Roar held by Heart

Friday, 2 March 2012 9:51 PM

A sensational injury time penalty save by Clint Bolton Brisbane has denied Brisbane the chance to reclaim top spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder with the Melbourne Heart holding on for a 1-1 draw at Suncorp Stadium.

The Roar looked on track to record their fifth straight victory and move into the overnight competition lead when Besart Berisha drew a penalty from Simon Colosimo, but Mohamed Adnan had his powerfully chest-height drive parried away beautifully.

The Roar were the dominant side through the first half, and led 1-0 at the break, before a blitz from the Heart in the first five minutes of the second frame delivered the visitors their equaliser.

Mitch Nichols had the opener for the hosts at the half hour mark, driving low to the right and past Bolton from the top of the area after a Thomas Broich cross was blocked into his path by Heart defender Simon Colosimo.

Brisbane stopper Michael Theoklitos made brilliant saves to deny Eli Babalj and Jonathan Germano in the first three minutes of the second half, before Curtis Good made it third time lucky in the 48th, turning a head from the corner firmly into the net.

Mate Dugandzic was a standout for the visitors, driving the attack forward and creating a nightmare for Shane Stefanutto with his pace on the right flank.

Powerful 19-year-old Melbourne striker Babalj had a night to forget, failing to convert on three near point-blank shots.

Nichols had a pair of chances between the 10th and 15th in addition to his goal in the 32nd, but was cut short when he was subbed in the 38th minute, with early reports suggesting the Roar were taking precautionary measures against groin tightness ahead of their Asian Champions League opener on Tuesday.

Brisbane's first opportunity of the match came in the second minute with Massimo Murdocca missing a first-time left-footer and Besart Berisha failing to convert the scraps, after Nicholas Fitzgerald inspired with a probing run and low cross from the right wing.

Melbourne's best chances of the first frame came through powerful 19-year-old striker Babalj on the breakaway and to Dugandzic, who created with off-the-ball industry but couldn't control close-range efforts with either head or foot.

The Heart's tearaway start to the second frame eventually cooled pace, and by the middle stages the match was being fought evenly, with half chances and field position in the balance.

Berisha and Broich combined with unbelievable skill in the 87th to offer Brisbane a late hope, but the final pass was too hot for substitute Issey Nakajima-Farran to put a shot on.

The penalty awarded by referee Ryan Shepheard in injury time seemed certain to deliver yet another last-minute miracle for the Roar, but Bolton's incredible effort kept things level at the close.

Brisbane Roar: 1 Nichols 32
Melbourne Heart: 1 Good 49
Crowd: 9998

How far will Western Sydney go in the AFC Champions League?