Resurgent Wanderers cut through beleaguered Brisbane 2-0 at Suncorp

Evan Morgan Grahame Columnist

55 Have your say

    Astronomically insignificant a marker though it may be, the new year nonetheless provides a nice, agreed-upon point where, en masse, the slate might be wiped clean.

    Brisbane and Western Sydney hobbled through the dusky final furlong of 2017 and both have begun the new year with tight, determined victories, results that have firmed up their resolutions to make the latter portion of the 2017-18 season a happier and more successful period.

    Of course, as is the case with all of us, resolutions are at their firmest in early January, but they can quickly turn translucent and jellied as the year goes on.

    Two wins to start the year – ah, now that would really confirm the turning of a new leaf. And there was a win to consolidate this new trend available here on a pleasant Brisbane evening. 

    The home team, a Roar side clad in maroon, made the better start, with Massimo Maccarone unusually active. He has scored well this season – seven goals so far – almost exclusively using his knack for arriving on his mark and on cue with minimal exertion. For a striker as experienced and, let’s say, distinguished as he is, leaning heavily on his instincts is probably a wise strategy. But here he was seen involving himself in the midfield play, popping up on the wing, even tracking back.

    With half an hour gone Maccarone had more touches inside his own box than in the Wanderers penalty area, a sign as much of Brisbane’s admirable-but-impotent trying as it was an increased willingness to embrace the lactic acid on the part of the Italian.

    It appeared as though Maccarone had been given a brief to stray into valuable areas between the lines, with Corey Gameiro acting as a focal point up front in his absence. An interesting and bold tactical flourish from John Aloisi. 

    So with Brisbane hogging the ball and with a glint in their eye, they were socked, rocked and stunned by a counter-punch.

    The Wanderers, having been pinned back, lurched suddenly into the Brisbane half, and the ball was swooped over to the far post, with a stooping Brendan Santalab charging in to meet it. His header was parried back into the danger zone by Jamie Young, and Oriol Riera had simply to control and place the ball into an open goal.

    To add injury to insult Brisbane’s Thomas Kristensen limped off as the Wanderers celebrated, apparently injured at some point in the build-up.

    Not five minutes earlier Gameiro had been incorrectly flagged for offside when clean through. This was a cavalcade of misfortune traipsing through Suncorp, and every thudding footstep sent Aloisi spiralling further into a smouldering fury. 

    Brisbane pressed on and re-assumed control of the match, keeping the ball, involving Maccarone in the deeper play and pressing – if not quite tearing through – for a goal. As the halftime break approached, Brisbane had held 67 per cent of possession. Generally speaking, it is highly unusual for a Josep Gombau team to relinquish the ball so deliberately, but then again they did that last weekend against Melbourne City and they won that game.

    Gombau, known as a coach whose teams usually tend dutifully to an overarching possession-based philosophy, has recently spoken publicly about the need to win regardless of the manner of victory. A new vein of pragmatism discovered, perhaps, under this new, oppressive pressure?

    Another huge spell of Roar possession was suddenly interrupted by another shard of Wanderers progress. The ball was worked from one side of the pitch to the other, ending up on the right. Kearyn Baccus, Riera and Chris Herd all exchanged passes, and the ball was worked to Mark Bridge in the middle of the box.

    Drifting right, he controlled and shot sharply, and Young was beaten at his near post. Two goals, both against the run of play, and the Wanderers had a commanding lead.

    Aloisi’s expression darkened. At halftime, his team had slapped in seven shots from outside the box to the Wanderers’ one. The visitors had somehow managed five shots from inside the box to Brisbane’s one. Maccarone’s withdrawn position had made the midfield play much more pleasing and fluent but it had blunted the team as a result.

    Western Sydney, sensing a demoralised foe one blow from collapse, began the second half the brighter team, winning the 50-50 balls, snapping passes to feet, probing and prodding. The home side were no longer holding the ball; all their eagerness had curdled. Now Gombau’s team rolled through their familiar passing triangles, working the ball into one wing cul-de-sac and then back out again. 

    Petros Skapetis was removed and Daniel Leck, the young striker, was brought on. Jack Hingert tested Vedran Janjetovic with a shot, but the examination was elementary. Gameiro offered a sterner test, volleying on the swivel, a wonderful shot that Janjetovic met with an equally wonderful flying save. These were only murmurs, palpitations, in what had become a flat-lining Roar performance.

    As the match crept into the final half hour it seemed as though those two first-half concessions had landed fatal blows to the home team. Riera should have twice increased the lead, with his second chance in particular heading narrowly wide from a free kick. Maccarone then smashed a shot into Michael Thwaite’s legs, with the ball losing all momentum and bobbling tamely into Janjetovic’s arms; Brisbane fans need no reminding, considering their current injury record, that luck has rarely been their companion on this torrid trudge of a season. 

    Connor O’Toole, struck with a flailing elbow, was left gushing blood and had to be removed. Aloisi’s men had shredded their chances now, and with 79 minutes gone Maccarone lashed out in frustration, driving a forearm into Brendan Santalab’s lip, leaving it pouring blood, an assault inflicted while the Wanderers striker was trying to position himself to challenge for a high ball in the box.

    It seemed as though the Italian only had eyes – misted in red – and elbows for Santalab, but the video assistant referee for some reason decided not to review the incident, even though it appeared an obvious game-changing oversight; a clear red, in other words, and probably a penalty too. In the end not even a foul was called.

    Western Sydney ran out 2-0 winners, but they might have scored more. A fifth home defeat of the season for Brisbane, then, and they will be concerned they could not back up last week’s win over Adelaide.

    In repositioning his striker, Aloisi left deficiencies in other areas which Maccarone’s increased involvement could not mask. Clearly the Roar are in need of reinforcements. Wonderful, January is just the time to do that – except that the club have apparently indicated that they aren’t planning on making many signings during the transfer window.

    Their injuries alone should argue compellingly against that in concert with this result.

    As the new year hope fades, the hangover sets in; perhaps 2018 won’t be so great in Brisbane after all.

    Evan Morgan Grahame
    Evan Morgan Grahame

    Evan Morgan Grahame is a Melbourne-based journalist. Gleaning what he could from his brief career as a painter, the canvas of the football pitch is now his subject of contemplation, with the beautiful game sketching new, intriguing compositions every week. He has been one of The Roar's Expert columnists since 2016. Follow him on Twitter @Evan_M_G.

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    The Crowd Says (55)

    • January 6th 2018 @ 7:59am
      Kangajets said | January 6th 2018 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      Well summed up by the author.

      Good to see gameiro back, I really hope he has an injury free time now . He is a talented player .

      • January 6th 2018 @ 8:43am
        Waz said | January 6th 2018 @ 8:43am | ! Report

        He is a talented player, but one on one with the keeper he showed a familiar Australian striker trait – he can’t finish. Maclaren couldn’t either.

        • Roar Guru

          January 6th 2018 @ 2:14pm
          Griffo said | January 6th 2018 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

          I think you are right there Waz to a certain degree. One-on-one seems to be a lost art for most players at times, but strikers the difference can be noticeable, or at least that is my own perception.

          Take for example Berisha’s goal against the Jets: Once he broke through my thought was it’s more than likely he’s going to score, and he did well to do so.

          I’m not sure too many Aussie players would have if you could slot them in Berisha’s place at that point.

          Taggert I think is a good chance; perhaps Nabbout and Petratos but are not recognised strikers; Hoffman not as likely than those three but he did well for his goal against Wanderers, but so nearly tripped over forst touch but got the ball in against Victory but perhaps has had an extended A-League career due to moving into defence and midfield?

          • January 6th 2018 @ 7:15pm
            Kangajets said | January 6th 2018 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

            Adam tagget is a good one on one finisher . Would love to see him stay injury free and find some form .

            Then return to Newcastle next year .

    • January 6th 2018 @ 8:40am
      Waz said | January 6th 2018 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      Adam Peacock did a great tweet last night on Roars “unavailable XI”:

      Franjic North Papdopolous O’Toole
      McKay Caletti Kristensen
      D’Agostino Holman Bautheac

      It’s an absolute disaster for the football department made worse by our worst-ever disciplinary record with two out suspended and two more one card away from being suspended.

      The problem is this gives JA an excuse to hide behind, accountability for a disasterous season is being passed on to “being unlucky”, “poor refereeing and VARs” and “injuries”.

      Even with all the financial crisis, I can’t remember the club being at such a low point, hopefully we scrape a five-figure crowd on Monday as I fear that will be our last one of the season.

      Under Frans Theijsen we also had a long injury list, hectic ACL workload, players out of form, all led by an interim head coach. It wasn’t a great season but when we put out patched up sides full of reserve grade players and youth, they actually played well and gave it a go. They even took that seasons champions close in two games.

      This season the footballing set—up is a shambles; the first team (whoever they are) don’t seem to know what game plan they’re trying to execute, reserve players are therefore coming in to a confused system with the net result everyone is making it up as they go along.

      The focus now has to shift to David Pourre and what’s he going to do about it, and when?

      • January 6th 2018 @ 10:15am
        stu said | January 6th 2018 @ 10:15am | ! Report

        Articulate and factual, but is David willing to hear it?

      • Roar Guru

        January 6th 2018 @ 2:00pm
        Griffo said | January 6th 2018 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

        It’s a hard thing to watch your team with an incompetent coach at the helm, hoping the poor run of injuries doesn’t give another season of what-ifs and maybes with them at the helm.

        Did JA get a renewed contract recently? Being financially strapped the owners may stick with him for another off season to reduce the payout…

        • January 6th 2018 @ 5:22pm
          Waz said | January 6th 2018 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

          JA is in the first year of a new 3 year contract.

          And re the ownership, the Bakries are billionaires, they’re not cash-strapped and bankroll Roar to an average loss of $3.5m/year … the issue with them has always been paying stuff on time, or more importantly transferring any money so the clubs management can pay on Time.

          • Roar Guru

            January 6th 2018 @ 8:00pm
            Griffo said | January 6th 2018 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

            I suppose cash strapped is a relative term when you are dealing with cashflow issues.

            Tinkled would shuffle money around, and then it did become a huge problem when there was no cash in other assets to shuffle along to Hunter Sports Group which ran both Jets and Knights for a time.

            • January 6th 2018 @ 10:14pm
              Waz said | January 6th 2018 @ 10:14pm | ! Report

              Bakries are different; over the years I’ve come to believe the disconnect between the western managers and the Asian owners is actually the problem. Fix that and we’d be a normal club but funded $3-$4m above our turnover.

      • January 6th 2018 @ 7:02pm
        Lionheart said | January 6th 2018 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

        We had very strong youth players then Waz, and still do but we’ve also released some quality too (remember Aloisi saying ‘we can only keep the very best’). It’s the lack of attractive football that worries me. What happened to playing the Roar way? Remember the reason we sacked Mike Mulvey and our previous W League coach was for not playing the Roar way. Where’s our club philosophy? As you say, it’s a confused team.
        I doubt Aloisi will be sacked this year, and I think he does deserve some cred for the work he has done with the club and owners (remember, we didn’t even have a training ground when he arrived). I don’t wish him bad, but on field we’re going nowhere.
        Our new anthem is a win win, and our W League are top of the table. But the A League department needs a complete shakeout. The best we can hope for this season is scrape a few more wins, no finals and very unlikely to win our playoffs for the ACL, so the sooner that shakeup starts the better.
        This is just not good enough for a Brisbane team, unacceptable and can not go on.

        • January 6th 2018 @ 7:04pm
          Waz said | January 6th 2018 @ 7:04pm | ! Report

          #BRFCmyhappiness a definite win.

          Agree with everything you’ve said.

          • January 6th 2018 @ 11:36pm
            TK said | January 6th 2018 @ 11:36pm | ! Report

            I was thinking AC/DC ‘Its a long way to the top’ would be more suitable.

            Certainly when Bernard Fanning laments ‘You’re over there when I need you here’ it could be JA thinking about his injured players sitting in the stands.

            I don’t feel my ‘happiness slowly creeping back’ just yet.

            • January 7th 2018 @ 8:42am
              Waz said | January 7th 2018 @ 8:42am | ! Report

              It doesn’t matter what you (or I) think individually, it matters what the majority of fans think and they’re behind My Happiness big time.

              It’s also been a 2-3 year journey to get to this song, and the first time a CEO has listened to fans and actually played it.

              • January 7th 2018 @ 12:25pm
                Bruce said | January 7th 2018 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

                Anything involving powderfinger is a winner imo

              • January 7th 2018 @ 6:29pm
                TK said | January 7th 2018 @ 6:29pm | ! Report

                I entirely respect the democratic process (if there was a vote – I dunno). I was however taking the piss given the parlous state of things at present the song is ironic – personally can’t see the need for a run on song but it at least gives the fans the appearance that they are able to achieve something so a fair outcome after 2 – 3 years work.

              • January 7th 2018 @ 7:20pm
                Lionheart said | January 7th 2018 @ 7:20pm | ! Report

                Every club has a run on song TK, and it has a special purpose as you would know. Most clubs have recycled songs from British clubs, or a 60s British ballad of some sort. Roar’s new song is a great fit, by local lads from Toowong (next to our home stadium). It’ll become part of the unique atmosphere that Soccer gives us, places us apart from the BBL style entertainment (the path we were on with Fat Boy Slim).

              • January 7th 2018 @ 7:57pm
                Waz said | January 7th 2018 @ 7:57pm | ! Report

                Correct. If you don’t have one of your own Fox Sports give you some canned music. Might as well have one that fans connect with.

    • January 6th 2018 @ 8:54am
      Josh said | January 6th 2018 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      Please Brisbane ditch the State of Origin stuff.

      I was horrified to see us lumped in with East Sydney in the state vs state ad.

      • January 6th 2018 @ 10:10am
        chris said | January 6th 2018 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        Totally agree Josh. This SOO is just not going to cut it at a football level. Just because its rugby leagues pinnacle to beat another state, it just doesnt transpire to football.

      • Roar Guru

        January 6th 2018 @ 1:54pm
        Griffo said | January 6th 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

        But it might attract a few more to the game…then who knows?

        • January 7th 2018 @ 11:58am
          Waz said | January 7th 2018 @ 11:58am | ! Report

          Correct. The first year they did it they got an Origin great to hand the shirts to the players at training during the week and talk about what it meant to him to represent QLD. The media coverage was awesome, it got multiple reports on multiple channels in FTA TV news, made several radio stations, made all the newspapers both here and in NSWs and went out on Suncorp Stadium, Origin and Broncos social media. Huge media coverage and all for free. It’s also very relevant media coverage because of the nature of sports in this state and the fact many Roar Supporters also follow the Broncos.

          But typically football supporters complain no one markets the A League then complains its the wrong sort of marketing when they do. It’s no wonder the code struggles – nothing is good enough.

          • January 7th 2018 @ 1:13pm
            chris said | January 7th 2018 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

            Sounds like great exposure for that “origin great” that you refer to

    • January 6th 2018 @ 9:06am
      Mahler said | January 6th 2018 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      Roar are basically putting out a B-side each game due to the large numbers of injuries. How can they hope to win? Six or seven of last night’s side would not be on the ground if the injured players were available. Roar have done well all things considered.

      • January 6th 2018 @ 5:26pm
        Waz said | January 6th 2018 @ 5:26pm | ! Report


        That is correct. However, the fact remains even allowing for these injuries they’re not playing well, certainly not to the level supporters have become accustomed too.

        Then there’s the million-dollar question: how much of this injury crisis is self inflicted?

        Supporters were told in the pre-Christmas open training session that during the off-season a major change in the teams physio and medical support services were made, they were effectively outsourced, but the providers weren’t paid by the club so they stopped providing services. This led to a “reduced level” of medical support, mis-diagnosis of injuries, and extended periods of injury. There’s plenty of confusion over this, all that came from players being open with fans, and an attempt to get to the truth of the matter will be made at Wednesday nights RSF Fan Forum.

        You may have seen in the press this week Roar had the two leading experts in this area (within football) reviewing Roars medico set-up. Whilst welcome, that is somewhat a case of too little too late for this season.

        If true, it looks like the off-field dramas have, for the first time, materially affected the playing side. Which is a fear supporters have held for a decade now – the way the club is structured we should be a bottom 4 side, the exceptional performances on the field have defied the support behind the scenes. Until now.

    • January 6th 2018 @ 9:20am
      Nemesis said | January 6th 2018 @ 9:20am | ! Report

      Didn’t see the whole 90′ but what I observed when watching: Brisbane had the better plan; WSW finished 2 chances.

      No doubt, this article said the same – albeit using many more words, adjectives & metaphors.

    • January 6th 2018 @ 9:22am
      Tezza said | January 6th 2018 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      Waz, Jamie young was outstanding again last night and we could have easily been done by 4 had it of not been for him. Gameiro was wrongly flagged for offside and it would have been interesting to see how he handled a second one on one with the WSW keeper.

      • January 6th 2018 @ 9:42am
        Waz said | January 6th 2018 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        Aloisi is rightly furious over that flagging, that’s the second time in consecutive home games it’s happened (however, Gameiro has had two one on ones with the keeper this season and both times not scored so it fell to the wrong player anyway).

        As for Young, I think he’s bagged the player of the season already – it could have been 5 last night if not for him, and 5 in the first half v Victory if not for him. Roars defensive structures have always been suspect under Aloisi (there is no specialist defensive coach in the team) and this season it is just continuous.

        • January 6th 2018 @ 5:30pm
          j,binnie said | January 6th 2018 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

          Waz – There is only one question to be asked after this recent display of what I will term ,”inept football”.
          The question???? Whereto from here???? Cheers jb.

          • January 6th 2018 @ 6:01pm
            Waz said | January 6th 2018 @ 6:01pm | ! Report


            It’s a valid question. Inept just sums it up.

            Where to from here is the big question?

            Do nothing? That’s highly unlikely imo

            Sack Aloisi? Also highly unlikely imo.

            Shake a few things up? I’d say definitely and soon, most likely after Monday’s game.

            The question is what – assistant coach? Football Director? Add to the coaching staff?? Find a scapegoat???

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