone for second-half was set.

Adelaide had to re-group and recover their earlier self-confidence, before Brisbane could capitalise.

Alas, for them, even with gilt-edged chances presenting themselves, they could not regain the lead they had lost so unnecessarily.

A more ruthless and determined Brisbane, epitomised by Berisha’s 72nd minute winner, meant that Adelaide again failed to produce a result, although many would argue that they gave Roar as big a scare as anyone has since they made their surge up the table to first.

A late call for a penalty, when Adelaide man, Malik, was challenged in the area and went to ground, fell on the deaf ears of referee Peter O’Leary, who had an uneven game, in the opinion of this writer.

But post-match the ‘victim’ admitted that he had made the most of the tumble in stoppage-time and it wasn’t a penalty, even if team mates argued vehemently post-match with the man blowing the whistle.

Adelaide’s Coach Gombau was frustrated with two glaring misses by his men as well as some other chances his side spurned and declined to discuss the referee other than to say the usual which is that we have to abide by the decisions made, even if we don’t agree with them.

Roar’s Mike Mulvey, as is his style, was not too excited by the win, other than being pleased to pick up three points to go six points clear, overnight at least, pending Western Sydney Wanderers’ hosting of Melbourne Heart at Parramatta Stadium the following night.

A corner from the right in the seventh minute caused some confusion in the Brisbane ranks and the ball as hastily cleared, but it failed to go further than a few yards and was slightly airborne.

Malik was eight yards out and instinctively stuck out his neck to head the ball past a flat-footed Roar defence and earn his side a morale-boosting early lead.

But all the early promise came to naught, after Brown skipped past a static United defence to work his way towards the goal-line, ten yards out.

Elrich chased him through, beaten for pace already, but might have been able to prevent the cross, but dived in and calamity ensued.

Fabio Ferreira could have restored the Adelaide lead in the 38th minute, having been sent through for a one-on-one, but his touch let him down and he fired too close to keeper Acton, who made what looked like a great save, with his legs, but which was aided by the lack of composure on the part of Ferreira.

Brisbane edged Adelaide for possession in the second period having lagged behind in the first.

The Albanian Berisha was in his element chasing every half-chance as his team mates rode the wave of hopeful and sometimes skilful and lively Adelaide attackers.

Berisha pushed his way through the middle, riding several tackles, but with two Adelaide men grappling him for the loose ball, six yards out, he was able to stab the ball beyond them both and past a helpless Eugene Galekovic. It was a poacher’s goal, par excellence.

Adelaide coach Gombau threw on the wiry Awer Mabil, who cut a good swathe through on the right flank, as well as Jeronimo Neumann, who both made solid contributions, if out of luck.

The latter chased a ball through and won the race against keeper Acton in the 89th, but could not get his head to the ball well enough to do better than nodding just wide, with the keeper beaten.

Bruce Djite had a strong game after returning to the side, before being replaced by Jeronimo, while Lustica was always creating something with his insightful passes.

Unfortunately the likes of Sergio Cirio and Ferreira in particular could not make the best of those tasty offerings.

Most of Cirio’s attempts went narrowly wide and proved a let-off for Brisbane, who were definitely let off the hook, on this occasion.

But against a side as good as Brisbane Adelaide did enough to suggest a return to winning form won’t be too far away and if Djite continues to show similar application in coming matches and the others can discover their latent striking skills, we could soon see the South Australians at last rewarding Gombau for his faith in them and in his Barcelona-inspired approach.

It should also be said that Brisbane’s two substitutes, Liam Miller and Kwame Yeboah, both impressed and caused enough trouble to keep Adelaide’s midfielders pre-occupied with holding them rather than mounting all-out attacks, at least until the dying stages of what had proved to be an absorbing match.

Match details

Crowd: 8,861

Adelaide United FC: 1. Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 4. Jonathan McKAIN, 5. Osama MALIK, 8. ISAIAS, 9. Sergio CIRIO, 10. Marcelo CARRUSCA, 11. Bruce DJITE (7. Jeronimo NEUMANN 63’), 13. Steven LUSTICA, 18. Michael ZULLO, 21. Tarek ELRICH, 22. Fabio FERREIRA (17. Awer MABIL 69’)

Substitutes not used: 12. Antony GOLEC, 19. Jake BARKER-DAISH, 30. John HALL (gk)

Yellow cards: Bruce DJITE 60’, Sergio CIRIO 90’+3

Brisbane Roar FC: 20. Matthew ACTON (gk), 2. Matthew SMITH (c), 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 7. Besart BERISHA (29. Kwame YEBOAH 77’), 10. HENRIQUE (11. Liam MILLER 57’), 15. James DONACHIE, 17. Matt McKAY, 18. Luke BRATTAN, 19. Jack HINGERT, 22. Thomas BROICH, 26. Corey BROWN

Substitutes not used: 14. Diogo FERREIRA, 23. Dimitri PETRATOS, 33. Fraser CHALMERS (rgk)

Yellow cards: Jack HINGERT 90’+2

Ratings and points

Referee: Peter O’Leary 6/10
Game 8/10
Pitch 7/10

Player Points:
3. Besart Berisha (BR)
2. Steven Lustica (AU)
1. Bruce Djite (AU)

By Corinthian (from TV)