2016-17 Season Review Part 1- Competition recap

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. In part one we’ll start by taking a look at how Brisbane’s season panned out across the various competitions.

August
Brisbane 0-2 Perth (FFA Cup)

FFA+Cup+Round+32+Brisbane+v+Perth+hYkvHeu9q-5x

Brisbane’s cup run ended early once again (Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Brisbane’s 2016-17 season began amongst clouds of uncertainty regarding the clubs ownership as the Roar hosted their first ever game in the FFA Cup against Perth. With just a handful of pre-season tune-up games prior to the Cup clash, Brisbane were looking to go beyond the round of 32 after falling at that stage a year ago against Western Sydney.

Two Dino Djulbic headers from corners in the first 20 minutes however put paid to that plan with the visitors going on to launch their own Cup campaign, while for Brisbane it would prove to be their last competitive game ahead of the season with questions about both the on field and off-field prospects at the forefront of peoples minds.
October
7th– Brisbane 1-1 Melb. Victory
16th– Newcastle 4-0 Brisbane
22nd– Central Coast 0-1 Brisbane
30th– Brisbane 2-1 Perth

The A-League season began on a cool October night at Suncorp Stadium against Melbourne Victory and after a slow start it was more last minute heroics following on the finals series from the season prior, with Luke DeVere scoring a 96th minute equaliser to earn Brisbane a point after Victory winger Mitch Austin opened the scoring midway through the second half.

Week 2 of the season saw Brisbane make their first trip away from home for the season, and much like the year before it was another day to forget with a comprehensive 4-0 loss away from home against Newcastle, with the Roar’s defensive issues away from Suncorp under John Aloisi appearing once again. In a positive sign however, this would prove to be Brisbane’s biggest loss of the League season, and their last away from home until December.

The month was rounded out with back to back wins against Central Coast and Perth Glory, with a Thomas Kristensen goal enough to give Brisbane a first win of the season in Gosford before attacking duo Jamie Maclaren and Brandon Borrello opened their accounts in a 2-1 win at home against the Glory.

November
4th– Brisbane 1-1 Melb. City
11th– Adelaide 1-1 Brisbane
19th– Brisbane 1-1 Sydney
25th– West Sydney 1-1 Brisbane

November started with Tim Cahill making the trip to Brisbane on a Friday night although the long time Socceroos striker was upstaged by his new National Team teammate, with Jamie Maclaren celebrating his call-up with the only goal of the game. The following week on the road saw Brisbane’s unbeaten run extend to four games after off-season signing Brett Holman opening his goal scoring account for the club, with key off-season addition Sergi Guardiola equalising for Adelaide.

Brisbane then returned home for the first clash of the season against Sydney FC and it was the visitors who had the better of the first half, with a combination of a Josh Brillante long range strike in addition to poor passing in the defensive third from the Roar helping the Sky Blues take the lead. A goal from Thomas Kristensen just before halftime levelled the scores before the second half turned into an end to end thriller which both sides could have profited from.

The month ended with an away trip to Western Sydney amid speculation that Jamie Maclaren either had , or would sign with the Wanderers and it was Brisbane’s #9 who opened the scoring from the penalty spot after being brought down by Jerrad Tyson. Jumpei Kusukami wound up equalising for the home side midway through the second half, making it four straight 1-1 draws in the month of November.

December
3rd– Melb. City 1-1 Brisbane 11th– Brisbane 4-0 Adelaide
18th– Central Coast 1-2 Brisbane
23rd– Brisbane 1-1 West Sydney
30th– Sydney 2-0 Brisbane

December started in controversy at AAMI Park in Melbourne, with Jade North going down softly in the build-up to City’s equaliser from Nicholas Colazo, after Jamie Maclaren opened the scoring for the visitors. Next up was Adelaide at home which meant a return to Suncorp Stadium for Brazilian-Australian Henrique, who was making his first trip back to Brisbane as an opposition player. It would prove a day to forget for Henrique however as Brisbane ran riot in a 4-0 win, the fourth of which came from the penalty spot after Henrique was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area. Thomas Kristensen’s brace in this game took his seasonal tally to four goals from six shots, not bad for a defensive midfielder.

League+Rd+10+Brisbane+v+Adelaide+2KEVShpbj3Tx

(Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Brisbane then made it nine games unbeaten with a second win of the season in Gosford against Central Coast Mariners, with Dimitri Petratos and Jamie Maclaren getting on the scoresheet. The pre-Christmas fixture saw Brisbane host the Wanderers and it was a night for spectacular goals as Corey Brown surged forward from left back to score on the half volley, before Dimas Delgado equalised from a free kick on the corner of the 18 yard box.

The final game of 2016 saw the league’s two most in form sides meet in Sydney with unbeaten Sydney FC playing host to the Roar, who had quietly gone about building their own 10 game unbeaten run. Goals from Alex Brosque and Milos Ninkovic snapped that run however, with Brisbane unable to get back into the game despite Brosque’s sending off early in the second half.

January
7th- Brisbane 2-3 Newcastle
13th– Melb. Victory 3-2 Brisbane
21st– Wellington 0-1 Brisbane
28th– Brisbane 2-1 West Sydney
31st– Brisbane 6-0 Global FC (ACL)

2017 began with another defeat after Newcastle Jets made the trip to Suncorp and continued their own excellent record here in Brisbane, picking up a 3-2 win thanks to an 84th minute winner from Morten Nordstrand. Brisbane then took their two game losing streak to Melbourne and left both Jamie Maclaren and Thomas Broich on the bench against the Victory, a game which was eerily similar to 12 months prior as the home side raced to a 3-0 lead after 27 minutes.

Unlike January 2016 however, Brisbane launched something of a fight back with a stunning free-kick  from Dimitri Petratos and an own goal from ex Roar defender James Donachie bringing the score line back to 3-2 by half-time. While there were no additional goals, there was a red card issued to Besart Berisha for striking the face of Luke Devere, a card which was ultimately overturned on appeal. It was also of no use to Brisbane, who once again failed to capitalise on a man advantage for a significant period of time.

With the losing streak now at three games, Brisbane made the trip across the Tasman to take on a Wellington side which had found some form under new coaching duo Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre. In what was an edgy and nervy game, a late goal from Jamie Maclaren was enough to win the game and end the unbeaten run. The final league game of January saw Brisbane pick up another customary late home winner, with Brett Holman’s stoppage time winner on return from injury enough to take the points from the Wanderers.

January concluded with Brisbane’s first incursion into the AFC Champions League for the campaign and although it was considered a formality, Brisbane did pick up the win over Filipino Champions Global FC, with Brandon Borrello scoring four goals in a 6-0 rout. The night is most fondly remembered for debuts to Dane Ingham and Joe Caletti, however sterner tests lay ahead on the continent in order to progress to the Group Stage.

February
3rd– Brisbane 1-1 Sydney
8th– Shanghai 0-2 Brisbane (ACL)
11th– Melb. City 2-2 Brisbane
18th– Perth 2-2 Brisbane
21st Brisbane 0-0 Muanthong (ACL)
26th– Brisbane 1-2 Wellington
28th– Ulsan 6-0 Brisbane (ACL)

February started with the third league clash of the season against Sydney FC, and the game was another thrilling encounter. While there were no goals, there was no shortage of goalmouth action, with goalkeepers Michael Theo and Danny Vukovic the best players on the park.

Attention then turned to an ACL playoff away to mega rich Shanghai Shenhua featuring Carlos Tevez and Obafemi Martins, with a group stage place on offer for the winner. Despite being considered outsiders for the encounter, it was a famous win for Brisbane Roar with wingers Brandon Borrello and Tommy Oar doing the damage in the first half to secure a Group Stage birth for the third time.

With a group stage berth secured, it was back to A-League action as Brisbane fielded rotated sides in away games against both Melbourne City and Perth, with 2-2 draws in both ensuring John Aloisi’ side maintain a top four place ahead of their busy upcoming schedule.

An ACL injury to Daniel Bowles in the dying minutes of the clash against City ended his season prematurely, with Australian born Greek international Avram Papadopoulos drafted in as an injury replacement. A-League action for the month ended with a shock loss at home to Wellington Phoenix , with a lethargic Brisbane punished by a very good Nix performance.

The month however concluded with the start of the ACL Group Stage campaign, which saw Brisbane and Muanthong United play out a 0-0 draw with plenty of chances for both sides. A week later Brisbane made the trip to 2012 Champion Ulsan Hyundai and the South Korean side –who also progressed to the Group Stage via the playoffs-, taught Brisbane a footballing lesson, handing out a 6-0 thumping to John Aloisi’ side.

March
3rd– Newcastle 1-3 Brisbane
14th– Kashima 3-0 Brisbane (ACL)
19th– Adelaide 2-1 Brisbane
25th– Brisbane 1-0 Melb. Victory

March began in the Hunter and it was a much better trip this time around for Brisbane with two goals from Jamie Maclaren and a first senior goal for Nicholas D’Agostino enough to pick up the win after Jets full-back Jason Hoffman was dismissed for two silly yellow card offences barely 60 seconds apart.

After a much needed break due to the A-League split round Brisbane returned to action in the Champions League away to 2016 Club World Cup finalists Kashima Antlers, with the result not much better than the last time away in Asia as the Japanese Champions ran out 3-0 winners.

The following weekend in Adelaide turned into a dramatic one with scores tied in injury time before Michael Theo was judged to have elbowed Reds defender Dylan McGowan. With Brisbane having used all three subs it was left to Thomas Kristensen to don the gloves and try to keep out Sergio Cirio’s spot kick. Kristensen’ efforts were in vein as the home side picked up a rare win in their spluttering title defence, but that wasn’t the end of the drama as Brisbane assistant Ross Aloisi picked up a four game touchline for an incident in the players tunnel with an Adelaide assistant.

March ended with a home clash against a depleted Melbourne Victory who needed the three points to keep their faint Premiership hopes alive, although those hopes were wiped out by a Jamie Maclaren lob as Brisbane’s #9 started to find his goal scoring form once again.

April
2nd– Brisbane 5-1 Central Coast
8th– Perth 3-1 Brisbane
12th– Brisbane 2-1 Kashima (ACL)
16th– Brisbane 4-3 Wellington
21st– Brisbane 1-1 (4-3) West Sydney 26th– Muanthong 3-0 Brisbane (ACL)
30th– Melb. Victory 1-0 Brisbane

April started with a home game against Central Coast which started out in a dull fashion but exploded into live in the second half after the Mariners took the lead. Jamie Maclaren scored the second fastest hat-trick in club history with three goals in eight minutes, before Thomas Broich and Nick D’Agostino rounded out the scoring.

With 3rd spot all but secured for a second straight season heading into the last two weeks of the regular season, John Aloisi took a weakened side to Perth and fielded another rotated side against Wellington in the regular season finale, with a 4-3 win over Wellington enough to absolutely guarantee a third place finish.

All of that rotation was with Matchday 4 of the Champions League in mind, and with Brisbane desperately needing all three points to keep their hopes of progression alive, goals from Jamie Maclaren and Brett Holman were enough to give the Roar their first win at home in the Champions League proper, at the 8th attempt.

The A-League finals began with an Elimination Final at home against Western Sydney and it just wouldn’t be Brisbane Roar if they didn’t have to come from a goal behind. Terry Antonis scored from the spot right on half time to give the Wanderers the lead going into the break, before Brandon Borrello’s shot cannoned back off the post to the onrushing Jamie Maclaren to equalise. That was the end of the scoring and so after an injury to Michael Theo which saw Jamie Young replace him in goals for the Roar, and a red card for Wanderers sub Jaushua Sotirio, the game went to penalties.

In that penalty shootout there were 11 excellent penalties from players on both side before Jamie Young emerged as the hero for the Roar, saving Jumpei Kusukami’ penalty to send Brisbane to the Semi-Finals against Melbourne the following week.

A-League Elimination Final - Brisbane v Western Sydney

Young was the hero in the penalty shooutout (Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Before that however was the not so small matter of Matchday 5 in the ACL, which saw Brisbane field essentially a youth team in their quest for the win which would keep their hopes alive. While that win was ultimately not forthcoming, it was a solid performance on the road by a number of Brisbane’s talented youngsters against a side packed full of Thai internationals. Making matters worse for the Roar was a nasty injury sustained by Jamie Young as he ripped skin off his arm on a rusty goalpost, which put his involvement in the Semi-Final in doubt.

Young would ultimately start that Semi-Final down in Melbourne and while he made his mark with some good saves it was to no avail as a fresh and energised Victory side ran Brisbane off the park, with Besart Berisha scoring the only goal of the game with 20 minutes remaining to send Victory to their fifth Grand Final.

May
10th Brisbane 2-3 Ulsan (ACL)

Brisbane’s season came to a close in May in the days following the A-League Grand Final and with Thomas Broich denied a playing farewell at Suncorp Stadium due to an ankle injury. With nothing riding on the game for either side, both Brisbane and Ulsan turned on attacking intent, with Jamie Maclaren signing off from two stellar years in Brisbane with a brace. It wasn’t enough however as the South Korean visitors took the points to secure third place in Group E.

While there were plenty of success stories along the way throughout the 2016-17 season it was another season of close, but not close enough for John Aloisi side who fell at the same stage in both the A-League and the FFA Cup for a second straight season. The addition of Champions League football added an extra level of difficulty this time around brought an additional challenge and also some great moments, and with another third placed finish there’s the chance to compete in Asia once again next year. With a bit of luck, and some solid recruitment, hopefully John Aloisi and the playing group will handle things as well next year, with some silverware thrown into the mix.

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