A gutsy Brisbane Roar has etched its place in history, equaling the 74-yer-old mark of 35 unbeaten games following a 2-1 come from behind win over the Newcastle Jets at Ausgrid Stadium.
Brisbane are now level with NSW Rugby League club Eastern Suburbs who set the mark in the late 1930s and have the chance to break it next week at Suncorp Stadium.
The performance was not vintage Roar, but perseverance and determination were enough to secure a valuable three points on the road.
Brisbane won two free-kicks inside the first five minutes, with the second nearly providing the away team with the opening goal, but Mohamed Adnan hit his header from a Thomas Broich free-kick just over the bar.
On 10 minutes a flowing Brisbane move finished with Besart Berisha on the end of a perfect Massimo Murdocca pass but, despite turning his defender in the box, the Albanian striker’s shot on goal was weak and Ben Kennedy claimed the ball with ease.
Three minute later and Berisha was again in the perfect place, this time to meet a Shane Stefanutto cutback, but again Kennedy was in the right place to deny the Roar front man.
Henrique was the next to threaten, but like his striking counterpart, he shot didn’t have enough pace to beat Kennedy.
Newcastle had their first clear-cut chance immediately down the other end, when Ryan Griffiths found himself on the end of the perfect through ball in the box, but Roar custodian stayed big to deny him.
There was action at both ends with Issey Nakajima-Farran and Labinot Haliti both having chances, but both keepers were able to save comfortably.
The drinks break midway through the first half changed the momentum of the match, with Newcastle returning from the short break to take control of the match.
Theoklitos had to be at his best to deny Jobe Wheelhouse a headed goal with a full stretch fingertip save on a ball headed for the inside of the post.
On the stroke of half time, Newcastle got the goal their pressure had been pointing to when Griffiths again put himself on the end of the perfect through ball, this time knocking the ball past Theoklitos to open the scoring.
Newcastle went on the front foot in the second half and only alert work from Theoklitos denied Jeremy Brockie a goal inside the first minute of the restart.
The Jets lost their keeper not long after when he copped a knee from his own defender and had to be replaced by debutant Jack Duncan.
Brisbane were next to score though after a sweeping went wide to Nakajima-Farran and his ball across the face of Newcastle’s goal was met by Henrique on the far post to level the scores.
The Canadian international had two chances in a minute to put Brisbane in front but he dragged one shot wide and had the second well saved by Duncan.
The high tempo nature of the match meant fatigue played its part in the final 15 minutes of the match as both teams pushed for the decisive goal to grab all three points.
Super sub James Meyer was the one to put the away side in the box seat with a goal from a corner variation just three minutes after taking the park.
Seven minutes were added to the end of the match following Kennedy’s injury and at the start of the added time Berisha had the ball in the back of the net, but he was correctly flagged for offside in the lead-up play.
However, Brisbane finished strongly to secure the win.
Brisbane Roar Head Coach Ange Postecoglou said he was delighted with his team’s determination to work through until the final whistle to get something out of the game.
“It was a tough game coming down here and they worked very hard to stop us playing and were successful at that to a certain degree,” Postecoglou said.
“But I just thought it was a fantastic effort by the players not to give in and lose their self belief even when they were under pressure.
“We knew in last half hour we could over run (Newcastle) because they were working so hard, particularly in the opening 45 minutes.
“Michael pulled off a couple crucial saves, but I felt it was only matter of time we wore them down and after we got that first goal we just over ran them.
“It points a lot to the character of this team that it’s not just about the football but the fighting spirit that they kept working until the end and didn’t give up.
“One thing is; we won’t stop.”
Newcastle Jets (Griffiths 45’)
Brisbane Roar (Henrique 56’, Meyer 83’)
Saturday, 19 November 2011
Venue: Ausgrid Stadium
Newcastle Jets: 1. Ben Kennedy (gk)( 30. Jack Duncan (gk) 52’), 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 6. Ben Kantarovski, 7. Kasey Wehrman (25. Jacob Pepper 71’), 8. Jeremy Brockie, 10. Ruben Zadkovich, 11. Tarek Elrich, 12. Jobe Wheelhouse (c), 13. Sung-Hwan Byun, 14. Labinot Haliti (24. Francis Jeffers 74’), 23. Ryan Griffiths
Substitutes not used: 2. Taylor Regan
Yellow cards: Kantarovski (5’), Topor-Stanley (89’)
Red cards: Nil
Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael Theoklitos (GK), 2. Matt Smith (Capt.)( 19. Jack Hingert 46’), 3. Shane Stefanutto, 5. Ivan Franjic, 6. Erik Paaratlu, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 10. Henrique (21. James Meyer 80’), 11. Issey Nakajima-Farran (18. Luke Brattan 75’), 16. Mohamed Adnan, 22. Thomas Broich
Substitutes not used: 30. Matt Acton (GK)
Yellow cards: Henrique (30’), Adnan (40’), Berisha (73’), Franjic (90+6’)
Red cards: Nil