Victory hand Brisbane first defeat of the season

Melbourne Victory (1) Troisi (56’)
Brisbane Roar (0)

A-League Rd 3 - Melbourne Victory v Brisbane Roar

Brisbane: Theo, Hingert, North, Smith, Stefanutto, Brattan, Miller, McKay, Franjic, Broich, Yeboah.
Substitutions: Petratos for Brattan (53’), Henrique for Miller (67’), Brown for Yeboah (81’)
Unused Subs: Acton, Donachie.
Yellow Cards: Theo, Hingert, Stefanutto, Franjic.
Red Cards: Nil.

Melbourne: Coe, Geria, Ansell, Leijer, Traore, Milligan, Broxham, Nichols, Troisi, Barbarouses, Thompson.
Substitutions: Finkler for Troisi (66’), Nichols for Pain (81’), Gallaway for Geria (85’).
Unused substitutes: Thomas, Mahazi.
Yellow Cards: Milligan.
Red Cards: Nil

Melbourne have handed Brisbane their first defeat of the new season with a 1-0 loss at Docklands last night via a goal from James Troisi. The loss is Brisbane’s first of the campaign, and will in all likelihood see them slip down the ladder over the course of the round, results depending. The game was one of a very high quality for the A-League, and it was only a mistake from Theo in coming off of his line, but not committing to it that cost Brisbane a point they probably deserved.

The standout performances came from the back four with both Jade North and Matt Smith putting in an outstanding defensive shift. Between Brisbane pushing up in defence, and Victory playing high up the park in attack, there were numerous occasions –especially the first half- where the Victory were about to get in behind and in for a 1v1 opportunity. However with some good positioning and last ditch tackles, North in particular did an outstanding job cutting out their attacks.

The full-backs did their job in a defensive sense, however it was with the ball where they really shone. Brisbane always play with a lot of width from the overlapping fullbacks, last night however they really used that weapon. Stefanutto was forever making runs down that left hand side and for mine went close to best on ground for either side, while Hingert was a bit more measured in his forward running in comparison, he however created a couple of half chances getting forward, one of which fell to himself in the box.

Despite their dominance at times throughout the match, it’s hard to recall Brisbane really having any clear cut goal scoring opportunities, despite getting plenty of service from the full-backs in wide areas. Matt McKay just seemed slightly off tonight, and didn’t have his usual end product on the end of all his running, while Miller was once again anonymous for mine, apart from when he turned the ball over for the goal. Brattan did his job when he was on, and his absence- especially in a defensive sense- was missed. There was plenty of interchanging going on in the midfield, with Broich and Franjic spending some time in there as well, unfortunately they just couldn’t unlock the Victory.

Brisbane seemed to break down around the edge of the penalty box last night, despite building the play up nicely through the lines of the team, and Victory parking the bus after scoring didn’t help. At times it seemed like they were too narrow and trying to be too intricate, while there weren’t enough players making forward runs into the box to get on the end of crosses when they did arrive from wide areas. There was also a hesitancy to shoot from outside the area, with only Franjic seemingly willing to take a shot on.

A lot has been, and will be, made of Berisha’s absence, and while there’s no question he was a loss for Brisbane, im not convinced his inclusion would have resulted in a different outcome. The problems lied in the creating the opportunities, not taking them. Yeboah only had the one half chance from memory when he turned his defender in the box before the other defender came and cleared, and in general I thought he had a reasonable game, especially in the first half. It’s more than fair to question the wisdom of not signing a backup #9, especially with so many attacking midfielder types on the roster, and the resources the club had available going into the off-season.

As for Melbourne, they started off strongly in the opening 25 minutes or so, before going off the boil somewhat. They’re very good at what they do however –sit deep, launch lightning fast counters-, and there is a lot to work with for the new boss. Milligan and Broxham play a pivotal role for the Victory, as they are the ones that break up the play and launch the quick counters for Archie and co, and they were both at the heart of the strong start by the Victory. Brisbane found a way of negating their way past them –essentially by using more width-, and from then on their influence dried up slightly. The front 4 of Melbourne linked up well with Nichols the standout of the four for mine, where Nichols –against his former club- was the standout of the bunch. His movement off the ball and passing was excellent and he’s slotted in nicely for the Victory.

Stats:
Round 3a

Round 3

Up next:
Brisbane return home Sunday week for a clash against Victory’s cross-town rivals, Melbourne Heart where there will be plenty of familiar faces on show, not least foundation player Massimo Murdocca in his first trip back to Brisbane since his departure.

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