An unexpected Sunday afternoon goal feast at a near capacity Dolphin Stadium saw Brisbane Roar claim their first A-League victory under Robbie Fowler.
If there was ever a time to use the cliché ‘it was a game of two halves’, this was the game to do it. The Roar were looking for our first win of the season while Melbourne City were flying high at the top of the table. To make matters worse for the home fans, Jamie Maclaren was back from injury and looking primed to score a few goals, really sticking the knife into fans that once chanted his name. You can’t hate JMac, but it gets a little easier to do so on days like this.
Certainly, the expected narrative played out in the first half. To kick things off the teams walked out to ‘You’re the Voice’… I’m not a fan of it. It doesn’t get the crowd going and feels slow for a pump-up song. This isn’t bump day on Triple J and it’s never going to be YNWA, so bring back Powderfinger or even Kasabian – Fire, which was played straight after.
Just six minutes in and JMac found that back of the net, running through Roar’s CBs for Marcelo Cabrera’s ball into the box and looking composed as he shoots past Max Crocombe.
The grey clouds weren’t clearing on the pitch when Roar had a penalty shout waved away in the 14th. Harrison Delbridge brought ROD down in the box, getting all leg/no ball but nothing came from it. Certainly a theme in the first half where calls just didn’t go our way be it the pen shout or City defenders tugging on ROD and Aaron Amadi-Holloway’s arms so they couldn’t move until City took the ball back.
Unfortunately JMac wasn’t finished, doubling City’s lead in the 29th. From Josh Brillante’s rather brilliant turn to whip the cross towards goal and JMac getting his head to it, it looked like the end for Roar.
Roar looked uncomfortable in possession in the first half, too many touches and skewed passes when they weren’t being pressured. It was worse that there were brief flashes of brilliance from some players that gave you a small glimmer of hope. A great turn by AAH here, and controlled touch by ROD there, and then a whole lot of nothing came from it.
It’s even more frustrating when you realise that City were just as bad, the difference being they looked relaxed off the ball like it was only a matter of time before they regained possession.
HT: BRI 0 – 2 MCY
I’m not sure who made a pact with the devil at half time but the sun over the stadium turned red and Daniel Bowles was replaced by Jai Ingham, signalling a more attack minded Roar were about to take the pitch. Helped that City were finally playing against the wind.
We didn’t have to wait look till Roar fans were rewarded for making the trek to Redcliffe. ROD with pace on Curtis Good to get a touch on Jay O’Shea’s overheard pass pulled one back in the 50th. Heartbreaking to see JMac get his hattrick a minute later with a header up the other end.
What happens next is something Roar fans expect from our team. If we lose, so be it but as long as the team gives it their all till the last second some of the sting is taken out.
Roar started to take more chances, pressing forward to expose City’s backline. O’Shea again with a great cross into the box to find the head of Ingham at the far post, who heads it across the face of goal as AAH and Stefan Mauk were charging forward. AAH gets a foot to it to make it 2-3 in the 60th and it’s a deserved goal for the Welshman after making his starting XI debut. The fact that we had players in the box ready to take a chance is what we’ve been waiting for this season.
Three minutes later and Kingy points to the spot after a scramble in the City box and AAH goes down. The great thing about Dolphin Stadium is the freedom to move around the pitch, as several Roar faithful run down to the penalty end. ROD taking steps up against Dean Bouzanis and makes no mistake as he sends Bouzanis the wrong way, levelling the scores in the 64th. As the chant of Brisbane rings out around the stadium, finally the crowd were brought to life on the hope that we might witness a Roar victory.
Roar look most likely to score next, and certainly with eight shots from inside the box in this half compared to one in the first it’s hard to think otherwise. City try to find a way through without a subbed off JMac but the best they can muster is Craig Noone crossing to no one in the box.
Suddenly there’s a VAR check in the 81st and everyone around me was as confused as I was. Having watched the incident back I feel for Denis Genreau having a handball called against him. It was a hand ball, and his arm was out but he was protecting himself from copping a ball in the face. In the stadium I had no idea though and was buzzing we had a pen. ROD stepped up to the spot once more and claimed his hattrick. The elation around the stadium was palpable and the young kid in front of me (I want to say 7-10?) could hardly believe what he had witnessed in this second half.
After a tough start to the season, it’s about time the Roar got a win and a thrilling one at that. Bring on Wellington!
FT: BRI 4-3 MCY
By Bree Reidy