Brisbane Roar: 3 (Berisha 29’, Lustica 51’, Franjic 79’)
Sydney FC : 1 (Del Piero 84’ pen)
Its official, Brisbane Roar will be in the finals, the 3rd straight year they’ve qualified for the end of season showpiece, and the 5th in 8 A-League seasons, and in truth it never looked in doubt. Sydney gifted Brisbane the opening two goals, but it’s impossible to argue they didn’t deserve the three points last night, and they’ll head into the finals with some real momentum.
Brisbane were very impressive last night, and it’s abundantly clear that they’re hitting form at exactly the right time, with Thomas Broich and Besart Berisha in particular getting back to their best. The first two goals came about due to excellent defensive pressure that caused some pretty ordinary errors from the visitors. People are pinning the 1st goal on Del Piero, but for mine the pass before that from the wider area was the wrong option, even though the Italian’s pass was ordinary. Shouldn’t take anything away from Brisbane, the play to take advantage of the mistakes was clinical and it was nice to see Lustica score. Brattan’s play alongside him was brilliant once again Ivan’s third was absolutely fantastic aswell, and his move into the wing role has really reaped rewards.
I have to say, I was disappointed by Sydney last night, they were very flat given what was on the line for them, they just never looked up for, nor into the game at any stage. Their defending and the mistakes they made were rather comical at times, although they should have scored earlier than they did with the chances they made. For mine, the penalty they did score was harsh on young Donachie, but hopefully he’ll learn from it. One thing Brisbane will need to work on is their defending from set pieces and crosses with Griffiths and Ryall given clear goalscoring opportunities from crosses from wider areas.
The only math worth worrying about now is this:
– If Melbourne Victory win, we’ll be playing in Adelaide next Sunday afternoon
– If Melbourne draw, and Adelaide win, we’ll be playing in Melbourne on Friday night
– If Melbourne lose, and Adelaide win/draw, well be playing in Melbourne on Friday night
Brisbane: Theo 7, Hingert 7, Donachie 7, North 7, Stefanutto 7, Brattan 8, Lustica 7, Franjic 8, Nichols 7, Broich 8, Berisha 7, Murdocca 6, Halloran 6.
Sydney: Necevski 6, Ryall 6, A. Griffiths 6, Calvano 6, Grant 6, Antonis 7, McFlynn 6, Triantis 6, Abbas 6, Del Piero 6, J. Griffiths 6, Fabio 6, Chianese 6, Yau 6.
Up next: It’s finals time, and we won’t know what that entails until tomorrow night at the earliest, but it will either be Melbourne on Friday night, or Adelaide on Sunday afternoon.
It all comes down to this, the final round of the season with a finals spot on the line for both teams tonight. I’ve gone through the math of it all earlier in the week but again the simple version is this: win and Brisbane will finish 5th, travelling to whoever finishes 4th (currently Adelaide) next weekend, anything less and they’ll be sweating on the result of Newcastle- West Sydney and Perth- Adelaide.
Brisbane: 1. Michael Theo (gk), 3. Shane Stefanutto, 4. Matt Jurman, 5. Ivan Franjic, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 9. Stef Nijland, 10. Henrique, 11. Ben Halloran, 13. Jade North, 14. Steven Lustica, 15. James Donachie, 17. Mitch Nichols, 18. Luke Brattan, 19. Jack Hingert, 20. Matt Acton (gk), 22. Thomas Broich (c), 25. George Lambadaridis, 26. Corey BrownHingert, 20. Matt Acton (gk), 22. Thomas Broich (c), 25. George Lambadaridis, 26. Corey Brown (
Sydney: 1. Ivan Necevski (gk), 2. Sebastian Ryall, 3. Fabio Alves, 8. Adam Griffiths, 10. Alessandro Del Piero, 12. Blake Powell, 13. Tiago Calvano, 15. Terry McFlynn (c), 16. Joel Chianese, 17. Terry Antonis, 20. Vedran Janjetovic (gk), 21. Yairo Yau, 22. Ali Abbas, 23. Rhyan Grant, 26. Peter Triantis 29. Joel Griffiths
Brisbane: Theo, Hingert, Donachie, North, Stefanutto, Brattan, Lustica, Franjic, Nichols, Broich, Berisha
Subs: Acton, Henrique, Halloran, Nijland.
Omitted: Murdocca, Brown, Jurman, Lambadaridis.
Sydney: Necevski, Ryall, Tiago, A. Griffiths, Grant, Antonis, Triantis, McFlynn, Abbas, Del Piero, J. Griffiths.
Subs: Janjetovic, Chianese, Yau, Powell
Brisbane: Besart Berisha (13)
Sydney: Alessandro Del Piero (13)
Round 7:Brisbane Roar (Broich 30’, Paartalu 33’, Halloran 45’, Berisha 56’) 4-2 Sydney FC (Del Piero x2 42’, 49’)
Round 20:Sydney FC (Del Piero 7’, Triantis 69’) 2-1 Brisbane Roar (Berisha 45’- pen)
Brisbane will be boosted for this encounter with the return of Socceroos defender Jade North, who was an unused sub on Tuesday night, and he’ll slot back into the heart of defence alongside James Donachie. That re-shuffle will see Shane Stefanutto revert to his customary left fullback role, with Corey Brown dropping out of the squad. Besides that, I don’t expect any other changes to the XI, Nichols should have done enough to keep his spot, and with so much riding on the game the attacking bench of Nijland, Henrique and Halloran should remain in tact and will provide more than enough options to change the game for Mulvey if required. There was a bizarre rumour floating around that Matt Smith will be leading the boys out tonight in what would be an astonishing recovery from season ending hip surgery –not due back until pre-season-, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
With Nichols in that role behind Berisha in that attacking midfield trio, for mine it provides a better balance to the side and we looked far more dangerous going forward last week than with Nijland in the role. For mine he just understands the role better right now and it helped balance the rest of the attack with Broich able to float and be the main creative fulcrum, and for Berisha to stay high up the park and occupy the defenders.
Sydney have been rather dire on the road outside of Sydney in recent weeks, with losses to Perth and Heart amongst others. Along with the losses they’ve had poor discipline with many experienced players receiving red cards, for them to win tonight they’ll need to arrest that trend and keep 11 on the field. They played well last week against the Wanderers, keeping the league leaders at bay for the majority of the game and were only undone by a sloppy foul on the edge of the box.
Sydney, as we all know have multiple match winners in their ranks that can change a game in an instant, and that makes them a dangerous proposition. We all know about Del Piero who’s had an impressive 1st season in Australia. But he’s saved some of his best football for games involving the Roar- scoring three goals in two matches against the defending champions, including a brace at Suncorp in round 7. Long term fans however will know that he’s not the only weapon they have, with nemesis from the Farina era Joel Griffiths posting an excellent games: goals ratio against the Roar, especially at Suncorp.
Speaking of that man Farina, this ofcourse is his first trip back to Suncorp since his sacking in 2009 for drink driving infractions. He’s already faced his former employers once before, getting some revenge with a 2-1 win but he’d no doubt love to end his former clubs season on his return. It’s going to be another special night at Suncorp either way, hopefully Brisbane can secure their finals berth tonight so we call all sit back, relax, and enjoy the final round of the season and the Easter long weekend.
Back in October this season was predicted to be the closest season ever, and given that going into the final round not 1 position on the ladder is set in stone. Despite the fact that league leaders Western Sydney have doubled the points tally of last placed Wellington, everyone has something to play for. So let’s take a look at all the possible scenarios for all teams going into the final round. Firstly, here’s the current ladder and list of fixtures for this weekend.
Final round of fixtures:
Brisbane vs. Sydney
Newcastle vs. Western Sydney
CentralCoast vs. Melbourne Heart
Perth vs. Adelaide
Wellington vs. Melbourne Victory
Battle for the Premiers plate:
We’ll start at the top and the battle for the premier’s plate which this year goes down to Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners. Last season the Mariners won the plate on the final day, and although they remain in with a chance, it’s new boys Western Sydney in the pole position.
Western Sydney Wanderers:
Will win the Premiership if:
– They beat or draw with Newcastle
– They lose to Newcastle and CentralCoast fail to beat Melbourne Heart
Will finish 2nd if:
– They lose to Newcastle, and CentralCoast beat Melbourne Heart
Central Coast Mariners:
Will win the Premiership if:
– They defeat Melbourne Heart, and Western Sydney lose to Newcastle
Will finish 2nd if:
– Western Sydney win or draw with Newcastle.
Race for 3rd/4th:
This is a race that’s really irrelevant tbh, as this season it doesn’t really matter if you finish 3rd or 4th because you’re at home in the 1st week and on the road from there. It’s still undecided however and Victory and Adelaide will be hoping to go into the finals in good form.
Will finish 3rd:
– If they beat Wellington
– If they draw/lose by just the one goal and Adelaide fails to beat Perth
Will finish 4th:
– If they lose to Wellington and Adelaide beat Perth
– If they lose by more than 1 goal, and Adelaide draw with
Will finish 3rd:
– If they beat Perth and Victory fail to beat Wellington
– If they draw with Perth and Victory lose by two or more
Will finish 4th:
– If they lose to Perth
– If they draw with Perth, and Victory either avoid defeat to Wellington or only lose by the one goal
Race for the top 6:
This is the point where Brisbane is focused, with Sydney, Newcastle and Perth joining them in fighting for the final two positions in the top 6. The good thing for all teams in the race is that by and large their fate is in their own hands, and for everyone except for Sydney they’ll be playing this final game at home.
Will finish 5th:
– If they beat Sydney FC
– If they draw with Sydney, and both Perth and Newcastle draw/lose
Will finish 6th:
– If they draw with Sydney and one of Perth or Newcastle win
– If they lose to Sydney FC, and both Perth and Newcastle win
Will finish 7th:
– If they lose to Sydney FC and one of Perth and Newcastle win
– If they draw with Sydney FC and both Perth and Newcastle win
Will finish 8th:
– If they don’t beat Sydney FC and both Perth and Newcastle win
Will finish 5th:
– If they beat Brisbane Roar
Will finish 6th:
– If they draw with Brisbane, and both Newcastle and Perth fail to win.
– If they lose to Brisbane, and both Perth and Newcastle lose
Will finish 7th:
– If they draw with Brisbane, and one of Newcastle and Perth win
– If they lose to Brisbane, and either Perth or Newcastle win
Will finish 8th:
– If they don’t beat Brisbane, and both Newcastle and Perth win
Will finish 5th:
– If they beat Adelaide, and neither Brisbane or Sydney win, and Newcastle don’t win by enough to close their goal difference (Currently 10 goals better than Newcastle)
Will finish 6th:
– If they beat Adelaide, either Brisbane or Sydney win, and Newcastle don’t win by enough to close their goal difference
– If they draw with Adelaide, and either Brisbane lose by 4 goals, or Sydney lose by any margin.
Will finish 7th:
– If they draw with Adelaide, and Brisbane, Sydney and Newcastle all draw.
– If they lose, and Newcastle lose
Will finish 5th:
– If they win, and Brisbane, Sydney and Perth all fail to win, or if they beat Western Sydney by atleast 10 goals and Perth beat Adelaide- but Brisbane and Sydney draw.
Will finish 6th:
– If either Brisbane or Sydney lose, Perth lose and they beat Western Sydney
Will finish 7th:
– Perth lose to Adelaide, and they draw with Western Sydney.
Will finish 8th:
– If they don’t beat Western Sydney, and Perth lose by a maximum of 9 goals.
Race to avoid the wooden spoon:
This one is decidedly easier to comprehend than all the maths that goes alongside the race for the top 6. In essence, if either Wellington or Heart better each others result, they’ll avoid the spoon.
Will finish 9th:
– If they beat Central Coast Mariners
– If they draw to Central Coast Mariners, and Wellington don’t beat Victory
– If they lose to CentralCoast, and Wellington lose to Victory
Will finish 10th:
– If Wellington beat Victory, and they draw/lose to the Mariners
– If Wellington draw with Victory, and they lose to the Mariners
Will finish 9th:
– If they beat Victory, and Heart don’t beat CentralCoast
– If they draw with Victory, and Heart lose to Central Coast
Will finish 10th:
– If they lose to Melbourne Victory
– If they draw with Victory, and Heart win/draw against the Mariners
So there you have it, there’s a myriad of possibilities up and down the A-League ladder going into the final round. The simple math for Brisbane is this: win and they’re in, fail to do so and in all probability they won’t be. Enjoy your final round of the A-League, hopefully Brisbane will be still in the finals next week.
Brisbane Roar: 2 (Berisha 12′ (pen), Broich 31′)
Melbourne Heart: 0
Mulvey kept his decision on the replacement for North to himself, and it turned out to be the option I considered least likely, with Corey Brown coming into the side at left back, with Stefanutto shifting to central defence to accommodate the u/20 international. Mulvey also opted for the industry of Nichols instead of Dutchman Stef Nijland in the #10 role for this match, with Henrique replacing Murdocca on the subs bench. Both starting line-up changes paid off with Brown playing well at left back, the defence kept a clean sheet and Nichols had some good moments on the ball in the attacking third.
Brisbane started the game off excellently scoring very early via the penalty spot from Berisha. Aloisi wasn’t pleased with the penalty decision but for mine it was an easy call. The play in general for the first 45 was by far the best under Mulvey, there was a lot of passing, movement and penetration and the Heart really had no answers to it.
The fulcrum for that was Broich, who had his best game for a while yesterday, orchestrating the play cutting inside from his left sided role. He also managed to get a number of good shooting opportunities which he took advantage of with atleast 3 good efforts on goal in the 1st half, one of which flew past Redmayne and into the back of the net.
The second half wasn’t as good as the first, with movement not being as good, and some players taking a more selfish option rather than the structured option they were in the 1st half. There’s a couple of reasons for that- firstly fatigue, and secondly the substitutions. While Mulvey got it right from the start with Nichols in for Nijland, im not sure that changing them when he did was beneficial to the play. He might have had one eye on Thursday with it, who knows, but for mine the team was far more functional with Nichols than Nijland. The other was swapping a more defensive midfielder in Lustica, with the attack minded Henrique. For mine that didn’t really work either because it threw the balance of the side out a little.
The big positive yesterday however was the attack, which was far more fluid with more bodies in motion as opposed to people standing static with their backs to goals. Berisha didn’t drop deep half as much and thus proved to be a much more dangerous proposition, however im still not sold on Nijland being the best complementary piece to play behind him. I’ve said before that for mine Nijland shoots too much, and although he came very close to his 1st goal, he still seems to be struggling to read the play in that role.
Heart have dominated Brisbane in the two previous encounters this season, however yesterday they were never in the contest. Their away form has been dire in recent months, but with their finals hopes on the line I expected more from their. The big weapon they’ve used to great effect against Brisbane this season was pace on the counter attack and we didn’t really see any of that yesterday from them. Luke Brattan sat a lot deeper than he has in recent weeks and acted as an anchor man to cut out these counter attacks, which was a good tactical decision and really threw out Hearts plans. Their midfield was almost completely overrun by Brisbane’ aswell which is an area of the park they’ve controlled in the matches this season.
I think they’ll need to carefully sit down and evaluate their style and maybe add some more experience –especially at the back- before next season if they want to challenge, but for Brisbane the finals are still a very real possibility. I’ll go into more details on it in a post later this week, but the simple math is this: win and Brisbane can be assured of a finals berth, draw or lose and they’ll need significant help from other results. It’s set up to be an exciting ending to the regular season, if only the games were all on at the same time for added drama.
Brisbane: Theo 7, Hingert 7, Donachie 7, Stefanutto 7, Brown 7, Brattan 7, Lustica 7, Franjic 7, Nichols 7, Broich 8, Berisha 7, Nijland 6, Henrique 6, Halloran 6.
Melbourne: Redmayne 7, Walker 6, Vrankovic 6, Mitchinson 6, Coyne 6, Thompson 6, Meeuwis 6, Garcia 6, Mebrahtu 6, Tadic 6, Williams 6, Macallister 6, Hoffman 6, Babalj 6.
Up next:Brisbane faces Sydney FC in another do or die encounter at Suncorp, a win secures a finals berth, anything less and they’re probably going to be watching the finals on TV.
Two games, remaining, both at home in the span of 5 days that will decide Brisbane’ finals destiny. First up it’s Melbourne Heart on Sunday afternoon, and as it has been for the past month- it’s a must win game. Brisbane haven’t beaten the Heart since Round 28 of the 2010-11 season, so now would be a good time to start.
Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Michael Theo (gk), 3. Shane Stefanutto, 4. Matt Jurman, 5. Ivan Franjic, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 9. Stef Nijland, 10. Henrique, 11. Ben Halloran, 14. Steven Lustica, 15. James Donachie, 17. Mitch Nichols, 18. Luke Brattan, 19. Jack Hingert, 20. Matt Acton (gk), 22. Thomas Broich (c), 25. George Lambadaridis, 26. Corey Brown (three to be omitted)
Melbourne Heart squad: 1. Clint Bolton, 3. Cameron Edwards, 8. Matt Thompson, 9. Dylan Macallister, 10. Josip Tadic, 11. Richard Garcia, 14. Golgol Mebrahtu, 15. David Williams, 16. Marcel Meeuwis, 17. Jason Hoffman, 18. David Vrankovic, 19. Ben Garuccio, 20. Andrew Redmayne, 21. Jamie Coyne, 22. Nick Kalmar, 24. Sam Mitchinson, 25. Jeremy Walker, 36. Eli Babalj (Three to be omitted)
Brisbane: Theo, Hingert, Donachie, Jurman, Stefanutto, Brattan, Lustica, Franjic, Nijland, Broich, Berisha.
Subs: Acton, Henrique, Halloran, Nichols.
Omitted: Brown, Murdocca, Lambadaridis.
Melbourne: Redmayne, Walker, Vrankovic, Gerhardt, Coyne, Kalmar, Meeuwis, Thompson, Garcia, Babalj, Williams.
Subs: Bolton, Mitchinson, Tadic, Mebrahtu.
Omitted: Garuccio, Hoffman, Macallister.
Brisbane: Besart Berisha (12)
Melbourne: Josip Tadic (6)
Round 6: Melbourne Heart (Gerhardt 19’, Garcia 62’, Tadic 70’, Williams 73) 4-1 Brisbane Roar (Henrique 81’)
Round 15: Melbourne Heart (Williams 13’, Tadic 35’, Fred 53’) 3-2 Brisbane Roar (Berisha x2 74’- pen, 76’)
After some impressive signs in recent weeks, Brisbane returned to the form that sees them scrapping for a finals spot. Despite a mountain of possession Brisbane were only able to really create a single genuine goal scoring opportunity in the whole match. For mine much of it can be linked to the changed role of Berisha who’s now being asked to both play as a #9, and at times drop off the front line to make space for Nijland. Im still of the belief that you should be using your best players in the ways that suit them, and imo Berisha is best as the front man finishing off the chance, not creating them.
Mulvey has another big decision to make this week, with defender Jade North away on international duty, and Matt Smith out for the year, Mulvey has to decide between the error prone Jurman or one of the fullbacks. I wrote about this earlier in the week, and I still think it’s a choice between Franjic and Jurman. It looms as a massive decision given the success Heart have had against our defensive unit in the previous encounters this season. Something tells me that the structure of the side will win out and Jurman will be in as a straight swap- but we shall see.
Heart meanwhile have basically seen their finals chances drift away with three straight defeats, although they remain an outside shot if they win this game. Since the last meeting they’ve lost two key players in fullbacks Michael Marrone and Aziz Behich, although they have welcomed striker Eli Babalj back to the side after his European journey soured.
Heart have been dominant in the two meetings this season with Aloisi’ counter attacking style working a treat against Brisbane. In both games they’ve had some luck with assistant refereeing decisions, but they’re quick counter attacks just tore Brisbane apart. It’s a similar strategy that saw John Van’t Schip get a win and two draws against Brisbane last season aswell.
This looms as a season defining game for both clubs, hopefully Brisbane can get back to their good form of recent weeks and get the 3 points that will allow them to have their destiny in their own hands going into the final game of the season against Sydney. As Mulvey said in the press today, for Brisbane, the finals start now.
Jade North’ Socceroos call-up for next weeks 2014 World Cup Qualifier against Oman means he will miss Sundays clash with Melbourne Heart –
and possibly the final game of the regular season against Sydney, just 48 hours after the Socceroos game- and provides an interesting dilemma for Mike Mulvey- who is the best alternative to replace him? It’s a well deserved call-up for Jade who alongside James Donachie have been a key reason for the form in recent weeks. The question now is with Matt Smith out for the season with a hip injury, how best should his spot be filled and who are the alternatives? For mine, there are 3, as outlined by Marco and Craig Moore in the Courier Mail today- Matt Jurman, Ivan Franjic and Shane Stefanutto. Imo Corey Brown isn’t a true alternative as for mine he’s too short and not strong enough to play as a centre back, so here’s brief run down of the pros and cons of each option.
Case for Jurman
Of the trio of options, Jurman is the only natural central defender, which ofcourse is favourable in comparison to makeshift fullbacks playing in the role. Playing Jurman also would require no other changes to other areas of the side which is a massive selling point given the recent improvement across the board, and the greatly improved balance Franjic has brought to the side in attack. He’s also likely to be motivated to do well given that his contract expires at the end of April- that ofcourse could go the other way if he takes the attitude of not caring because he’s leaving.
Case against Jurman
There’s many arguments against Jurman- he’s been inconsistent at best this season, he’s not played in over a month now and his partnership with Donachie wasn’t the best. He’s been a massive disappointment in the defence this season which was one of the biggest problems facing the side earlier in the season- which has improved drastically since he was replaced by Donachie.
Case for Franjic
Ivan has proved to be something of a Mr fix-it since Mulvey has taken over in early December. He’s got some central defensive experience alongside Donachie earlier in the season with mixed results. He is a natural defender however, and if he moved back into the defence it would open up the opportunity for a more attacking player –most likely Halloran- to come back into the side in what is a must win game.
Case against Franjic
The biggest argument against moving Ivan into the central defensive role is his newfound success in the right wing role in recent weeks which has brought more balance to the side. His partnership with Jack Hingert has been a focal point of the reasons associated with the return turn in results, and he’s also shown the ability to get a goal and create chances for others. He’s also, not a natural central defender and despite doing a reasonable job in the role.
Case for Stefanutto
Shane is a strong and experienced defender who’s been a key cog in the success of recent seasons. It would also allow his long term successor, Corey Brown, to get even more 1st team experience. Earlier in the season we saw Shane play the final 20 minutes of a game as a central defender with Brown playing outside him. This would also allow Ivan to stay in his recent right wing role where he’s had some success in recent weeks.
Case against Stefanutto
As I mentioned, Shane has been one of the key contributors in the success, however he has done that purely as a left back. And that’ the real problem, because Shane isn’t really a central defender imo. Despite there being a solid option to replace Shane in his normal position, for mine this is the least likely option. Brown too, like Jurman also hasn’t played a game since the final NYL game of the season a month ago now so fitness could be a concern.
Mulvey has a massive decision to make here, and it could be the defining decision of the season since Sunday’ game against Melbourne Heart is essentially a must win game. For mine, it’s a clear decision between having any trust or faith in Jurman and keeping the structure of the side in tact vs. bringing Ivan back into the defence and bringing in another natural attacker to the side. If it were up to me, I’d be moving Ivan back to the defence and bringing in either Henrique or Halloran, but my gut feeling is that he’ll likely stick Jurman in there as to not disrupt the current structure of the team. We’ll find out later in the week which way Mulvey is leaning.
After last weeks bright and exciting draw with Melbourne, Brisbane turned out a polar opposite performance in comparison with a 1-0 defeat with a lack of creativity and ingenuity. The same issues that have occurred throughout the season raised their heads again today, and Mulvey still has some work to do in fixing those. There’s a host of reasons why that occurred, and I’ll get into those in a moment- 1stly a rundown of the match.
The start of the match was pretty ordinary from both sides, with neither showing an ability to string more than 3 passes together, albeit with Brisbane controlling both possession and territory. Steve Lustica had Brisbane’ best chances in the 1st half- starting with a short corner routine that went just over the bar, as well as two other shots straight at Ryan.
As the half wore on Central Coast began to get on top, and they eventually got their reward when Bernie Ibini beat Theo on his near post. The Roar custodian would be disappointed with the fact he was beaten in that manner, however to his credit he also made three other excellent saves to keep the scoreboard close going into the break.
Brisbane controlled possession and territory in the second half, although in truth they rarely threatened or created any clear cut goal scoring chances for their efforts- more on that in a moment. The best chances ended up falling to Nijland who had a few long range shooting chances, with a free kick that hit the post being the closest he, and Brisbane came.
The first big problem related to Berisha, and his play within his role as the striker. We’ve seen him drop deep to link the play at various stages for Brisbane, and it’s usually followed by a disjointed attacking performance- today was no exception. When Berisha gets frustrated and drops deep, there’s no outlet to play the ball forward quickly which played perfectly into the Mariners hands.
If we look back to when Brisbane were truly at their best, they regularly had someone playing on the shoulder of the final defender- both to pressure in defence and offer an option to run in behind. These days, most if not all of Brisbane’ play occurs in front of the back 4. It’s not solely on Berisha however, because there was a lack of service today with the fullbacks and creative midfielders having quiet games, which brings me to the other problem.
In recent weeks, both the fullbacks and wide midfielders have been pivotal in the turnaround of results and performance- today they were well below their best. Stefanutto got forward only occasionally, and was often unrewarded with play tending to go down the right side in recent weeks. The right side was reasonable today, like the rest of the side if was slightly off it’s best.
The real problem here however was the complete ineffectiveness of Broich- who barely had a kick in the entire match. He floated from standing wide on the left to provide width, to standing in a central #10 role but he rarely found the ball, and when he did, he didn’t do a lot with it. That caused Nijland to become the creative link who took the wrong option more often than not, shoots too much and continues to disappoint. The two at the base of midfield also failed to have an impact which did little to help fix the issues that arose ahead of them on the field.
Brisbane now have two games left, both at home to sort out these issues for good, and in addition to that Mulvey also has to fill a hole at the back with North away on national team duty. The only positive is nobody else in the hunt for 5th and 6th also dropped points.
Brisbane: Theo 6, Hingert 6, Donachie 6, North 6, Stefanutto 6, Brattan 6, Lustica 6, Franjic 6, Nijland 6, Broich 6, Berisha 6, Nichols 6, Halloran 6, Murdocca 6.
Central Coast: Ryan 6, Sainsbury 7, Anderson 6, Zwaanswijk 6, Rose 6, Montgomery 6, Hutchinson 6, McGlinchey 6, Ibini 8, Fitzgerald 6, McBreen 6, Bozanic 6, Duke 6.
Up next: Brisbane play the also desperate Melbourne Heart next Sunday afternoon at home, in a game which should eliminate one side once and for all from finals contention.