Brisbane keep finals hopes alive

Brisbane Roar: 2 (Berisha 12′ (pen), Broich 31′)
Melbourne Heart: 0

 

A-League Rd 26 - Brisbane v Melbourne

 

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.

 

 

Stats:
rnd 26

 

Player ratings:
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.

 

 

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