Roar still in hunt for Premier’s Plate
For weeks, Brisbane coach Ange Postecoglou has been saying the race for the A-League’s top spot will come down to the final round and his prophecy has been realised.
With one game remaining, the Roar kept themselves in contention for the Premier’s Plate beating Newcastle 2-1 at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
With league leaders the Central Coast also posting a win – 1-0 over Adelaide in a simultaneous match at Bluetongue Stadium – the second-placed Roar, who are two points adrift, are still in the running for top spot.
“It was a big game for us today because we pretty much shore up second spot and we take it down to the last week which is what we wanted to do,” Postecoglou said.
“Seven weeks ago, we were 11 points behind the Mariners and, in the last seven weeks, we’ve played every team in the top six away, bar the Heart, and we’ve won all of them.
“When I look back to then, I thought ‘we’re going to find it really tough to maybe even stay in the top four if we don’t really hit some good form’.
“But to win all those games away from home has been a monumental effort from the players.
“I’m really glad it’s gone down to the last week and we’re still in with a shot.”
Albanian import Besart Berisha put the visitors in front with his record-equalling 19th goal of the season, with the Jets’ Ali Abbas netting one in reply in the first half before Mitch Nichols scored the 81st-minute winner from a penalty for the Roar.
It all looked to be going the Jets’ way in the opening stanza when both Brazilian import Henrique and Berisha were denied by the woodwork and, in the second half, Matthew Nash saved an Henrique penalty.
But just as the Jets looked to have the momentum, Brisbane gloveman Michael Theoklitos came to the Roar’s rescue with two superb consecutive saves, blocking Ryan Griffiths and ex-Arsenal and Everton striker Francis Jeffers’ second-half shots.
“We had a couple of really good opportunities early on and, if you don’t take take them, it comes back to bite you and it definitely did tonight,” a dejected Jets coach Gary van Egmond said.
“Once you give a team like Brisbane a chance to get some rhythm and play at their tempo … it’s always going to be difficult.
“So now it will all come down to next week, so we just have to regroup and get ready for it.”
The Roar will have to beat bottom-placed Gold Coast in the final round and rely on Wellington to keep the Mariners winless to ensure the Premier’s Plate.
The Jets’ defeat meanwhile means their place in the finals will come down to their final game against Sydney FC with both teams vying for a top-six finish.© AAP 2013
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