The Brisbane Roar visited Blue Tongue Stadium in Gosford for a clash against the third placed Central Coast Mariners for Round 26 but more on that in a second.
The flooding in Queensland in the past two days has had a disasterous impact on the whole of Brisbane and Suncorp Stadium has been no different. The pitch is shoulder deep in flood water as we speak. And I mean shoulder deep for a normal person, so Massimo Murdocca and Matt McKay would have to bring a snorkel. The short term impact is that this Sunday’s home game against the Wellington Phoenix has been postponed until a later date. The long term impact is that it’s not exactly clear. We don’t know the extent of the damage to the pitch or the stadium and how this will affect the Roar’s ability to host upcoming fixtures. The Roar’s usual training ground is also completely waterlogged. It’s hardly the ideal preparation leading into Finals Football in February.
Anyway, this road game for the Roar was always expected to be challenging and it would be a welcome diversion for fans from the events of the last few days but I went into the game with low expectations and full of doubt. We’ve gone twenty one games without defeat. We’ve racked up some injuries with Henrique and Franjic both out of the squad. One of our best players and captain Matt McKay is away on international duty. The players are at the tail end of an exhausting season. I had a gut feeling that this would be the game to break the Streak. We have to lose eventually and I have a feeling this is it.
The Mariners certainly played like a squad that had done their homework and learnt how to play against the Roar (they were humiliated 5-1 at home when they last met). They were ruthless in the midfield, cutting off the Roar’s usual supply channels through Mass Murdocca and Eric Paartalu. Our playmaker on the wing Broich was also given little room to work with and shut down quickly. The Roar were frustrated and the Mariners asserted themselves.
It was surprising then, when against the run of play, the Roar earned themselves a corner on the 23 minute mark and Paartalu rose above some pretty ordinary Mariners defending and headed the ball into the back of the net to give the Roar the lead. Not long after that, referee Peter Green appeared to miss a legitimate claim for a penalty for the Mariners when Kosta Barbarouses handled the ball in his own penalty area. Green waived play on. Huh, maybe this will be our day after all. Still I can’t help but feel it won’t be. Nope, there it is. With about five minutes to go in the half, the Mariners finally made their possession and territorial dominance count. An incisive throughball put Adam Kwaznik through in a one on one showdown with the keeper and he netted a goal with a cool first touch that beat Theoklitos. Halftime, the teams headed into the sheds with the scores locked one all.
I still have a bad feeling about this.
It took all of 100 seconds in the second half for the Mariners to take the lead. A free kick on the edge of the area was whipped into the goal and latched onto by striker Matt Simon and they suddenly found themselves 2-1 up. I couldn’t really see how the Roar would find the energy or the mental fortitude to bounce back. The Mariners were pushing hard for a third goal and it looked only a matter of time. I probably should learn to have more faith in my side. After copping an absolute battering from the Mariners who peppered the Roar goal with shot after shot, the Roar found their focus and on the counter attack, a through ball from Solorzano found Thomas Broich who slammed the ball into the back of the net. 2-2! It was a welcome return to the scoresheet for the German and couldn’t have come at a better time. I couldn’t believe it. I just felt we were going to lose this game and here was Broich getting us right back in it!
The momentum once again appeared to swing back in favour of the Roar. I thought that we could even go on to win this thing. Then…Peter Green struck and he struck hard. When the Mariners poured on another attack in the penalty area, Roar defender Milan Susak cleanly tackled the ball to save a certain goal. Thomas Green promptly awarded the penalty and gave Susak his marching orders, reducing the Roar to ten men. Central Coast took the lead once more when Argentinian striker Perez slotted home from the spot to put the home side up 3-2.
This is usually the time when it would be handy to have a supersub like Henrique to come on and inject a bit of energy and creativity into the Roar. Instead Henrique was injured and back in Queensland. Instead we had two fresh-faced no name youngsters come on. Bratten and Myers. With his first touch, Myers took the ball outside the penalty area, struck the ball sweet and true and fired it into the back of the net, drawing the scores level once more. THREE ALL! GET IN THERE!!!! I CAN’T BELIEVE! NEW GUY SCORED! GOOD GOING, NEW GUY!
And thats the way the scores stayed until the fulltime whistle. I had a minor coronary when we had a goal line clearance to stop a fourth Mariners goal and I used some language I probably shouldn’t have when Kosta Barbarouses flubbed a final opportunity six yards out for the Roar but I was more than happy to settle for the point. I certainly didn’t think we had it in us. 3-3. The streak stretches out to 21 games unbeaten. An incredible game.
And I wouldn’t let Peter Green referee an under-12’s game, let alone another A-League game. That guy had an absolute shocker.
With their next home game postponed and the state of Suncorp Stadium uncertain, the next match for the Roar won’t be for another fortnight. A welcome bit of rest for the men in orange.
BRISBANE ROAR 3 CENTRAL COAST MARINERS 3