Brisbane Roar midfielders Steven Lustica and Dimitri Petratos showed form worthy of next weekend’s Hyundai A-League Finals Series when they engineered an exciting 2-1 win over Newcastle Jets in the final round of the regular season at Suncorp Stadium last night.
Lustica was man of the match, and hit the woodwork twice, while Petratos delivered his best game of the season as the two experienced players lead a young Roar side by example.
The Roar side mirrored the youthful team fielded a week ago in a controversial 1-0 loss against Melbourne Victory.
And as 10 of the Roar’s starting XI from Tuesday night’s AFC Champion’s League 1-0 heroics in China watched from the stands, it was two youngsters who provided the Roar goals last night.
Kofi Danning opened the scoring with his first touch in the 70th minute, only two minutes after coming on as a substitute.
The Jets drew level seven minutes later, before the Roar put the result beyond doubt through an unlikely source.
Twenty-year old defender Lachlan Jackson, in only his third A-League appearance, blasted home the winner from inside the six-yard box after the Jets failed to clear with only four minutes remaining.
Roar Interim Head Coach Frans Thijssen praised his young players for another fighting effort and said his focus would now be on a rare full week of preparation for next weekend’s Hyundai A-League Finals Series.
The Roar’s opponents will be decided on the results of games involving Wellington Phoenix, Sydney FC and Adelaide United this weekend.
“We don’t know who our opponents are yet but I think all teams involved in the Series should be looking out for the Roar,” Thijssen said.
“We have good form away from home this year and we are more than capable of stringing a few wins together. There is a lot to be positive about.”
Despite being scrappy at times last night, the end-to-end action reflected the enthusiasm both young sides took into the match.
It took just three minutes for the Roar to pressure the Newcastle defence.
Jean Carlos Solorzano crossed from the right to find Lustica in close. His shot was deflected onto the upright by Jets keeper Ben Kennedy and the ball bounced across the goalmouth but was cleared by the Jets defence.
The Roar came close again in the 17th minute, when Solarzano weaved his way into the box on the left hand side. The Costa Rican put in a low shot that was blocked by Kennedy, who then saved two follow-up attempts from close range by Patrick Theodore.
It took 29 minutes for the Jets to seriously test the Roar’s goal. An Andrew Hoole shot forced Roar keeper Jamie Young, wearing the captain’s armband for the first time, into a leaping reflex save.
In the 41st minute Lustica came agonisingly close to opening the scoring, sending a thunderbolt from 30 metres into the left upright. Despite several chances on both sides, the game remained scoreless at half time.
The first real chance of the second half fell to the Jets in the 64th minute, with Lee Ki-je’s shot drawing another strong save from Young. A minute later, Hoole squeezed through the centre of the Brisbane defence but angled his shot wide with only Young to beat.
The Jets, who needed to win to avoid the wooden spoon, were made to pay for their missed chances, with Danning’s unmarked tap-in from the back post after a searching ball across the face of goal from Solarzano giving the Roar a 1-0 lead.
The Jets equalised in the 77th minute through Edson Montano, who beat Young from in the box after a nod down from Alivodic.
The Roar kept the pressure on the Jets defence, however, with Jackson’s 86th minute winner coming after the Jets failed to clear shots from Brady and Solarzano.
A jubilant Jackson admitted the goal was unexpected in just his third game. “I’ve worked hard to get here and that was a real bonus,” he said.
BRISBANE ROAR 2 (Kofi DANNING 70′, Lachlan JACKSON 86′)
NEWCASTLE JETS 1 ( Edson MONTANO 77′)
At Suncorp Stadium
BRISBANE ROAR: 2.Jerome POLENZ, 4.Adam SAROTA (41.Luke PAVLOU 75′), 6.George LAMBADARIDIS, 8.Steven LUSTICA, 12.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 14.Daniel BOWLES, 21.Jamie YOUNG (c,gk), 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 26.Lachlan JACKSON, 29.Patrick THEODORE (20.Kofi DANNING 68”), 34.Shannon BRADY (37.Abrahim YANGO 90′).
Substitutes not used: 31.Matthew SCHMIDT, 36.Fraser CHALMERS (gk).
Yellow cards: Adam SAROTA 24′.
Red cards: Nil
NEWCASTLE JETS: 3.Taylor REGAN, 7.Enver ALIVODIC, 11.Andrew HOOLE, 13.Edson MONTAÑO (12.Sam GALLAGHER 84′), 16.Jacob PEPPER, 18.Allan WELSH, 19.Mitch COOPER (31.Max BURGESS 52′), 20.Ben KENNEDY (Gk), 21.Daniel MULLEN, 22.LEE Ki-je, 26.Nicholas COWBURN.
Substitutes not used: 10.Travis COOPER, 29.Michael KANTAROVSKI, 30.John SOLARI (Gk),
Yellow cards: LEE Ki-je 11′; Enver ALIVODIC 40′.
Red cards: Nil
Referee: Steve Lucas
Assistant Referees: Ashley Beecham; Anton Shchetinin; Fourth Official: Alex King