Watching this game left me soaking wet, and it was from the football on display just as much as it was from the weather.
Coming off the back of a 5-1 loss to Sydney FC, this game provided more than one challenge for the Brisbane Roar. Not only were they playing against Melbourne Victory, who had been so far undefeated this season at the top of the table, but the promised cyclonic conditions were finally starting to deliver. Light rain had soaked the field before kick-off. As a brave and committed (or possibly just dumb) Roar fan, I decided to sit out in the open with no protection from the elements. I realised it was dumb after about twenty minutes of sitting in the heavy rain, unable to see past intelligent people’s umbrellas, soaking wet and freezing my arse off. The players also started to struggle with the conditions, the tackles getting more uncontrolled and dangerous as the field got slipperier and the ball harder to handle for both keepers.
Victory keeper Casey Dumont had a stellar first half, dropping low to the ground on several occasions keeping out some thunderous shots from the likes of Gorry, Pickett and Ubogagu. After being beaten early on by a bounding shot from Allira Toby to open the scoring, Dumont did well to keep Brisbane out for the rest of the half. Brisbane’s goal was answered at the other end 10 minutes later through a brilliant Nairn free kick. ‘Brilliant’ and ‘Nairn’ seem to be becoming synonymous this season. From where I was sitting, I was sure it would be Emily Gielnik to take. A perfectly executed set piece by the Victory women, Mackenzie Arnold had no chance.
With a goal apiece ending the first half, it looked like the game would be staying a draw, but it seems conditions and a bit of luck helped Brisbane retake the lead. After the rain being light and periodic for the first half, it started to get heavier and more consistent in the second.
From what looked like a cross after a brilliant run into the penalty area, came Brisbane’s second goal. Chioma Ubogagu managed to keep the ball away from the Vuck defenders and put in what looked like a cross at the goal line, her ball was steered in at the near post by Dumont. Ubogagu continued to lose her footing as the weather got more and more fierce, eventually requiring treatment bringing an end to her game time. This could provide an opportunity for Hayley Raso to make her long awaited season debut for the Roar women after she broke her back in the NWSL earlier this year. I, for one, am very keen to see her back out there getting some minutes. Fingers crossed for Thursday night’s game.
Former Roar winger, Gielnik, was involved in most of Melbourne’s attacking chances. She seemed to be the most dangerous in attack for the Victory women. Unlucky for her she kept finding the side of the net until late in the game. Victory’s usual attacking force, Natasha Dowie, was kept close under wraps by Jenna McCormick. McCormick defended brilliantly all game always managing to get her body just in front of Dowie and nudge her off the ball, or somehow get her foot on the ball for a clearance when it looked certain Dowie was on goal. Some of the best last ditch defending I’ve seen, and it never looked desperate, McCormick always in control. A very impressive performance to watch, at one point she lost her footing but still managed to clear the ball laying on her side, the ball in a very dangerous position in the box with two strikers waiting to pounce. There was some impressive defending down Victory’s end too, with Laura Alleway heroically sliding in to deny Toby on multiple occasions. With her form so far this season, a renewed Matildas starting XI call up could be on the horizon.
With Dowie under wraps by McCormick, Claire Polkinghorne was free to mark the other Victory players trying to break through Brisbane’s defence. Polks put in an impressive performance of her own, something we’ve now come to expect from the Brisbane Captain. Exciting to see how well
these two are working together in the centre of defence. Polks also managed to bag a goal of her own, although it looked to be an own goal off Dowie’s head, for Brisbane’s third.
Dowie did manage to evade her markers, sliding one past Mackenzie Arnold late in the second half, giving Victory a spark of hope in the dying minutes. After the way our matches have gone this season, sitting there wearing orange in the rain, I was definitely worried it would end in a draw.
Luckily, Brisbane’s attack seemed much more effective in this game. It seemed having Allira Toby start alongside Yuki Nagasato allowed Nagasato the freedom to play a more midfield distributing role, feeding the ball through to Toby. This also meant she was free to make runs into the box unmarked, which was how Brisbane got their match winner. Nagasato slipped past the Melbourne defence in the final minute of regular time, easily dribbling around the keeper and slotting the ball home. The ability to keep her composure in that situation, after being pelted with rain and dodging uncontrolled slide tackles for most of the half, really showed her class. Something which hasn’t been on full display yet this season. That’s two goals in two games now for Nagasato, I really hope we get to see more of her ability in coming weeks.
With the field now looking more like a swimming pool, water spraying up every time the ball was kicked, Gielnik finally scored. After looking dangerous most of the game, she pulled one back for Victory in the four minutes of additional time, which worried me once again. Of course, it would be bloody Gielnik. I was wet and cold and with the possibility of losing our lead in the back of my mind it was all too hard to cope with. The four minutes of added time turned into nearly ten (and felt like an hour) when Pickett went down with an injury after a reckless challenge by Gielnik, who immediately went to her side. The conditions providing yet another casualty. Once Pickett got attention, play was restarted and just when you think the game couldn’t possibly have any more drama, Gorry received a red card.
Sent off in the final minutes of the game with a second yellow for timewasting, which usually would be very funny, it’s not so funny when it happens to one of your favourite players who had only just returned to the starting team. Not the best way to end the match. The Roar Corps showing their displeasure at the end of the match with lively chants about the referee.
All in all, a thriller of a match with seven goals and a red card to show for it. Ending Victory’s undefeated run, Brisbane now sit third on the ladder on equal points with Perth. The W-League this season is full of drama and surprises, with the transfer window coming up too I can’t wait to see what else is in store, and I’m definitely not going to be placing any bets or tipping this season. On top of the win, I’ve also learned something important from this game: take an umbrella.
By Kianna Roar