Brisbane clean up at A-League awards night

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Brisbane Roar have scooped up the major honours at the end of season awards for season 9 of the A-League with Thomas Broich and Mike Mulvey picking up the major awards of the night. Brisbane Roar swept up all the major awards of the night, including the prestigious Johnny Warren medal, which was won by Thomas Broich for the second time. It’s been a busy week of award winning for Thomas who has also claimed the Football Media Association (FMA) player of the year, and the SBS player of the year (Les Murray Medal).

In the women’s game, Tameka Butt won the Julie Dolan medal for player of the year, while completing the trio of awards was Brandon Borrello who won NYL player of the year. Brisbane’s boss was also rewarded with Mike Mulvey rewarded for his work this season with the A-League coach of the year award. Brisbane also won the A-League fair play award for the fourth successive season, and 5th in 6 years while the W-League side were in a three way tie for their fair play award.

Elsewhere- it was a big night for young Socceroos and Newcastle striker Adam Taggart- whose 16 goals this season won him both the golden boot and the young player of the year award. Also recognised was Adelaide captain and custodian Eugene Galekovic who won the goalkeeper of the year. Elsewhere Orlando Engelaar won goal of the year for his 50 yard screamer, while Peter Green –who will referee Sunday’s final- won referee of the year.

In the women’s game Melbourne Victory picked up a pair of awards with Stephanie Catley winning young player of the year, while Jessica Fishlock won the players player of the year. Former Matildas captain Melissa Barbieri won the goalkeeper of the year award, with Sally Shipard winning goal of the year. It was also a successful night for the Sky Blue women with coach Alen Stadjic winning coach of the year, while Jodie Foster was the golden boot. The fair play award was also split by Melbourne and Newcastle in a 3 way tie, while Casey Reibelt was referee of the year.

In the youth league, aside from Borrello who won the young player of the year award, the Golden boot winner was Anthony Costa with 14, while Melbourne Victory won the fair play award.

Full list of winners:

A-League 2013/14 Awards
Johnny Warren Medal: Thomas Broich – Brisbane Roar
Young Footballer of the Year: Adam Taggart – Newcastle Jets
Goalkeeper of the Year: Eugene Galekovic – Adelaide United
Golden Boot Award: Adam Taggart – Newcastle Jets (16 Goals)
Goal of the Year Orlando Engelaar: (for Melbourne Heart, R.24 v Central Coast)
Coach of the Year: Mike Mulvey (Brisbane Roar)
Fair Play Award: Brisbane Roar
Referee of the Year: Peter Green

W-League 2013/14 Awards
Julie Dolan Medal: Tameka Butt (Brisbane Roar)
Young Player of the Year: Stephanie Catley (Melbourne Victory)
Player’s Player of the Year: Jessica Fishlock (Melbourne Victory)
Goalkeeper of the Year: Melissa Barbieri (Adelaide United)
Golden Boot: Jodie Taylor (Sydney FC) 10 goals
Goal of the Year: Sally Shipard (for Canberra United, round 11 v Newcastle Jets)
Coach of the Year: Alen Stajcic (Sydney FC)
Fair Play Award: Brisbane Roar, Melbourne Victory, Newcastle Jets FC
Referee of the Year: Casey Reibelt

National Youth League 2013/14 Awards
Player of the Year: Brandon Borrello (Brisbane Roar)
Golden Boot: Anthony Costa (Adelaide United) 14 Goals*
Fair Play Award: Melbourne Victory


Brisbane into a third Grand Final

(Matt Roberts/Getty Images AsiaPac)

(Matt Roberts/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Brisbane Roar 1 (Berisha)
Melbourne Victory 0
28,503 @ Lang Park, Brisbane

Brisbane:
Theo, Franjic, North, Smith, Stefanutto, Miller, Brattan, McKay, Petratos, Broich, Berisha.
Substitutions: Henrique for Petratos (79’), Lustica for Miller (90’)
Unused Substitutes: Acton, Donachie, Solórzano.
Yellow Cards: Miller.
Red Cards: Nil

Melbourne:
Coe, Geria, Ansell, Contreras, Traore, Milligan, Broxham, Finkler, Troisi, Thompson, Barbarouses.
Substitutions: Mahazi for Broxham (69’), Nabbout for Contreras (83’)
Unused Substitutes: Thomas, Murnane, Jeggo.
Yellow Cards: Traore, Broxham.
Red Cards: Nil.

It was tight, it was tense, but ultimately Brisbane Roar are through to their third Grand Final in four seasons next Sunday against Western Sydney Wanderers thanks to a strike from Besart Berisha. A lot of the focus going into the game was surrounding the Albanian, with some fearing his commitment to the cause. I think he more than answered those critics yesterday, not just with the goal, but also his all around play.

The game itself wasn’t a classic with few chances for either team throughout the 90 minutes, although Brisbane controlled large periods of the game both in terms of possession and territory. Melbourne meanwhile were more of a threat on the counter attack, albeit more so late in the game as they desperately pushed for an equaliser- more on all that late drama in a moment.

Brisbane’s only goal of the afternoon came down the left hand side when Berisha exploited space in the vacant RB position for the Victory. The finish itself was probably a tad lucky and Coe will probably be unhappy at being beaten on his near post, nevertheless the ball went into the net and that’s all that really matters.

Victory came home strong with a late push and most people I’ve spoken to believe that the visitors should have been awarded a penalty as the clock ticked over into stoppage time after Smith appeared to clip Milligan. I have to say I thought it was a penalty. From there they went even closer still with a combination of Matt McKay and Theo scrambling the ball clear from right on the goal line as Victory surged forward looking for an equaliser.

Stats:
Screenshot_2014-4-28 15.31.24

Up next:
Orange Sunday 3! Next Sunday against Western Sydney Wanderers in the seasons showpiece game. Kick-off is set down for 4.00pm with tickets on sale for members today, and the general public Wednesday. More on the build-up to the final throughout the week.


Semi Final Preview: Brisbane Roar vs. Melbourne Victory

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After a weekend off, the finals have finally arrived for Brisbane as Melbourne come to town to fight it out for a spot in next weekends Grand Final and the two sides couldn’t have had more contrasting build-ups. Brisbane have had what some would consider the ideal preparation with a weekend off to freshen up, while the Victory have been playing both in the Elimination Finals, and then flying to South Korea and back on AFC Champions League duty.

Despite that this weekend’s game should yet another close contest, as most of the games this season between the two sides have proven to be. For the majority of the time Brisbane have shown they are capable of breaking down the Victory defence and creating good goal scoring chances, while the Victory have had some success against Brisbane in the transition game and will no doubt take notice of the job Phil Moss and Mariners did in Brisbane two weekends ago. Victory aren’t all about just counter-attacking and transition, but against Brisbane that’s the way they’ve gone into games this season, especially since Kevin Muscat has come in to replace Postecoglou and I see no reason why Sunday’s game will be any different. Brisbane should have more of the ball, but they must create the chances they couldn’t against the Mariners, and they also must be wary of threat in transition the likes of Thompson, Barbarouses and Troisi will provide. One are Brisbane will have a massive advantage is in the fresh legs department, especially as the game progresses and possibly into extra time. That will only be a factor however if they can replicate the free-flowing football we’ve seen all reason, using the width and dragging Melbourne out of position.

One interesting sub plot to the game is surrounding Besart Berisha, who will make his first appearance of the season against Melbourne, the side he’s agreed to join as the marquee player from next season. Im sure he’ll be up for it big time on Sunday, looking no doubt to prove a point that he’s still 100% committed to the cause here in Brisbane. Hopefully that enthusiasm and passion exudes itself in goals like we’ve seen for nearly three seasons now, rather than the rash and reckless challenges we’ve seen in recent weeks.

Form:
Brisbane:
LDWWD
Melbourne: WWDDL*
* A-League only.

Top Scorer:
Brisbane: Besart Berisha (11)
Melbourne: James Troisi (12)

Brisbane Roar squad:
1.Michael Theo (GK), 2.Matthew Smith (C), 3.Shane Stefanutto, 5.Ivan Franjic, 7.Besart Berisha, 8.Steven Lustica, 10.Henrique, 11.Liam Miller, 13.Jade North, 14.Diogo Ferreira, 15.James Donachie, 16.Jean Carlos Solórzano, 17.Matt McKay, 18.Luke Brattan, 19.Jack Hingert, 20.Matthew Acton (GK), 22.Thomas Broich, 23.Dimitri Petratos (Two To Be Omitted)
In: 14.Diogo Ferreira (Promoted), 16.Jean Carlos Solórzano (Promoted)
Out: Nil
Unavailable: 25.George Lambadaridis (Knee – Season)

Brisbane are going into the finals with what is seemingly the perfect preparation. Not only have they had a fortnight off after the loss to the Mariners, but Mike Mulvey essentially has a full squad to choose from. Mulvey has pretty much flagged his intentions when it comes to the starting line-up, which is expected to mirror the side that lost to the Mariners two weeks ago. Despite some recent criticisms over his age and form Shane Stefanutto will start the game at left back, over the younger Diogo Ferreira who has been in good form in his last couple of appearances. The bigger intrigue for Brisbane will likely surround who is going to be on the bench and more specifically will striker Jean Carlos Solórzano earn a place back in the squad. I think that ultimately he will regain his spot on the substitute’s bench, in place of one of the defenders.

Expected Starting XI:
Theo, Franjic, North, Smith, Stefanutto, Miller, Brattan, McKay, Petratos, Broich, Berisha.
Substitutes: Acton, Donachie, Lustica, Henrique, Solórzano.

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, 11.Connor Pain, 13.Andrew Nabbout, 14.James Troisi, 16.Rashid Mahazi, 17.James Jeggo, 20.Lawrence Thomas (GK), 22.Jesse Makarounas, 23. Adrian Leijer, 25.Jason Geria (Two to be omitted)
In: 23. Adrian Leijer (returns from injury), 22. Jesse Makarounas (promoted), 13. Andrew Nabbout (promoted)
Out: 24. Scott Galloway (hamstring – tbc)
Unavailable: 21. Tom Rogic (groin – tbc)

Victory will be going into this game on the back of a midweek trip to South Korea which ultimately saw them fall just short of a knockout round spot against Jeonbuk. They did however leave a couple of key players at home for the midweek trip, including skipper Mark Milligan, top scorer James Troisi and Gui Finkler who isn’t in their ACL squad, so they will have some reinforcements waiting for them here in Australia. Adrian Leijer returned from injury in the Champions League, however after limping off injured he may only be fit enough to start on the bench which would result in young Nick Ansell starting alongside Contreras, while Rogic is still out with that groin injury. With Galloway injured ex Roar NYL defender Jason Geria will come into the side, as will another ex Brisbane player Kosta Barbarouses- along with the rested Milligan, Finkler and Troisi. There may be some rotation due to tired legs, but with the season on the line now with no more Champions League you’d expect them to go for it.

Expected Starting XI:
Coe, Geria, Contreras, Leijer, Traore, Broxham, Milligan, Finkler, Troisi, Barbarouses, Thompson.
Substitutes: Thomas, Ansell, Jeggo, Pain, Nabbout.

Meetings this season:

Round 3:
Melbourne Victory
(1) Troisi
Brisbane Roar (0)

The backdrop of this game was really the main story as this was Ange Postecoglou’s final game in charge of the Victory before he left to take over the Socceroos job, and Melbourne sent him out a winner with the only goal from James Troisi. The goal –which to date is the only one the Victory have scored against Brisbane this season- came in transition down their left hand side as Troisi made a run that was left un-tracked before beating Theo from a narrow angle. Melbourne had the better of the game that night at Docklands it has to be said, however that’s not to say Brisbane didn’t have some positive aspects to their play. While on the day they struggled to create any clear cut chances, they did have a lot of nice play, with the full-backs getting forward often on the day. Unfortunately there were largely limited to shots from outside the penalty area.

Round 13:
Melbourne Victory
(0)
Brisbane Roar (3) Miller, Petratos, McKay

Well if in the first meeting Brisbane failed to create the scoring chances, they certainly did so in this meeting at the Swan St. Stadium including what was one of the goals of the season with 28 consecutive passes in the build-up from Liam Miller. Another well worked goal for McKay and a third from an inform Dimitri Petratos made sure of the points. Victory couldn’t deal with the pace, movement and speed of play on the day in what was one of Brisbane’s best performances of the season- if not the best with the hosts struggling to get out of their half at times. They did however have a chance early on in the game where Theo denied Barbarouses which could have seen the game head in a completely different direction.

Round 24:
Brisbane Roar
(1) Brattan
Melbourne Victory (0)

This game was billed as the coronation for Brisbane to secure the Premiership, and after a tense 90 minutes Brisbane were infact crowned Premiers following a long range strike for Luke Brattan. The game itself saw Brisbane create a host of fantastic chances, with young Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas pulling out a string of impressive saves to keep his side in the game. Victory still looked to counter on the night –albeit with less success-, however with the signing of Tom Rogic they were more capable of holding onto the ball. It was once again Barbarouses who had the best chance for Melbourne, however he was once again denied- this time by Diogo Ferreira.

So all up Brisbane have picked up six points out of nine against the Victory, scoring four goals to just one for their opponents. Perhaps more pertinently they have won both games against the Muscat coached Melbourne, while also having the better of the game on both occasions to date.

Tale of the tape:
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FFA Cup Qualification- Brisbane R4 + Regional finals

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The road to the FFA Cup main draw continues this week as Round 4 of the Brisbane Canale Cup commences. This round sees the entrance of the BPL side, with the NPL Queensland sides entering after this round. Currently we are 4 rounds from deciding the sides who will enter the FFA Cup main draw in July.

Here’s the fixtures:

Brisbane:
Tuesday April 15:
Bayside vs. Ipswich Knights.
Holland Park vs. Uni. of Qld.

Wednesday April 16:
Capalaba vs. North Star
Centenary vs. Virginia
Bris. Force vs. Lions
Logan Lightning vs. The Gap
Easts vs. Wolves
Western Spirit vs. Kangaroo Point

Thursday April 17:
Annerley vs. Rochedale
Pen Power vs. Albany Creek

The draw for round 5 of the Brisbane zone will be drawn at the conclusion of this round.

Regional Queensland:
Tuesday April 15:
South-West Queensland Zone
South-West Qld Thunder vs. Willoburn.
Winner goes on to play Palm Beach in the SW Qld/GC zone playoff.

Wednesday April 16:
North Queensland Zone
Northern Fury vs. Townsville Brothers
Winner goes on to play the winner of FNQ Heat vs. Mareeba United.

Sunday April 20:
Far North Queensland Zone
FNQ Heat vs. Mareeba United
Winner goes on to play winner of Northern Fury vs. Townsville Brothers

Wednesday April 23:
Sunshine Coast Zone
Sunshine Coast Fire vs. Caloundra
Winner goes on to play Gympie Diggers in the Wide Bay-Sunshine Coast zone playoff

Saturday April 26:
Central Queensland Zone:
Southside United vs. Clinton SC
Winner goes on to play CQFC in the Central Qld zone final.


Mariners hit Brisbane in transition to end regular season

Brisbane Roar 0
Central Coast Mariners 2
At Lang Park, Brisbane

Brisbane have ended the regular season in disappointing fashion with a 2-0 loss to Central Coast Mariners. The game had little meaning for either side after earlier results, and Brisbane played like it struggling to get out of second gear and create the clear cut scoring chances they’re accustomed to. Part of that however must be attributed to the Mariners tactics, as first half goals from ex Brisbane attacker Nick Fitzgerald and Anthony Caceres locked up third spot for the visitors.

Brisbane worked hard and probed for an opening, but in truth the lack of intensity in the game didn’t help Brisbane. Berisha had a couple of decent chances –scored one that was correctly ruled offside, and the hit the post- but those chances aside there wasn’t a lot. Central Coast did a good job to limit Brisbane to longer range efforts which were off target all night. All week we heard Mulvey bemoaning the lack of intensity at training saying the proof would be in the pudding, and I think it’s fair to say that was the case. The effort was definitely there, but they were just 10% off their normal level all across the park.

Central Coast however came with a very specific game plan and they executed it very well. A key part of their strategy was for Montgomery to drop into the backline to create a back five, while pushing up into a #6 role while in possession. It worked well in two respects as it both put extra numbers around Berisha, and also allowed the fullbacks and even the centre backs to get out to the wider areas and stop Brisbane’s rotations in those areas. Both of those things forced Brisbane to go more central which is why Petratos and Broich tucked in more than usual last night.

Going forward, the plan was basically to have Ibini, Duke and Fitzgerald bomb forward and get in behind Brisbane’s full-backs in transition, and that’s where the first goal came from. Stefanutto was caught high up the pitch which left the space in behind and despite Broich tracking back well they couldn’t cut out the chance. The second goals was simply a solid strike from outside the box, however if you wanted to be critical you could say he should have been closed down earlier.

Up next:
Brisbane has a weekend off after securing the top spot in the regular season and have some work to do before their semi-final which is tentatively scheduled for Sunday April 27. That may change due to some clubs having ACL commitments, however Friday night is already out due to the stadium already being booked. Last nights results mean that Brisbane cannot play either Western Sydney or Central Coast- Wanderers because they’ve finished second, and Mariners because they’ve finished third and cannot be the lowest placed winner from the first week of finals. That means Brisbane will play one of Melbourne, Adelaide or Sydney/Newcastle, depending on winners in the first week of the finals.

Stats:
Screenshot_2014-4-13 15.19.8


Round 27 Match Preview: Brisbane vs. Central Coast

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Going into the last week Brisbane will be looking to round out a successful season with a win, more importantly however they’ll be looking for some momentum going into the finals. With the way the season has panned out, there’s a chance Brisbane may face the Mariners again in two weeks time in the semi-finals as well, so getting a psychological advantage over them is also important. For the Mariners, they’ll be hoping for a little help from the Heart as they chase a top two spot and they will need to better the result of the Wanderers in order to get that. Should both teams win, then Central Coast will need to win by 9 goals more than the Wanderers do in order to get second- that aint happening. That fact will probably be a big factor in their decision making for this game as if second spot is gone by the time they hand in their team sheet they may rest some players.

Brisbane:

Squad:

1) 1. Michael Theo (gk), 2. Matthew Smith (c), 3. Shane Stefanutto, 5. Ivan Franjic, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Steven Lustica, 10. Henrique, 11. Liam Miller, 13. Jade North, 14. Diogo Ferreira, 15. James Donachie, 16. Jean Carlos Solórzano, 17. Matt McKay, 18. Luke Brattan, 19. Jack Hingert, 20. Matthew Acton (gk), 22. Thomas Broich, 23. Dimitri Petratos.

Unavailable: 25.George Lambadaridis (knee – season)

Mike Mulvey has pretty much flagged his intentions for this game –and the finals- by saying that his strongest XI will take the field on Saturday and that the spots for the semi-final starting side will be there’s to lose. That means that Ferreira, Lustica, Brown, Henrique, Solórzano and Donachie are all fighting for the four outfield bench spots. The training in Mike’s estimation hasn’t been fantastic this week, but despite that I can’t see him changing his thinking. Who amongst those get the bench spots is anyone’s guess, although it’s fair to assume Henrique will be one of the four outfield substitutes. At a guess I’ll say Donachie, Lustica, Henrique and Solórzano will be joining Acton on the bench. Taking his comments into account, there will be two changes for this weekends game; Franjic will come in at RB in place of Hingert, while Berisha returns from suspension up top in place of Solórzano.

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

Central Coast:

Squad:
1.Justin Pasfield (Gk), 3.Joshua Rose, 5.Zachary Anderson, 6.Brent Griffiths, 7.John Hutchinson (C), 8.Nick Montgomery, 9.Mitchell Duke, 11.Nick Fitzgerald, 12.Liam Reddy (Gk), 15.Storm Roux, 17.Anthony Caceres, 19.Matt Simon, 20.Bernie Ibini, 21.Mile Sterjovski, 25.Eddy Bosnar, 26.Kim Seung-Yong, 27.Isaka Cernak, 28.Glen Trifiro.

Unavailable: 10 Marcos Flores (knee – season), 14.Michael McGlinchey (on loan – Vegalta Sendai), 18.Michael Neill (knee – season), 23.Adam Kwasnik (knee – season)

What the Mariners opt to go with is largely dependant on the situation of the table going into the game. If second is out of reach they’ll probably rest a few key players given they’ve got a big ACL game midweek at home to FC Seoul. But for the purposes of this we’ll assume they’re going in full strength. There’s some guesswork here but I think that Ibini is likely to come in so they can utilise his pace on the counter, with one of Fitzgerald or Seung-Yong to drop out of the XI. I also expect that Nick Montgomery will return to the starting line-up this week.

Expected Central Coast XI: Reddy, Roux, Anderson, Bosnar, Rose, Hutchinson, Montgomery, Sterjovski, Fitzgerald, Ibini, Simon.
Substitutes: Pasfield, Griffiths, Caceres, Seung-Yong, Duke.
Omitted: Cernak, Trifiro.

This season:
Round 5: Central Coast 0-1 Brisbane
Round 17: Brisbane 2-1 Central Coast

Brisbane will be out to complete a regular season clean sweep of the Mariners for the first time tomorrow night after two reasonably comfortable wins so far this season. While the Mariners have had their moments in the two games so far this season, Brisbane have controlled the vast majority of both games and ran out deserved winners in both games.

Tale of the tape:
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Brisbane bring point home from Parramatta

Brisbane Roar 1 (Miller)
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Juric)
At Parramatta Stadium, Sydney

Brisbane and Western Sydney played out an entertaining and evenly contested 1-1 draw last night after Tomi Juric’s second half goal ruled out Liam Miller’s earlier strike- his third in Brisbane colours. The result see’s Brisbane move 13 points clear at the top after other results this weekend, and gives Brisbane something of a psychological edge going into the finals with one win and two draws in three meetings with the Wanderers.

Brisbane played well in the opening half having the line share of possession and they created a couple of good openings. The Wanderers had their own moments –albeit fewer- in the first half, but it was Brisbane who went in ahead after Miller got on the end of a Petratos blocked shot. The goal was what could be described as ‘un-Brisbane’- in some respects as it came from a cross looking for Solórzano after which Petratos –who along with Hingert had a good game on the right- got the second ball, saw his shot blocked and Miller finished. It’s the first goal I can remember coming from a cross since the 2012 Grand Final.

The second half started out as more of the same for the opening 15 minutes and in truth Brisbane had the chances to put the game to bed, the best of which fell to McKay from a corner. The changes on the hour were influential in the outcome in the game, and I said at the time- one team is making a change with an eye on the finals, the other is chasing the game. While the Wanderers change was a positive one with Appiah coming on to replace the ineffectual Cole who had an impact, Brisbane opted to give Brattan an early break while also getting time into Donachie leading into the finals. The ensuring re-shuffle lead to the Wanderers goal, with Appiah putting a cross field ball which wasn’t dealt with and went all the way thru to Bridge on the left, who cut it back to an unmarked Juric to finish. Donachie didn’t start well once he came on, however as Mulvey said in the postgame that’s not a change he’d usually make.

From then on it was similar to the end of the last season with the Wanderers pushing hard for a winner and Brisbane defending well. They never got anything more than a few half chances, while Brisbane also had a couple of decent chances in the final moments. The Wanderers can also consider themselves lucky to finish with 10 after Appiah’s shocking challenge on Broich, which was evident given the marks on the German. A draw in the end however was a fair result, and a match-up we may yet see again at some stage of the finals.

Stats:
Screenshot_2014-4-6 16.1.53