Ten man Brisbane complete comeback victory

The goal scorers (Getty Images)

The goal scorers (Getty Images)

Brisbane Roar 2 (Petratos 36’, Henrique 73’)
Melbourne Heart 1 (Behich 18’)
10,101 at Lang Park, Brisbane

Theo, Hingert, North, Smith, Ferreira, Miller, Lustica, McKay, Petratos, Broich, Berisha.
Substitutions: Donachie for North (46’), Henrique for Miller (70’).
Unused Substitutes: Acton, Stefanutto, Solórzano.
Yellow Cards: Nil.
Red Cards: Berisha.

Velaphi, Hoffman, Wielaert, Kisnorbo, Garuccio, Murdocca, Engelaar, Behich, Dugandzic, Ramsay, Williams.
Substitutions: Kalmar for Engelaar (65’), Mauk for Ramsay (75’), Gerhardt for Wielaert (80’).
Yellow Cards: Wielaert, Mauk.
Red Cards: Nil.

Brisbane opted to give a couple of players who have been integral to the success of the season by completely resting Luke Brattan, while Shane Stefanutto also was rested on the subs bench. The returning duo of defenders in Jade North and James Donachie playing a half each in what was a smart piece of management from Mulvey. It is also a benefit of the position they’ve granted themselves with their strong form this season. Berisha also returned to the top of the formation in place of Henrique, while Steven Lustica got his first start for five weeks in place of Brattan. There definitely seemed to be a bit of resting players for the upcoming finals series, it will be interesting to see if that trend continues next week in Parramatta. You’d assume at the very least we’d try and get the XI on the park that will play in the finals for the final round game at home to Central Coast in a fortnight.

Heart meanwhile sprang something of a selection surprise by opting to keep youngster Ben Garuccio at left back, which resulted in regular left back returning to the side in the unfamiliar role of left sided central midfield. While that was a bit of a shock in some respects, the move worked reasonably well in truth. The rest of their side was relatively settled and started on Sunday in Melbourne against the Mariners.

Brisbane started the game seemingly coming of a Premiership hangover in the opening 20-25 minutes, and that started from almost the opening whistle. After a sloppy bit of play in the defensive third Miller brought down Behich in the box, and they were only let off from conceding a penalty after the assistant referee awarded an offside. That however wasn’t the end of the malaise however with some sloppy play all over the park, particularly in the midfield where there were a host of turnovers. There was also a reassurance of a problem that has been evident from time to time- slow ball movement and ball circulation. Infact Theo kept Brisbane in the game early on with a couple of impressive saves, one in particular that was a reflex save from close range. All of that lead to the opening goal when Behich was left free in the box who beat Theo on the near post.

While Brisbane were hardly vintage in the first half –a fact acknowledged by both Mulvey and the players after the game- they did go into the break on equal terms. After about half an hour Brisbane began to work their way back into the game, with Petratos and Broich beginning to look dangerous. It was Petratos that got Brisbane back into the game ten minutes before the break after beating Velaphi from close range.

Hopefully not the final image of Bes' in a Brisbane shirt (Getty Images)

Hopefully not the final image of Bes’ in a Brisbane shirt (Getty Images)

The game was then turned on its head within five minutes of the second half after Berisha, who just returned to the side after serving a suspension was once again sent from the field. Berisha was played in behind the Heart back four and was in for a 1v1 with Velaphi, and it’s important to note that he did get to the ball first. That fact for mine should for starters remove a red card from the equation, despite the unfortunate and ugly contact with Velaphi’s face. Im not exactly sure what it is that Berisha should have done in that situation to avoid the contact, he was challenging for a 50-50 which he actually won, and made what could only be called accidental contact with the keeper. I know that the contact doesn’t have to be malicious for it to be deemed a bookable offence, but a red card for that is very harsh. I think the fact that Velaphi was straight back on his feet and if you look at the reaction of the Heart players immediately following the ruling- that speaks volumes. Unlike his challenge two weeks ago against Sydney which was two footed and hard to argue, this one I think was extremely harsh- mind you I don’t expect it to be overturned.

Onto the fallout of the incident, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mulvey go in so strong on a refereeing decision. Normally he just plays the straight bat and gives very little away on refereeing decisions, but this time he was strong and adamant that it was the wrong decision. I think a large part of that is down to standing by what is a key player in the side who Mulvey pretty much said felt that he was harshly done by and was targeted due to previous indiscretions. Mike also said that an appeal would without question be lodged, and while I agree with that stance, im also not sure it’s going to do a lot of good. For those unaware, in short if the MRP decide that his challenge is worthy of a Yellow Card the Red Card will stand and therefore so will the suspension.

That raises an entirely different question- what will the suspension be? The mandatory suspension for an automatic red card is one match, however given this is his third this season could the MRP give him extra weeks as a repeat offender? There is also a chance than any appeal could see an extra sanction being added should it prove unsuccessful. This is a bit of a sobering thought, but there is a chance –albeit a small one- that might have been Bes’ final appearance in Orange. Should for instance- Bes cop a three game ban and Brisbane lose in the semi-final on April 27 Berisha would not get the chance to run out in orange again. While I don’t think it will come to that, at most he’ll get a two game ban, it is still disappointing to see someone who has done so much in the Brisbane team seemingly going out like this.

After the sending off, once again Brisbane reverted to what they’ve done all season when they’re at a man disadvantage by controlling the play- just like they did against Adelaide, Perth and Sydney. In the second half Broich stepped up to his usual level of play and along with Petratos and Henrique when he came on were dangerous playing on the counter attack. It was the counter attack where Brisbane got the winner, which started right down the other end of the park at a Heart corner before some quick movement with and without the ball from Henrique and Petratos got the ball down into the attacking third. After a delightful chip for Dimi and a cross from McKay to find Henrique who somehow evaded five Heart defenders, and the Brazilian beat Velaphi to score the winner. From the Heart perspective, they had a 6 v 3 in that movement and still conceded a goal with nobody even getting close to Henrique.

Screenshot_2014-3-29 3.16.55


Round 25 Match Preview: Brisbane vs. Melb. Heart


With the Premiership in the bag Brisbane open round 25 with two of their stated objectives for the season guaranteed, and will be looking to continue their momentum towards that the third prize of the season. The win last week over the Victory may mean that there isn’t a great deal on the line for Brisbane, but that’s not the case for the visiting Heart who must win if they are to have any chance of squeezing into the finals. The fact they’re even in the discussion after failing to win until round 15 is a testament to their later season resurgence, however that will all be for nothing without a win tomorrow night. This fixture has traditionally been dominated by the home team with seven of the eleven meetings between the two sides being won by the hosts. You have to go back to Round 10 of the 2011-12 season to find the last time the away side won in this fixture- with ironically was also a Melbourne Heart win in Brisbane on a Friday night.

Brisbane reportedly are set to welcome back three defenders to the squad which will undoubtedly ease the defensive crisis of recent weeks. Jade North’s return is likely to result in Stefanutto being pushed back out to left back, with the unlucky Diogo Ferreira likely to make way despite a very solid showing last week. Donachie and Brown will in all likelihood be fighting for a place on the bench along with Ferreira. Brisbane also welcome back Besart Berisha, who will start upfront despite the effectiveness of the front three last weekend.

Expected Brisbane XI:
Theo, Hingert, North, Smith, Stefanutto, Miller, Brattan, McKay, Petratos, Broich, Berisha.
Substitutes: Acton, Ferreira, Lustica, Henrique, Solórzano.
Omitted: Brown, Donachie.

Heart effectively saw their finals chances evaporate last Sunday when the Mariners came to town and took the three points, and their cause this week wont be helped by the fact that retiree Harry Kewell is set to miss once again. On loan defender Aziz Behich is back however, and should fill the left back spot with Ben Garuccio likely to be on the bench. It’s marquee man Orlando Engelaar that needs to be watched however, with the big Dutchman in fine form since returning from a broken leg.

Expected Melbourne XI:
Redmayne, Hoffman, Kisnorbo, Wielaert, Behich, Germano, Murdocca, Engelaar, Dugandzic, Ramsay, Williams.
Substitutes: Velaphi, Gerhardt, Garuccio, Mauk, Kalmar.

This season:
Round 4: Brisbane Roar 3-0 Melbourne Heart
Round 20: Melbourne Heart 1-0 Brisbane Roar

The two meetings this season have been split once a-piece with Brisbane winning 3-0 at home way back in round four, before the Heart continued their dominance of Brisbane in the Victorian capital with a solid showing just last month. That 3-0 win in Brisbane may seem resounding by looking at the score, but the Heart had more than enough chances to get something out of the game, and were let down by their finishing on the day.

Tale of the tape:

The weather has been pretty dire all week in Brisbane really, and the rain is expected to intensify over the next 24 hours or so. Despite that there’s little danger the game won’t go ahead –after Boxing Day 2010 I refuse to think any game at Suncorp ever will be washed out-, and level 7 will be open for those wanting to stay dry.

Round 25 squads: Brisbane vs. Melb. Heart


Friday, 28 March 2014
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Heart
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 7. 00pm local (8:00pm AEDT)
Referee: Chris Beath
Assistant Referee 1: Ashley Beecham
Assistant Referee 2: Allyson Flynn
Fourth Official: Matthew Gillett

Brisbane Roar squad: 1.Michael THEO, 2.Matthew SMITH (c), 3.Shane STEFANUTTO, 7.Besart BERISHA, 8.Steven LUSTICA, 10.HENRIQUE, 11.Liam MILLER, 13.Jade NORTH, 14.Diogo FERRIERA, 15.James DONACHIE, 16.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 17.Matt McKAY, 18.Luke BRATTAN, 19.Jack HINGERT, 20.Matthew ACTON (gk), 22.Thomas BROICH, 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 26.Corey BROWN
**Two to be omitted**

Ins: 7.Besart BERISHA (returns from suspension), 13.Jade NORTH (returns from injury), 15.James DONACHIE (returns from injury), 26.Corey BROWN (returns from illness)
Outs: 27.Devante CLUT (Omitted), 28.Brandon BORRELLO (Omitted)
Unavailable: 5.Ivan FRANJIC (ankle – 1 week), 25.George LAMBADARDIS (knee – season)

Melbourne Heart FC squad: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 3.Robbie WIELAERT (C), 4.Orlando ENGELAAR, 6.Patrick GERHARDT, 7.Iain RAMSAY, 8.Massimo MURDOCCA, 13.Jonatan GERMANO, 15.David WILLIAMS, 16. Aziz BEHICH, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 19.Benjamin GARUCCIO, 20.Tando VELAPHI (GK), 21.Stefan MAUK, 22.Nicholas KALMAR, 23.Mate DUGANDZIC, 24.Patrick KISNORBO, 28. Paulo RETRE
**One to be omitted**

Ins: 16.Aziz BEHICH (promoted), 28. Paulo RETRE (promoted)
Outs: 10.Harry KEWELL (abdominal strain – 2 weeks)
Unavailable: Nil


(Joshua Morton Photography)

(Joshua Morton Photography)

Brisbane Roar wrapped up the A-League Premiership at the weekend with the win over the Victory in typical Brisbane fashion. The late Brattan goal gave the club it’s second Premiership and moves the club level with Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners as the only clubs to have won the trophy on multiple occasions. They’ve wrapped up the plate in equal record pace, securing the silverware with three games remaining- something Melbourne did in the competitions second season. Rather than talk about the weekends game, this is more of a look back at how Brisbane won the plate, and an extremely early –and brief- look forward towards the Champions League.

In his first full season in charge, Mulvey has done a fantastic job managing the squad, and also getting consistent performances out of the playing group. It was clear early on that the hunger that was perhaps missing last year had returned and that we would see some vastly improved performances this season. Across the board, it’s impossible to deny that, with the possible exception of the R20 loss to Melbourne Heart. In a clear sign of their quality of performance this term, they’ve gone down to ten men on three occasions this year, and have outplayed their opponents all three times coming away with two draws and a last minute loss. While it wasn’t really revolutionary from Mulvey in a tactical sense, it was still strong management to get more out of a core playing group that had seemingly grown content with previous successes.

From a playing point of view, it’s hard to fault them. The spine of the championship winning teams –Theo, Smith, Franjic Broich, Henrique, Berisha- all either recaptured their best form this season, or took their games to another level. The newer players in the squad such as Miller, Petratos or utility Diogo Ferreira all did their job in the side, while those retuning for a second stint in Brisbane –notably McKay- provided a massive boost to the side.

The record:
Played 24. Won 15. Drawn 3. Lost 6. 40 goals scored. 21 goals conceded. 48 points.

It’s not a record points haul given there are fewer games now – Brisbane already holds that record anyway (61 points from 30 games), but it has been done in record setting pace. The good thing about this season is that every first team player has contributed to the success by getting on the park- with the exception of Julius Doe and the injured George Lambadaridis and Kofi Danning. Youth has also played a big part in securing the premiership with five National Youth League Players taking the park.

2013-14 A-League results

2013-14 A-League results

A-League 2013-14 Player stats

A-League 2013-14 Player stats

The key games:
Round 2:

Brisbane 4-0 Sydney
While I always think it’s important to start the season off with a win when you’re chasing silverware, it was the home opener the week after against rivals Sydney FC that set the tone for the season to follow. A resounding 4-0 win over the Sky Blues, with football played in the now typical Brisbane way culminating in goals from four different players.

Round 7:
Brisbane 3-1 Western Sydney
This was the first of a few times Brisbane played in a top of the table clash, and after coming off a defeat the previous week in monsoonal Newcastle, Brisbane jumped out to a flying start. They put their marker down in that opening twenty minutes and rattled the then league leaders before a late goal sealed the points and the top spot. Brisbane would hold the top spot from then on.

Round 13:
Melb. Victory 0-3 Brisbane
While the win the week before was emphatic, it was this performance that turned heads league wide as Brisbane went to what historically is a tough place for them to go, and trounced the Victory. The game had what was until this weekend considered to be goal of the season by Liam Miller, but Brisbane’s ‘false 9’ system of play saw them run rings around their hosts.

Round 18:
Western Sydney 1-1 Brisbane
Another top of the table clash, this time in Parramatta and although Brisbane didn’t return with the three points, they maintained their sizable advantage at the top of the league and made it virtually impossible for the Wanderers, or anyone else, to catch them. Not a vintage performance, but a courageous one, and an important point along the road.

Round 22:
Brisbane 2-1 Adelaide
After a back to back defeats the gap was closing at the top with Adelaide now threatening to join the fray and contest the Premiership. Brisbane seemingly came out with a point to prove and they did so by controlling the game against a side trying to imitate their style of play in many respects. This wasn’t the day the plate was lifted, but for mine this was the day that guaranteed it would be coming to Brisbane.

The future:
Brisbane are offcourse now in the 2015 AFC Champions League, the first Eastern Asia side to qualify, and will be joined by another two Australian, Chinese, Japanese, South Korean and possible Thai and Indonesian sides in the draw at the end of the season. Throughout the winter months we’ll keep you updated on the progress of those leagues and cups to see who Brisbane may play. This will likely, and should definitely, play a part in both their off-season recruitment strategy and also their pre-season campaign, but more on that as the time approaches.

Brisbane wraps up Premiership in dramatic fashion

Brisbane Roar 1 (Brattan 92’)
Melbourne Victory 0
at Lang Park, Brisbane



Brisbane Roar have secured the Premiership in typically dramatic fashion with a last minute long range effort from Luke Brattan proving the difference in what was a tight and entertaining night of football. The result means that Brisbane have won the first piece of silverware of the season –their second premiership- and will return to the Asian Champions League next season. More on all of that later though.

Onto the actual game, and although it was close, on another day Brisbane could have had four or five, with a combination of snatching at chances and some impressive saves from young Lawrence Thomas keeping Victory in the game. It was probably one of the best games we’ve seen at Suncorp for a while, with both sides attempting to play football in their styles, as opposed to one side sitting deep and looking to spoil.

Brisbane created a host of chances in the game and could easily have had the game in hand if Broich, Petratos, Miller and Henrique had found the target in the opening half. Brisbane continued along in the second half and had by far the better chances in the game with Broich, Miller and Henrique all going close in the second half before Brattan finally found the back of the net. The performance was typical Brisbane Roar with possession, forward play and width all in evidence. Player wise, McKay, Broich and Henrique were brilliant going forward, as was Solórzano in his cameo.

One of the key match-ups in the game was always going to be Brisbane’s left back Diogo Ferreira up against inform Victory attacker Kosta Barbarouses, and it was the ex Victory utility who won the battle. His one v one defending in the first half when he completely ground to a halt a fantastic chance for the ex Brisbane attacker was fantastic, and in general he covered Victory’s attempts to get in behind him well. He also offered a lot going forward as well, and was unlucky not to beat Thomas at the near post.

In general the Victory were looking to do what a number of sides have done this season, absorb pressure and hit Brisbane in transition. They had their moments, but the timing of their runs in the front third were off last night, possibly due to fatigue given their schedule. Milligan however had a fantastic game in the middle of the park, tracking back and making a host of key interceptions. The keeper did well for himself as well, and looks to have ousted Nathan Coe for the time being.

Screenshot_2014-3-23 16.41.51

Round 24 Preview: Brisbane vs. Melbourne


Brisbane have a chance to win the premiership tomorrow night against Melbourne Victory should they collect all three points. More on the actual game in a moment, but firstly- I’ll lay out the situation as we start the weekend. Mathematically- three sides can still win the Premiership, however both Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers still in the race. Victory offcourse play Brisbane, while Wanderers back up a week in Asia with a home game against Perth Glory. Both can technically keep the race alive with a draw in their respective games, however realistically they both need a win. Brisbane can remove all doubt from the occasion with a win, and if they do David Gallop will be on hand to present the Premiers Plate to the team. Should they slip up, they’ll get another chance to seal it at home next Friday against Melbourne Heart.

Moving back onto this weeks match and while the record between these two in Brisbane even at 5 wins each from 12 games – 2 draws-, Brisbane have had by far the better in this fixture in recent seasons with most of Victory’s wins in Brisbane occurring in the leagues formative years. Their last win over Brisbane in Brisbane was actually back in season 5, when an Archie Thompson goal gifted them a 1-0 win early in Ange Postecoglou’s tenure. All up however it is the navy blues who hold the edge, with 11 wins to Brisbane’s 9 all time. Archie is also at the top of the scorers table in this fixture with 10 against Brisbane, with his former strike partner Danny Allsopp 2nd most prolific with 5. Brisbane’s best are two players who either have, or will play for the Victory with Berisha and Nichols on 4 goals each against the Victory. Berisha’s suspension means that Brisbane’s top scorer against the Victory on the park tomorrow night will be McKay, who has 3 goals against Melbourne.

Despite dropping two points last week, Brisbane played well last week down in Sydney, and it was only their lack of a finish that prevented them getting the win, despite being a man down. Brisbane’s nominal plan b is likely to be enforced this weekend, with Berisha once again suspended. It worked a treat dragging the Victory side out of shape last time and Mulvey will be hoping it does so again. For the Victory, the one thing they have this time they didn’t last was Rogic, who is an undoubted x-factor and someone Brisbane will have to watch closely. They’ll also be arriving in Brisbane both high on confidence after a win over Perth last week and in Asia midweek, and also a purpose. They need to win to keep any dream of the premiership –or even top two- alive, and will also want a psychological advantage should the two meet in the finals. So will Mulvey however for that matter.

Mike Mulvey has even more headaches defensively this week with Corey Brown’s appendix drama adding to the defensive shortage. North and Franjic are set to miss again, while Donachie too is out again. That will result in a makeshift back four of Hingert, Smith, Stefanutto and Ferreira. There is no apparent options in the youth side as regular centre halves from the NYL season –Lachlan Jackson and Sam Cronin- haven’t been sighted for the youth team in the NPL side to date. In addition to that, Berisha’s suspension opens the door for Henrique to return to the starting line-up, probably resulting in the false 9 system that worked so well last time against Victory. Solórzano –who is fit again- is unlikely to be considered fit enough to start the game. As for defensive depth should it be needed, I’ve got no idea where it’ll come from- McKay to LB maybe?

Expected Brisbane XI:
Theo, Hingert, Smith, Stefanutto, Ferreira, Miller, Brattan, McKay, Petratos, Broich, Henrique.
Subs: Acton, Lustica, Solórzano, Borrello, Clut/Theodore/somebody else to be added.

Victory meanwhile will be coming into this game close to full strength, however they will be coming off back to back weeks with ACL commitments which could leave them fatigued. They’ll welcome back Adrian Leijer to the squad, and also Milligan who was rested from the start midweek in the Champions League. If Traore’s recent injury issues prevent him from playing, youngster Dylan Murnane will come into the side.

Expected Melbourne XI:
Thomas, Galloway, Contreras, Leijer, Traore, Broxham, Milligan, Rogic, Troisi, Thompson, Barbarouses.
Subs: Coe, Geria, Mahazi, Finkler, Makarounas.

This season:
Round 3:
Melbourne Victory (Troisi) 1-0 Brisbane Roar
Round 13: Melbourne Victory 0-3 Brisbane Roar (Miller, McKay, Petratos)

The two meetings this season have been shared, with Victory sending Ange Postecoglou out of Melbourne a winner with a win in round 3, before Brisbane returned serve with the performance of the season in round 13. Brisbane’s false 9 system worked to devastating effect that night, resulting in arguably the goal of the season after long sequence of passes.

Tale of the tape:

Round 24 squads: Brisbane Roar vs. Melbourne Victory


Saturday, 22 March 2014
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 6:45pm local (7:45pm AEDT)
Referee: Peter Green
Assistant Referee 1: David Walsh
Assistant Referee 2: Brad Hobson
Fourth Official: Adam Kersey

Brisbane Roar squad: 1.Michael THEO, 2.Matthew SMITH (c), 3.Shane STEFANUTTO, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 8.Steven LUSTICA, 10.HENRIQUE, 11.Liam MILLER, 13.Jade NORTH, 14.Diogo FERRIERA, 16.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 17.Matt McKAY, 18.Luke BRATTAN, 19.Jack HINGERT, 20.Matthew ACTON (gk), 22.Thomas BROICH, 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 28.Brandon BORRELLO.
**One to be omitted**

Ins: 5.Ivan FRANJIC (return from injury), 13.Jade NORTH (return from injury), 16.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO (return from injury)
Outs: 7.Besart BERISHA (suspended), 26.Corey BROWN (appendix – 4 weeks)
Unavailable: 15.James DONACHIE (hamstring – 1 week), 25.George LAMBADARDIS (knee – season)

Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Nathan COE (gk), 2.Pablo CONTRERAS, 3.Adama TRAORE, 4.Nick ANSELL, 5.Mark MILLIGAN (C), 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Gui FINKLER, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 14.James TROISI, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Tom ROGIC, 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23.Adrian LEIJER, 24.Scott GALLOWAY, 25.Jason GERIA, 31.Dylan MURNANE
**Two to be omitted**

Ins: 23.Adrian LEIJER (returns from injury) 31.Dylan MURNANE (promoted)
Outs: Nil
Unavailable: Nil