An improved Brisbane Roar couldn’t hold out competition newboys Western Sydney Wanderers at Suncorp Stadium, falling to a 2-1 loss despite taking a first half lead through midfielder Mitch Nichols.
After last Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Newcastle Jets, Head Coach Mike Mulvey reinstated Massimo Murdocca into the starting side while the departure of Erik Paartalu and injury to captain Matt Smith meant the inclusion of Luke Brattan and Matt Jurman.
Brisbane showed signs of improvements from its last performance from referee Matt Gillett’s opening whistle, their movement on and off the ball slicker than in previous weeks, resulting in a deserved lead after 22 minutes.
The ball sprayed wide on the right wing, giving Ben Halloran some work to do to keep it in play before he played it back to Besart Berisha on the edge of the penalty box.
The Alabanian striker tapped the ball forward to Brattan, who was edging his way forward and as the Wanderers defence closed in, the ball fell to Nichols who did well to slide it to Ante Covic’s right from close range.
Wanderers’ coach Tony Popovic’s half-time team talk seemed to strike a chord with the away side, the visitors producing more chances in the first fifteen minutes after the break than they did in the whole opening half.
First, Labinot Haliti clipped the crossbar after he latched onto a long ball from skipper Michael Beauchamp before Mark Bridge, who scored the winner in the first meeting between these two sides back in October, sent his first time shot wide after he was picked out by Shinji Ono.
Brisbane then had a pair of chances of their own, Halloran shooting wide after a quick counterattack with Broich then the German playmaker opted to play a one-two with Berisha two minutes later when he could have been more selfish and take the shot himself.
The missed chances proved costly soon after, when the Wanderers scored twice in four minutes to snatch the lead.
Bridge scored first for Western Sydney, striking the ball from 20 yards after he was teed up by a quick run from Jerome Polenz before Youssouf Hersi slalomed into the penalty box to beat Theo after confusion about a possible offside by Ono.
Changes late in the game saw a Roar debut to 18-year-old Julius Doe at the top end of the attack and a Hyundai A-League debut for the club’s National Youth League captain Corey Brown, but the fresh legs weren’t enough to turn Brisbane’s fortune around and the match ended 2-1.
Mulvey said he and his players were bitterly disappointed with the result, but could find positives in the performance.
“What I will say is there are many bigger clubs in the world than Brisbane Roar who have gone through rough trots, like we are having from a results perspective,” he said.
“But if you look at the performance from last week and the performance this week, it was much improved, there was much more quality.
“One thing I promise is that we are hurting, there’s no doubt about that, we are hurting badly but we also have a desire to improve.
“If you look at last week to this week, the improvement was good in terms of performance and in effort.”
Brisbane Roar 1 (Mitch NICHOLS 22’)
Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (Mark BRIDGE 65’, Youssouf HERSI 69’
Sunday, 20 January 2013
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 4pm local time
Referee: Matt Gillett
Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEO (gk), 3. Shane STEFANUTTO (c), 4. Matt JURMAN (26. Corey BROWN 81’), 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 7. Besart BERISHA, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 11. Ben HALLORAN (12. Julius DOE 81’), 15. James DONACHIE, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 18. Luke BRATTAN (25. George LAMBADARIDIS 54’), 22. Thomas BROICH
Substitutes not used: 20. Matt ACTON
Yellow cards: Besart BERISHA 70’, Shane STEFANUTTO 72’
Red cards: Nil
Western Sydney Wanderers: 1. Ante COVIC (gk), 3. Adam D’APPUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5. Michael BEAUCHAMP (c), 6. Jermone POLENZ, 7. Labinot HALITI (9. Dino KRESINGER 63’), 8. Mateo POLJAK, 10. Aaron MOOY, 17. Youssouf HERSI (18. Iacopo LA ROCCA 83’), 19. Mark BRIDGE, 21. Shinji ONO
Substitutes not used: 2. Shannon COLE, 20. Jerrad TYSON (gk)
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil