Brisbane Roar have had a season of two halves in the A-League.
One point from their opening two games wouldn’t have been the start the Brisbane Roar were hoping for.
Nearly 13,000 witnessed the Roar go down to a single goal last Friday night, with Melbourne Victory continuing their recent fine form at Suncorp.
But what have we learnt from the Robbie Fowler era thus far?
Against Victory and Perth Glory, a pattern seems to have emerged. The Roar have been slow to get out of the blocks and have conceded in both first halves.
There has been improved second 45-minute showings and an added steel which was sorely missing last season, although goalscoring chances have been at a premium.
Fowler seems to have a robust defence in place, which was so often the Achilles heel last season, although there are still some questioning the use of a three-man central defence. Andrew Nabbout caught Brisbane napping on Friday, Ola Toivonen’s tantalising through ball sending the pacy striker through on goal to finish from close range.
There would have been sighs of relief all round to see the goalscorer depart on the half hour after he succumbed to a hamstring strain.
The creative burden in midfield seem to be largely placed on the shoulders of Jay O’Shea.
The Irishman impressed on Friday, his dribble and cutback in the second half teeing up fellow countryman Roy O’Donovan, who had been afforded the freedom of Lang Park.
Inexplicably, the striker fired over when it seemed an equaliser was inevitable. It was a chance the Roar could ill afford to waste, but Fowler – who would have happily gobbled up the chance in his playing pomp – was quick to defend the forward in his post-match conference.
His strike partner, Brad Inman – although acquitting himself well in pre-season – has been a peripheral figure in his first two outings and may be looking over his shoulder.
A potential replacement is Aaron Amadi-Holloway. The Welshman is still finding his way back to full fitness after injury disruption, being restricted to brief cameos so far. He offers the Roar a plan b of going more direct when necessary, his physicality causing headaches for defences.
Fowler seems reluctant to hand Holloway a start anytime soon though, with the concern being the frontman may blow a gasket, and will continue to carefully monitor his return.
That leaves seemingly fourth-choice striker Dylan Wenzel-Halls.
The 21-year-old was a rare highlight in last season’s wretched campaign, and there have been calls to hand the youngster a start.
Weeks into his tenure, Fowler said he was wrong about the former Western Pride star, praising his attitude and workrate. That said, Wenzel-Halls was not involved in the matchday squad against Perth and only entered the fray against Victory as an injury-time sub.
Perhaps though, he may come into the reckoning for the upcoming weekend.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Roar as they travel to Wanderland to take on a Western Sydney side buoyed by their 100 per cent start to the season and their recent derby success against Sydney FC.
There needs to be more evidence of the doggedness and determination that has been on show if Brisbane are to take anything from this game, while hoping for a change of fortunes in front of goal.
Of course, these are still early days, and this is a new side still getting to know one another.
Patience will be required with this work in progress and hopes will be they can manage to keep up the pace with the top six.
A point – or, even better, all three – on the weekend would be the perfect kickstart.