Two second-half goals to Albanian striker Besart Berisha were not enough for Brisbane Roar who fell to a 3-2 loss to Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park.
Brisbane made the job difficult for themselves by falling 3-0 down before a Melbourne Heart send off and a late rally nearly saw the away side snatch a point in the Victorian capital.
Erik Paartalu went close early when he got on the end of a Thomas Broich corner, but former Roar custodian Andrew Redmayne was in the right place to clear the ball to safety.
Despite dominating possession early, Brisbane nearly let Heart in when Jonathan Germano split the defence with a pass, but Michael Theo was on his toes to collect at the feet of Josip Tadic as he bore down on goal.
It was a warning not heeded by the away side and they fell behind a minute later when Richard Garcia played a reverse ball into the box for David Williams and the pacy winger made no mistake from just inside the box.
Brisbane responded to conceding the goal by taking control of possession, but struggled for penetrating play around the Heart’s defensive penalty area.
The away side were dealt a further blow on 37 minutes when Michael Marrone played the ball through to Tadic who slotted past Theo from a clear offside position, but the flag didn’t go up and the goal was allowed to stand.
Brisbane, however, responded positively and Paartalu found himself on the end of a Broich cutback, but Redmayne was down sharply to his left to stop the goal-bound effort.
Head Coach Mike Mulvey made a switch at the break, bringing Nick Fitzgerald on for Massimo Murdocca in an effort to find some spark for his side.
Brisbane were to fall even further behind on 53 minutes though, again from a counter, as Aziz Behich sprinted down the left the before putting the ball perfectly into the path of Fred who scored despite Theo getting a hand on the Brazilian’s effort.
Brisbane mustered a couple of shooting opportunities following the goal, but the efforts sailed just the wrong side of the woodwork.
Williams then found himself in the sheds for an early shower when he was shown a straight red card for a studs up tackle on Ivan Franjic.
The twists and turns didn’t stop there with Heart captain Fred turning from hero to villain after conceding a penalty for a foul on Halloran which Besart Berisha put away comfortably.
Berisha was at it again two minutes later when he calmly slotted home after a one-two pass with Thomas Broich on the edge of the box.
Brisbane endeavoured to find the goal which would have secured them a point, but despite their best efforts – and an excellent headed effort by Nichols in stoppage time – Heart held on to take all three.
Mulvey said he was pleased by the response of his players to get themselves into a position to secure a result, but said there was still plenty of work to be done by everyone.
"We have a no excuses and no regrets policy," Mulvey said. "We'll work on the things that need working on.
"I take responsibility for today, I changed the system before the game. It's something we've been working on this week.
"We'll go back and work on things as I promised the fans of Brisbane. We will work on everything to get better and improve."
Melbourne Heart 3(Williams 13’, Tadic 35’, Fred 53’)
Brisbane Roar 2 (Berisha 74’, 76’)
at AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Alan Milliner
Melbourne Heart: 2. Michael Marrone, 4. Simon Colosimo, 5. Fred (capt)( 14. Golgol Mebrahtu 81’), 6. Patrick Gerhardt, 8. Matt Thompson, 10. Josip Tadic (9. Dylan Macallister 81), 11. Richard Garcia, 13. Jonathan Germano (17. Jason Hoffman 62’), 15. David Williams, 16. Aziz Behich, 20. Andrew Redmayne (GK).
Substitutes not used: 1. Clint Bolton (GK).
Yellow cards: Behich (49’), Garcia (64’), Redmayne (65')
Red cards: Williams (67’)
Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael Theo (GK), 2. Matt Smith (capt), 3. Shane Stefanutto, 4. Matt Jurman (21. James Meyer 75’), 5. Ivan Franjic, 6. Erik Paartalu (25. George Lambadaridis 75’), 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca (24. Nick Fitzgerald 46’), 11. Ben Halloran, 17. Mitch Nichols, 22. Thomas Broich.
Substitutes not used: 20. Matt Acton (GK).
Yellow cards: Halloran (19’)
Red cards: Nil.