Berisha Brisbane's saviour again
Controversial striker Besart Berisha has snatched a point for Brisbane Roar in an entertaining 1-1 draw against Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park.
Berisha received a one-match ban from the FFA Match Review Panel from his involvement in a post-match melee in the fiery clash with Sydney FC last week but was allowed to play because of his right to appeal and made his presence felt by firstly missing a first-half penalty and then scoring the equalising goal in the 69th minute.
If Heart, who took the lead just after the half hour through Jonatan Germano, felt a sense of injustice in Berisha's involvement, that was only heightened as they had several chances to win the game, including two penalty appeals late in the match.
They finish a run of three home matches in a week without win, having lost narrowly to both Perth Glory and Central Coast Mariners.
They slip to fourth behind Wellington Phoenix, who won on Friday night, while the Roar are now two points clear in second having now gone five games without defeat.
It was a ripping first 45 minutes, with Heart enjoying the fact that Roar came to play. The visitors were rewarded for their cavalier approach with two excellent chances inside the first ten minutes.
Both involved a very busy Thomas Broich, with Brendan Hamill sliding in to deny him a shot, before the German set-up Massimo Murdocca, who curled a shot over.
Heart's first decent chance fell to Alex Terra, who rounded keeper Michael Theoklitos, but created an angle which was too tight to score, with nobody in the middle to put it home.
After Issey Nakajima-Farran was booked for trying to win a penalty, Terra had another chance to score on 24 minutes, sliding in to meet a Aziz Behich cross, but knocking it wide.
That movement was to prove a precursor to the Heart's goal on 31 minutes. Behich was again brilliant down the left nut-megging Berisha and looping a cross for Terra to try an aerobatic effort which deflected off Mohamed Adnan and up for Germano to head home.
Stunned by the fact they had fallen behind, the Roar spent much of the rest of the half threatenong for an equaliser. Nakajima-Farran shot wide before a cut-back pass from Broich was handled by Germano in the box and a penalty was awarded.
However, Berisha hit the ball well over the bar much to the delight of the home crowd. Broich then had two more great chances to equalise in the final five minutes, firing one effort over and then prompting an excellent save from Bolton.
Broich resumed his battle with the goals after the break, trying this time to shoot from an acute angle but coming up with nothing.
Heart were then unlucky not to take a 2-0 lead on 55 minutes, when a Germano shot from a Terra cross was forced onto the post by a desperate Theoklitos. Eli Babalj hit two shots at the Brisbane stopper, but the experienced gloveman was equal to both of them.
The introduction of James Meyer allowed Roar to get more control up forward and the youngster played an important role in the equaliser. He received the ball from Broich and played in Ivan Franjic down the right.
Franjic cross was flicked up by Mitch Nichols and Berisha was there to head home from close range.
For from disheartened by the change in the scoreline, Heart set out after a winner and had two massive shouts for a penalty in the space of 30 seconds. The brilliant Behich then almost ended a length of the field run with a goal after his deflected shot just went wide.
Injuries to Sarkies and Hamill with ten minutes to go seemed to take the wind out of the home team's sails and while Roar went close to scoring yet another late winner, the honours were shared.
Melbourne Heart 1 (Germano 31)
< b>Brisbane Roar 1 (Berisha 69)
Crowd: 7118 at AAMI Park