A Besart Berisha goal proved to be the difference between Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory on Saturday afternoon in front of 12,308 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
Forced to make changes from last week’s match against Central Coast Mariners because of injuries to William Gallas and Scott Jamieson, plus a two-week suspension to Captain Jacob Burns, Perth Glory brought in Jack Clisby, Brandon O’Neill and Riley Woodcock as part of their 16-man squad that contained ten players who were 22 years old or younger.
It was a cagey start to the match as both teams tried to work each other out with Perth opting for a 3-5-2 formation which the side had not used so far this season. Brisbane dominated the early possession count but were nearly caught out on the counter-attack with Clisby finding Jamie Maclaren on a couple of occasions from diagonal balls across the Brisbane back four.
Thomas Broich and Berisha continued to be the main threat against the Glory with the two imports linking up well a number of times outside the 18-yard box, but the Glory back three of Michael Thwaite, Steve Pantelidis and Clisby managed to thwart the attacks.
But the tide gradually started to turn late into the first half with the Glory managing a period of sustained pressure which resulted in five straight corners from the 30th minute to half time. Michael Thwaite came up from the back line in the 2nd minute of injury time and nearly broke the deadlock, sending his header goal-bound from a Steve McGarry cross, only for Brisbane Roar defender Luke Bratton to clear it off the line.
HALF TIME – Brisbane Roar 0 – 0 Perth Glory
Glory came out into the second half with the same mindset that had worked so well in the first 45 minutes as their compact formation continued to nullify Brisbane’s attacks.
Cameron Edwards’ had a couple of early free kicks in the 46th and 53rd minute which nearly unlocked the Brisbane Defence but it was Berisha who eventually scored the all-important goal in the 56th minute when he received the ball inside the 18-yard from Broich, before getting past Pantelidis and drilling the ball past Danny Vukovic with his left boot.
The Queensland outfit enjoyed a purple patch after Berisha’s goal with the Albanian striker nearly doubling the lead in the 59th minute, Brown coming close in the 61st minute after a one-two with Broich and Smith almost connecting with a Brisbane corner in the 65th minute.
Both of Glory’s best chances in the second half fell to Jamie Maclaren.
The first one came in the 69th minute when Chris Harold managed to find Maclaren inside the 18-yard box from a back heel, but the Young Socceroos striker was unable to beat Roar’s debutant goalkeeper Matthew Acton, while his second chance fell in the 73rd minute when Sidnei Sciola Moraes released Maclaren after carrying the ball from inside Glory’s half, but his well struck left-foot shot was well saved by Acton.
18-year-old Woodcock replaced Clisby in the 77th minute for his Hyundai A-League debut as Alistair Edwards continues to reinvigorate his Perth Glory squad with WA talent, but his introduction was not enough to overturn the one goal deficit as Pantelidis and Steve McGarry were given yellow cards late in the match to cap off a frustrating afternoon for the Glory.
Perth now returns home where they will take on Wellington Phoenix in their first Friday night match of the season at nib Stadium at 6.45pm.
Brisbane Roar: 2.Matthew SMITH (c), 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 7.Besart BERISHA (29.Kwame YEBOAH 70’), 10.HENRIQUE (23.Dimitri PETRATOS), 15.James DONACHIE, 17.Matt McKAY, 18.Luke BRATTAN, 19.Jack HINGERT, 20.Matthew ACTON (go), 22.Thomas BROICH, 26.Corey BROWN
Subs not used: 14. Diogo FERREIRA, 28.Brandon BORRELLO, , 33. Fraser CHALMERS (GK)
Goals: BERISHA 56’
Yellow Cards: 17.Matt McKAY (38’), 7.Besart BERISHA (47’), 26.Corey BROWN (49’)
Perth Glory: 1.Daniel VUKOVIC (go), 2.Jack CLISBY 25 (Riley WOODCOCK 77’), 4.Ryan EDWARDS, 5.Steve PANTELIDIS, 6.Cameron EDWARDS, 8.Ryo NAGAI, 9. Shane SMELTZ (17. Chris HAROLD 33’), 10.Jamie MACLAREN, 14.Steven McGARRY, 16.Sidnei SCIOLA MORAES, 23.Michael THWAITE
Subs not used: 3.Brandon O’NEILL, 18.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 24.Matthew DAVIES
Yellow Cards: 4.Ryan EDWARDS (33’), 2.Jack CLISBY (38’), 5.Steve PANTELIDIS (84’), 14.Steven McGARRY (88’)