2015-16 Season Review- Part 1 (General Recap)

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Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a look back at the season that was, the success stories, the disappointments and take a brief look to what may lie ahead for next season. Later on we’ll look at different facets of the team and how the squad could be improved for next season, but for today we’ll start with a general overview of the season.

Pre-Season
The pre-season for Brisbane was without question the most traumatic time in the clubs eleven year history, with a host of off-field financial issues threatening to derail the clubs assault on the league for 2015-16.

Without wanting to go through all of the details, we saw the clubs Managing Director, Director of Football, First Team Manager and Assistants all depart early in the off-season, before legal issues surrounding unpaid bills threatened to have the club wound up. There were also monthly concerns surrounding player and staff wages, with the governing body coming very close to stepping in.

With the departures of GM Sean Dobson, Director of Football Ken Stead, Manager Frans Thijssen and his assistants Rado Vidosic and Jeff Hopkins, there were some holes to fill in the clubs senior football department.

David Pourre, who was serving as the clubs Commercial Manager, was appointed interim CEO, while former captain Craig Moore returned to the club in the role of Football Operations Manager. The managers role was rumoured to be filled by Auckland City boss Ramon Tribulietx, however ultimately the clubs board opted for former Melbourne Heart boss John Aloisi, who was appointed in late May. Aloisi brought his brother Ross with him as an assistant, with foundation Queensland Roar defender Karl Dodd joining as Conditioning Coach.

On the park, the off-season saw the departure of a number of players, with Serbian striker Andrija Kaluderovic and on loan midfielder Adam Sarota amongst them. There were none bigger however than Luke Brattan, who departed Brisbane after five seasons and 112 appearances for Manchester City due to the clubs financial dramas.

Coming in the other direction however was young Perth Glory striker Jamie Maclaren, who headed back East in search of regular first team football, while Spanish midfield duo Corona and Javier Hervas also arrived as the season got closer. George Lambadaridis- who was released in May- also returned to Brisbane in a short term injury replacement capacity to start the season.

The clubs 2015 FFA Cup campaign began at the height of the clubs financial crisis with an away tie to Western Sydney in the Round of 32 in mid August, and after a strong first half showing Gol Gol Mebrahtu won the game for the home side, ending the Roars second FFA Cup campaign at the first hurdle.

Elsewhere in the pre-season Brisbane had hit outs against likes of Melbourne Victory, Newcastle and Central Coast Mariners, with a win, draw and loss coming from the three games. The highlight of the pre-season however came right at the start with a glamour friendly against EPL side Liverpool, and after taking the lead thanks to Dimitri Petratos, the visiting English side fought back to secure a 2-1 Victory.

October
8th– Western Sydney Wanderers 1-3 Brisbane Roar
18th– Brisbane Roar 2-1 Central Coast Mariners
24th– Wellington Phoenix 3-2 Brisbane Roar
31st Brisbane Roar 3-0 Adelaide United

Brisbane’s 2015-16 season started with an away game to Western Sydney Wanderers, who were looking to rebuild following a tough season, but it was the Roar who got off to the perfect start with a brace from Jamie Maclaren and a third to Daniel Bowles giving Brisbane the first three points of the season.

Following a first home win of the season against Central Coast thanks to a Brandon Borrello brace, Brisbane travelled to Wellington and suffered their first loss of the season after falling on the wrong side of a five goal game. The month was rounded out with a comprehensive home win over a disjointed Adelaide side, which saw Brisbane sit top of the league following the opening month of the season.

November
6th– Sydney FC 0-0 Brisbane Roar
15th– Brisbane Roar 1-0 Perth Glory
20th– Brisbane Roar 1-1 Melbourne City
28th– Newcastle Jets 1-1 Brisbane Roar

November started with another trip to Sydney, this time to the Sky Blue half of the City with a 0-0 stalemate played out between two sides who took a cautious approach to the clash. The following weeks saw arguably the most heart-warming moment of the season from a Brisbane perspective, with Henrique returning from an eight month injury with a crucial winner from the substitutes bench.

The next week, Henrique repeated the trick against City in John Aloisi’ first clash against his former club to help secure a point in what would be Brisbane’s final home game for over a month with a five game road trip on the horizon. That road trip began with a trip to Newcastle, where Brisbane dropped two points after taking the lead against the Jets.

December
5th– Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 Brisbane Roar
12th– Brisbane Roar 2-1 Wellington Phoenix
20th– Central Coast Mariners 0-1 Brisbane Roar
27th Brisbane Roar 3-1 Melbourne City

December saw Brisbane start the month for the third successive time in the Harbour City with a trip to Parramatta amidst fan unrest, however unlike round one this time the Wanderers took the points thanks to a Mitch Nichols strike.

The following week saw one of the highlights of the season, which saw football head to Cairns for the first time though regional round clash against Wellington Phoenix. The weekend was from all reports a big success, with a strong crowd turning out to see the Roar come from behind to secure a 2-1 win.

Brisbane’s month long road trip was rounded out with a 1-0 win on the Central Coast, before returning to Suncorp Stadium for another clash with Melbourne City. In front of strong holiday crowd, Brisbane turned on the style to run out winners 3-1, with the third a long range effort from Henrique after City went for broke at a corner.

January
2nd– Brisbane Roar 2-1 Perth Glory
10th– Wellington Phoenix 0-0 Brisbane Roar
15th– Melbourne Victory 4-0 Brisbane Roar
22nd– Brisbane Roar 1-4 Adelaide United
30th– Sydney FC 1-3 Brisbane Roar

January began with another home win, this time over Perth Glory, however following this game young trio James Donachie, Brandon Borrello and Jamie Maclaren headed off to the Australian u-23 squad for the AFC u-23 Championships, missing the next three games. The next week saw Brisbane head across the Tasman, playing out a scoreless draw, despite having a penalty awarded and then taken away.

Next up was a first meeting of the season with defending champions Melbourne Victory, and after Brisbane seemingly suffered a dose of stage fright, the home side jumped out to a 2-0 lead inside the opening 10 minutes before running away 4-0 winners on the night. The next week, Brisbane suffered their first loss of the season at home with a 4-1 loss at home to Adelaide United.

The month rounded out with a trip to Sydney, and returning Olyroo Jamie Maclaren showed how much he was missed, scoring a brace in a 3-1 win. In the Olyroo trio’s absence, Brisbane scored just one goal –a dubious Henrique penalty- in roughly 300 minutes of game time.

February
6th– Brisbane Roar 4-0 Central Coast Mariners
12th– Brisbane Roar 2-2 Newcastle Jets
20th– Perth Glory 6-3 Brisbane Roar
27th– Adelaide United 3-0 Brisbane Roar

February started with a pair of home games against Central Coast and Newcastle, the first of which was a strong showing against the Mariners. The next week however saw Brisbane drop crucial points for the second time this season against the Jets, with defensive frailties again beginning to show their heads.

If defensive frailties were on evidence in the Newcastle game, they most certainly were on show in the next two weeks where Brisbane conceded a whopping nine goals. First up in the West Brisbane were hit for six by Perth Glory where defending at set pieces was thoroughly exposed, before going to Adelaide the next week and putting in a poor showing in a 3-0 defeat. Those back to back defeats saw Brisbane head into the final six rounds of the competition in a season low position of 4th.

March
4th– Brisbane Roar 3-2 Western Sydney Wanderers
12th– Brisbane Roar 5-0 Melbourne Victory
18th– Melbourne City 3-1 Brisbane Roar
26th– Brisbane Roar 3-2 Sydney FC

Massive March as it was dubbed began with the first of three high profile home matches against Western Sydney, and it became the start of what would become a run of miraculous late fight backs, with Dimitri Petratos rounding out the turn around following a Maclaren brace. The next week however there was no need for any late goals, with a Jamie Maclaren hat-trick setting up a massive 5-0 win over Melbourne Victory.

Brisbane then travelled to Melbourne for a top of the table clash with City, and after Dimitri Petratos gave the visitors the league, Jack Hingert picked up the Roar’s first –and only- red card of the season. City then pounced on the undermanned Brisbane side, running out 3-1 winners.

The next week threatened to see Brisbane’s Premiership hopes end completely when Sydney FC fought back to grab an equaliser in the 87th minute. That however only set the stage for super sub Henrique to secure the points straight from the kick-off to secure all three points.

April
3rd– Brisbane Roar 2-1 Newcastle Jets
9th– Melbourne Victory 0-0 Brisbane Roar
15th– Brisbane Roar 2-1 Melbourne Victory
24th– Western Sydney Wanderers 5-4 Brisbane Roar

The final month of the season saw Brisbane play the final home game of the regular season, and after conceding a penalty which threatened to derail the clubs top two hopes, Brisbane scored two goals in seven minutes, with the winner from Thomas Broich his first of the season, sending the Roar to the top of the table with just one road remaining.

After Adelaide went top the night before, Brisbane needed a win against the Victory away from home in the final round, and despite putting on one of their best road performances of the season, they couldn’t find a way through a resolute Victory side. That draw saw Brisbane end the regular season in third place, one point behind Premiers Adelaide, and behind second placed Western Sydney on goal difference.

That meant that Brisbane’s finals campaign began at home with a second straight clash against the Victory in what was billed as something of a revenge bout following the events of the previous week. The game itself was another classic, with Besart Berisha giving the visitors the lead inside the final five minutes, and just minutes after Jason Geria was sent off. This was however to prove to be the start of another late come back, with Matt McKay scoring barely a minute later to level the scores, before a 94t minute winner from Thomas Broich sent Brisbane through to the Semi-Finals.

That Semi-Final would be against the Wanderers, making this the fifth time the two sides met throughout the year, and the away side got off to a scarcely believable start with the Roar running out to a 3-0 lead after just 23 minutes. That would however prove to be a false dawn with Romeo Castelen leading the fight back for the home side, with his hat-trick helping to vault the Wanderers to a 4-3 lead. Jamie Maclaren then equalised for the Roar to send the game into extra time, before Dario Vidosic won the game for the home side, sending them to Adelaide for the Grand Final and ending the Roar’s season.

While the season ultimately ended with near misses and disappointed in both the Premiers Plate race and the Finals Series, it was remarkable that the club got so close to success given the turmoil of the off-season. All up while the season threatened to be a write off, we were treated to some fantastic moments and the Roar now head into the off-season in a position to build on the season and plan for another run at Silverware next season.

 

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