Brisbane Roar has secured a hard-fought point in match Head Coach Rado Vidosic said at times resembled a “dogfight”, sharing the spoils 1-1 with hosts Wellington Phoenix.
Concluding a tough opening three weeks of the season which has seen the side travel as far west and east as you can travel in the Hyundai A-League, Brisbane did enough to take home a valuable point at a venue where opposition teams have struggled to gain even that.
The match started off in a cagey fashion, with both teams having to come to grips with blustery conditions at Westpac Stadium.
Both had opportunities on the break in the opening 10 minutes, but neither could fashion an opportunity to trouble the keeper.
Wellington came within inches of opening the scoring when Leo Bertos whipped a ball across the face of Michael Theo’s goal but neither a lunging Jeremy Brockie of Paul Ifill could make contact with the goal at their mercy.
The home side continued to put Brisbane under pressure and the breakthrough came on 16 minutes.
The Roar failed to deal with a floating ball into the penalty area and Stein Huysegems pounced on the loose ball to put the ball in the back of the net past a helpless Theo.
It was very nearly 2-0 three minutes later but Theo this time was able to make a brilliant save from an Ifill free-kick from just outside the box.
As the half wore on Brisbane began to find their feet in the conditions and look to threaten the Phoenix defensive line.
Ifill was next to threaten though, latching on to a long ball from the back, but his shot was comfortably saved low by Theo.
Beart Berisha very nearly levelled the game on 30 minutes after some great work by Mitch Nichols down the right, but despite turning his defender he hit his shot directly at Mark Paston in the Phoenix goal.
Berisha then laid a chance on to Nichols in the 37th minute, but the midfielder couldn’t quite get the ball out from under his feet and once again the effort was comfortable for Paston to save.
The Roar were finally level on 39 minutes when Berisha delightfully chipped an onrushing Paston from the edge of the box, following a sublime flick on by Massimo Murdocca.
Left-back Shane Stefanutto nearly stole a cheeky goal with the last kick of the half when his cross from a lovely Matt Jurman through ball skewed off the side of his boot and spun just over Paston’s goal.
The second half began much as the first, with both sides struggling for cut-through in the forward third of the pitch.
Ifill looked the most likely for Wellington, while Thomas Broich looked to spark his team from midfield.
Berisha nearly had a fortunate second on 61 minutes when a deflected Murdocca shot hit the Albanian striker and trickled agonisingly the wrong side of the post.
The frustration around the edge of the box continued for the Roar as the half wore on, unable to find the killer pass to take control of the contest.
Wellington were next to go close when Jeremy Brockie made some space in the box from a Fenton cross, but the ball went wide of the far post with Theo looking to have it well covered.
Jack Hingert nearly had an opportunity in the final 10 minutes after good lead-up work by Murdocca and substitute Henrique, but lost his footing at the vital time allowing the Phoenix to clear the danger.
The home side pushed on in the final few minutes but the score stayed locked at 1-1.
Vidosic said he was content with his side’s performance in conditions they rarely face when playing at home.
“I’m very happy, it’s a very tough trip,” Vidosic said.
“The first three weeks of the A-League has been very tough for us with a trip to Perth, Victory at home and then another trip here.
“First 15 minutes was all Wellington, we knew they were going to come out (hard).
“I think the last 30 minutes of the first half we could have scored two or three goals and finish the game.
“Second half was all square…but unfortunately we couldn’t penetrate because they were so deep.”
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Huysegems 16’)
Brisbane Roar 1 (Berisha 39’)
21 October 2012
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Adam Kersey
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1. Mark Paston (GK), 2. Emmanuel Muscat, 3. Tony Lochhead, 5. Michael Boxall, 6. Alex Smith (17. Vince Lia 82’), 7. Leo Bertos, 8. Paul Ifill, 10. Stein Huysegems (61’), 11. Jeremy Brockie, 16. Louis Fenton (12. Tyler Boyd 70’), 18. Ben Sigmund (capt).
Substitutes not used: 20. Glen Moss (GK)
Yellow cards: Fenton (63’)
Red cards: Nil
Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Michael Theo (GK), 2. Matt Smith (capt), 3. Shane Stefanutto, 4. Matt Jurman, 6. Erik Paartalu, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 11. Ben Halloran (10. Henrique 77’), 17. Mitch Nichols, 19. Jack Hingert (13. Yuki Takahashi 90’+1), 22. Thomas Broich.
Substitutes not used: 20. Matt Acton (GK), 24. Nick Fitzgerald.
Yellow cards: Stefanutto (18’)
Red cards: Nil