Brisbane Roar were made to fight for a share of the spoils in their week 22 clash against Perth Glory, coming from behind to record a 1-1 draw at Suncorp Stadium and extend their unbeaten run in the Hyundai A-League to 20 games.
After a disappointing opening 45 minutes, the Roar showed character and determination to bounce back and collect a point against a fired up Glory side.
Brisbane wasted no time at all, stringing together well-timed passes and putting on their usual display of one-touch football as soon as referee Jarred Gillett opened proceedings.
The first chance of the game fell to in-form Kosta Barbarouses who, after beating two defenders and finding himself in front of goal, flashed his shot wide of the post after six minutes of play.
Perth gave Brisbane a small scare soon after – Robbie Fowler intercepting a rare wayward pass with the goal in sight but the offside flag was up before he could register a shot on target.
Each minor threat the Glory posed was aptly dealt with by the solid defensive combination of Matt Smith and Luke DeVere in the opening stages, allowing Brisbane to push forward and exploit the space in the attacking third.
Barbarouses continued to be involved as the game progressed, sending a low, inviting ball across the face of goal but unluckily none of his teammates were in a position to capitalise on the Kiwi striker-s quick work on the ball.
The Roar were made to pay for failing to capitalise on their overwhelming possession on the half hour mark with the Glory finding themselves a goal to the good courtesy of veteran striker Mile Sterjovski.
Fowler picked out his attacking partner in space after dazzling work on the right wing, Sterjovski slamming the ball home just inside the penalty area to give his side a shock lead heading into halftime.
Brisbane almost had an equaliser right before the break, a corner from returning midfielder Thomas Broich doing well to pick out the head of Smith but the central defender-s powerful header was denied by a last-gasp save by Perth custodian Tando Velaphi.
The men in orange started the second stanza brightly, Broich winning three consecutive free kicks around the penalty box as the Glory defence started to become frustrated despite their one goal advantage.
Roar coach Ange Postecoglou introduced Henrique into the fray with half an hour left on the clock, the Brazilian winger making his first appearance at Suncorp Stadium since Brisbane-s 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix in week four.
Henrique made an immediate impact on his return, providing a perfect cross for fellow midfielder Mitch Nichols to level the scores with his head, much to the delight of the 11,574 strong Suncorp Stadium crowd.
Embarking on a telling run down the left flank, Henrique brushed past Perth defender Josh Mitchell inside the area before delivering the ball straight to the head of Nichols who powered home for his fifth goal of the campaign.
Brisbane were proving to be a handful in the air, Smith recording another header on goal as the home side pushed for a winning goal.
Despite their patient build-up play as the four minutes of injury time loomed, Brisbane had to settle for a point as Perth demonstrated they were tougher opponents than their tenth place on the Hyundai A-League ladder may have indicated.
Post-match, coach Postecoglou admitted his side were below par on the night but commended their efforts in fighting back into the game after conceding the opening goal.
“It wasn-t a great start to the game and it was disappointing because we haven-t done that too often this year,” he said.
“As a collective, we didn-t play with the intensity that we usually do and that gives the opposition an opportunity to get into the game and to Perth-s credit, they were very good.
“You can-t take anything away from them, they were well organised, they worked really hard and defensively they did a good job and they threatened on the attack.
“We were very ordinary in the first half.”
Brisbane Roar 1 (Mitch NICHOLS 63-)
Perth Glory 1 (Mile STERJOVSKI 31-)
Friday, 7 January 2010
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Local kick-off: 7.30pm
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Brisbane Roar line-up: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Matthew SMITH, 3. Luke DeVERE, 4.Shane STEFANUTTO (c) (12. Matthew MUNDY 89-), 5. 6. Erik PAARTALU (18. Luke BRATTAN 70-), 7. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA (10. HENRIQUE 59-), 9. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 17. Mitchell NICHOLS, 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Milan SUSAK
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk)
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Perth Glory line-up: 1. Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2. Josh MITCHELL, 3. Jamie COYNE, 4. Andy TODD, 7. Jacob BURNS (c), 9. Robbie FOWLER (22. Anthony SKORICH 79-), 12. Scott NEVILLE, 14. Steven McGARRY, 16. Adrian PELLEGRINO (15. Howard FONDYKE 85-), 17. Todd HOWARTH, 21. Mile STERJOVSKI (5. Jamie HARNWELL 90+1-)
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Alex PEARSON (gk)
Yellow Cards: Jacob BURNS 58-, Andy TODD 73-
Red Cards: Nil