Melbourne Heart FC relinquished the Craig Foster Cup at Oakes Oval in Lismore on Sunday afternoon after succumbing to a Besart Berisha hat-trick against Brisbane Roar.
Melbourne Heart won the inaugural Craig Foster Cup last year when the Club travelled to Lismore for a pre-season camp and contested the trophy with Western Sydney Wanderers in a pre-season match.
However, Brisbane Roar claimed the pre-season Cup, which is a City of Lismore initiative, on Sunday afternoon in front of a healthy crowd of 5, 138 after Berisha struck early in the first half and twice in the second.
The match shaped as Melbourne Heart’s first pre-season hit out against a Hyundai A-League opponent during the 2013-14 pre-season, with the Red and White having defeated a GNEFA All Stars side, a La Trobe University XI side 12-0 and Victorian Premier League outfit Richmond SC 4-0.
While Head Coach John Aloisi fielded a strong starting line-up, including marquee signing Orlando Engelaar in midfield and Harry Kewell as captain, Roar named an impressive side which included Berisha, Thomas Broich, Michael Theo and Matt McKay.
And it didn’t take long for Mike Mulvey’s Roar to strike as Berisha punished a lethargic start from the Red and White, with the Albanian sharp-shooter netting just 16 seconds after kick-off.
That early blow had Heart on the back foot and Aloisi’s side could only muster half chances from Golgol Mebrahtu - from a free-kick - and David Williams, who blasted over the Roar crossbar from distance.
Melbourne Heart received another blow nearing the half hour mark as Engelaar and Broich clashed heavily and Engelaar’s contribution was cut short as the Dutchman was replaced by triallist Paulo Retre.
Initial reports suggested Engelaar’s injury was not serious and the Heart’s new number 4 had only suffered a bruised shin.
Melbourne were on the back foot for much of the first half as Roar pressured, but Berisha’s early strike remained the difference at the interval.
But Heart were caught out again after the break as the predatory Berisha snatched a second half double, striking in the 66th and 83rd minutes.
Melbourne went close to snatching a late consolation in stoppage time, but were denied by the woodwork as an effort from triallist Brent McGrath came back off the woodwork after he was set up by a clever Kewell back heel.
Melbourne Heart will announce the Club’s remaining pre-season schedule in the next week.
Match DetailsHyundai A-League Pre-Season MatchBrisbane Roar 3 (Berisha 1', 66', 83')Melbourne Heart FC 0Oakes Oval, LismoreCrowd: 5138