R24: Last-Gasp winner clinches first place for Brisbane

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

Hyundai A-League – Round 24 Review

A last-gasp thunderbolt from Luke Brattan earned Brisbane Roar a 1-0 win over second-placed Melbourne Victory at Suncorp Stadium on March 22, and, more importantly, minor premiership honours in the Hyundai A-League.

17,965 fans cheered as the Premiers’ Plate was held aloft by captain Matt Smith after the final whistle, but it was a hard-earned triumph by Brisbane, who found Melbourne goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas in the form of his life throughout proceedings.

He made a string of saves which kept the home team scoreless until second half stoppage time, by which time Melbourne themselves could well have clinched all three points, Costa Barbarouses and James Troisi both having gone close to breaking the deadlock ten minutes before half-time.

Western Sydney Wanderers, Brisbane’s predecessors as Plate holders, took advantage of Melbourne’s loss to climb back into second place on the table, their 3-0 defeat of Perth Glory at Pirtek Stadium extinguishing the remote play-off hopes held by the bottom-placed club.

Urged on by 12,128 fans, the home team could have been out of sight long before Jerome Polenz finally broke the deadlock three minutes before half-time. The goal broke Perth’s resistance, and after yet more missed chances, Mark Bridge finally doubled Wests’ advantage on the hour mark.

Substitute Tomi Juric wrapped up the win twelve minutes from time in this one-sided affair, with Perth giving the distinct impression that the end of the season cannot come soon enough for those way out west.

Central Coast Mariners made it a bad weekend for the Victorian clubs by topping Melbourne Heart 2-1 at AAMI Park, coming from behind to do so after Orlando Engelaar struck a “goal of the season” contender to open the scoring for the home team eleven minutes before half-time.

Latching into the ball inside the centre circle in his own half, the Dutchman unleashed a beautifully flighted chip which soared over the head of Liam Reddy and ended up one bounce into the net, much to the amazement of the 5,418 fans present.

It deserved to be the match-winning goal, but sadly for Melbourne Heart, the reigning champions had other ideas. Kim Seung Yong equalised in first half stoppage time, while substitute Bernie Ibini-Isei clinched the points thirteen minutes from time to allow Central Coast to draw level with Melbourne Victory, who hold third spot by virtue of having scored more goals than their New South Wales’ rivals.

Adelaide United kicked off the weekend’s action by downing Sydney FC 3-1 at Coopers Stadium, a result which ultimately saw the beaten team drop out of the play-off spots, having begun the round in fifth place.

The team immediately below them on the table seized the initiative in the thirteenth minute of this at times temperamental tussle, Marcelo Carrusca setting up Fabio Ferreira’s opening goal.

The match turned ugly around the half-hour mark, with a flurry of bookings in an eight-minute spell sparked by a crude tackle on Adelaide’s playmaker, who answered back in the best manner possible – by setting up a second goal for Sergio Cirio ten minutes into the second spell.

Sydney substitute Matt Thompson dragged his team back into the contest fifteen minutes from time, but the bulk of the 14,212 present were delighted when Bruce Djite restored Adelaide’s two-goal advantage with three minutes remaining.

Newcastle Jets fired themselves back into the play-off placings on goal difference from Sydney by walloping Wellington Phoenix 5-0 in front of 9.483 fans at Hunter Stadium, the third time in six games that the beaten team has shipped five goals in a match.

There was little indication that this clash of teams just outside the play-off placings would end up being so one-sided, with Emile Heskey’s first goal in over a year, struck ten minutes before half-time, all that separated the combatants at the interval.

Within a minute of the second spell, Newcastle had doubled their lead through Joel Griffiths, and Wellington were never at the races thereafter. Adam Taggart bagged a brace of goals to take the outright lead in the Golden Boot race – he now has thirteen for the campaign – while the home team saved the best for last, literally, Mark Bridges’ sumptuous volleyed finish the last kick of the game.

Next week’s action kicks off with Brisbane entertaining Victorian opposition at Suncorp Stadium for the second time in six days – it’s Melbourne Heart’s turn to visit the top dog’s lair on Friday night.

Saturday’s fare sees Central Coast and Western Sydney locking horns at Bluetongue Stadium, prior to the clash of Melbourne Victory and Sydney at AAMI Park. And on Sunday, Wellington welcome Adelaide to Westpac Stadium before NIB Stadium plays host to Perth and Newcastle.

Match details:

Adelaide United FC 3 (F. Ferreira (13), S. Cirio (55), B. Djite (88)) – Sydney FC 1 (M. Thompson (74)) HT 2-0

Brisbane Roar FC 1 (L. Brattan (90)) – Melbourne Victory FC 0; HT 0-0

Melbourne Heart FC 1 (O. Engelaar (34)) – Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (K. Seung Yong (45), B. Ibini-Isei (77)); HT 1-1

Newcastle Jets FC 5 (E. Heskey (35), J. Griffiths (46), A. Taggart (57, 77), M. Bridges (90)) – Wellington Phoenix FC 0; HT 1-0

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 3 (J. Polenz (42), M. Bridge (61), T. Juric (78)) – Perth Glory FC 0; HT 1-0

P W D L F A GD Pts

Brisbane Roar 24 15 3 6 40 21 +19 48

Western Sydney Wanderers 24 10 8 6 29 24 +5 38

Melbourne Victory 24 10 6 8 35 39 -4 36

Central Coast Mariners 24 10 6 8 28 32 -4 36

Adelaide United 24 9 7 8 42 32 +10 34

Newcastle Jets 24 9 5 10 29 30 -1 32
Sydney FC 24 10 2 12 33 35 -2 32

Wellington Phoenix 24 7 7 10 34 42 -8 28

Melbourne Heart 24 6 7 11 31 35 -4 25

Perth Glory 24 5 7 12 22 33 -11 22

By Jeremy Ruane