Besart Berisha’s 18th goal of the Hyundai A-League season has helped Brisbane Roar come from behind to snatch a point against Adelaide United, ending a hectic run of three games in nine days at Suncorp Stadium.
The men in orange came into the match with just one loss in their past 11 Hyundai A-League games and a victory against United would see them claim first place on the ladder, even if just temporarily with league leaders Central Coast Mariners away to Perth Glory in the following fixture.
It was against the run of play that Adelaide took the lead as the Roar dominated in all areas of the pitch early in the week 23 encounter.
Bruce Djite’s sprint down the right wing required just the deftest of touches from teammate Dario Vidosic, who set up the unmarked Iain Ramsey for the 14th minute opener.
Luke Brattan, in the starting eleven for the injured Massimo Murdocca, was instrumental in the midfield battle as Brisbane looked to regain the advantage.
However, his involvement in the match was short-lived after an awkward landing on his right knee was enough to see him stretchered off and Rocky Visconte was given an early opportunity to impress against his hometown club.
The home side had their chances in front of goal but nothing as clear cut as in the 36th minute when an overhead pass played Vidosic into action in front of goal.
His shot went agonisingly wide for United, even with just Brisbane goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos to beat.
The Roar struggled to find their typical fluency early in the second half and when the usually influential Thomas Broich skyrocketed a golden chance in the 64th minute, it seemed to sum up Brisbane’s night.
But the current Hyundai A-League champions refuse to give up and continued to inch their way back into the contest.
Issey Nakajima-Farran forced a reaction save from Mark Birighitti, the touch from the stand-in Adelaide shotstopper enough to force the ball out of the path of incoming striker Besart Berisha.
In the 70th minute, substitute Kofi Danning made the most of his cameo appearance as he chased a loose ball at the back, squeezing a ball through for Berisha to tap home and set up a nerve-wracking final 20 minutes.
A golden chance came as the match wore on with Broich finding himself in clear sight of goal, opting to pass to Danning instead of taking a shot on goal.
When the young striker played the one-two with Broich, the chance was gone as the Adelaide defenders regrouped and put players behind the ball.
Brisbane copped a late blow when Visconte, a first-half replacement for Brattan, was taken off after clutching his ankle and Head Coach Ange Postecoglou was forced to introduce defender Matt Jurman into the match.
Despite a late flurry of chances, including a rare header from Shane Stefanutto and a darting run into the penalty area from Nakajima-Farran, the match ended all square with Brisbane needing to rely on the Mariners to drop points later in the day if they want a realistic chance of retaining the Hyundai A-League Premiers’ Plate.
“Look, that’s how football goes sometimes,” Postecoglou said, post-match.
“We created enough opportunities to win the game and we just couldn’t take them.
“I can’t fault the effort of the players, I thought we kept our composure really well and it was a difficult game with Adelaide sitting back and scoring early obviously helped that scenario as well.
“We were always trying to force the play and you can easily get frustrated but I thought the boys kept their composure and waited for their opportunities and certainly created enough to win the game.”
Brisbane Roar 1 (Besart BERISHA 70’)
Adelaide United 1 (Iain RAMSEY 14’)
Sunday, 11 March 2012
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Crowd: 10, 739
Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Matt SMITH (c), 3. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Besart BERISHA, 11. Issey NAKAJIMA-FARRAN, 16. Mohamed ADNAN, 18. Luke BRATTAN (14. Rocky VISCONTE 27’ (4. Matthew JURMAN 88’)), 22. Thomas BROICH, 24. Nick FITZGERALD (9. Kofi DANNING 52’)
Substitutes not used: 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk)
Yellow cards: Ivan FRANJIC 79’
Red cards: Nil
Adelaide United: 2. Osama MALIK (4. Jonathan McKAIN 60’), 3. Nigel BOOGARD, 5. Daniel MULLEN, 6. CASSIO (c) (21. Francisco USUCAR 80’), 7. Zenon CARAVELLA, 10. Dario VIDOSIC (25. Evan KOSTOPOLOUS 77’), 11. Bruce DJITE, 12. Antony GOLEC, 14. Cameron WATSON, 17. Iain RAMSEY, 20. Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk)
Substitutes not used: 30. Paul IZZO (gk)
Yellow cards: Zenon CARAVELLA 38’, Osama MALIK 44’
Red cards: Nil