Two first-half goals were enough for Brisbane Roar to beat ladder leaders Central Coast Mariners 2-0 in a dominant performance in their National Youth League fixture at Goodwin Park on Saturday.
Thirteen points and six places separated the two teams on the ladder heading into the match, but it was a much closer contest on the field.
The first real chance fell to the Mariners, Kieran Paull creating space for himself down the right wing, running the full length of the half before delivering a cross into the box to Aaron Peterson, whose tame shot was easily collected by Roar goalkeeper Matt Acton.
The miss proved costly as Brisbane took the ball straight up the other end and scored – captain Corey Brown providing the oncoming Julius Doe a well-placed cut-back that the former Victory player powerfully struck home from the edge of the area.
Doe was making himself a menace to the Mariners defence, hitting the crossbar with a 20-metre shot two minutes later before shooting just wide soon after that.
Peterson did his best to draw his team level but his shot in the 17th minute was deflected wide before James Meyer had an ideal chance to double Brisbane’s lead straight after the scheduled drinks break.
It was Brown again with the pass, this time over the top of the Central Coast defence, but pressure from defender Joshua Forces was enough to put the Roar striker off.
The home side kept the pressure up as the half wore on, Matt Thurtell forcing a save out of Mariners custodian Daniel Sadaka before Donachie went close with a header at the far post, and eventually had their second goal ten minutes before the break.
Brad McDonald pushed Thurtell down inside the box and referee Jason Crow pointed to the spot, Kenneth Dougall taking the responsibility of converting and Brisbane headed into the break with a two-goal advantage.
The second half was less eventful than the first but both sides showed promising signs in front of goal.
Brisbane had their second penalty within 15 minutes after the restart but Doe was unable to find the target from the spot and soon after, Roar substitutes Sam Cronin and Alex Schiavo combined to give Sadaka work to do to palm the ball away to safety.
The away side’s best chances late in the match came from set pieces, Brad McDonald’s effort just high of the crossbar before Daniel Bragg did well to find the six yard box from the right wing and team-mate Paull shot high from the rebounding ball.
Late in stoppage time, the ball fell to Peterson inside the box and despite being unmarked, he send his shot agonisingly wide.
But the Mariners left their run too late and the Roar ran out 2-0 victors on the day.
Brisbane Roar 2 (Julius DOE 8’, Kenneth DOUGALL 33’(p)
Central Coast Mariners 0
Brisbane Roar: 2. James DONACHIE, 3. Corey BROWN (c) (17. Sam CRONIN 46’), 5. George LAMBADARIDIS, 6. Ross ARCHIBALD, 9. James MEYER, 11. Matthew THURTELL (16. Alex SCHIAVO 58’), 12. DO Dong-Hyun, 13. Kenneth DOUGALL, 14. Cameron CRESTANI (7. Patrick THEODORE 46’), 18. Julius DOE, 20. Matthew ACTON (gk)
Substitutes not used: 1. Fraser CHALMERS
Central Coast Mariners: 2. Nikola STANJEVIC (c), 4. Kieran PAULL, 6. Daniel BRAGG, 7. Adam JENNER, 9. Aaron PETERSON, 10. Tomislav CIRJAK (8. Dillon VORTSER 59’), 12. Patrick DIXON, 14. Jordan CRIGHTON (11. Steve WHYTE 59’), 15. Brad McDONALD, 16. Joshua FORBES, 20. Daniel SADAKA (gk)
Substitutes not used: 1. David BRADASEVIC (gk)