Roar surge into top six after second-half rally sinks Mariners
Persistence paid off for Brisbane Roar as Robbie Fowler's men finally broke down the Central Coast Mariners in a 2-0 win at Suncorp Stadium.
Roy O’Donovan opened the scoring against his former club on 61 minutes, before Scott Neville netted his first goal in an Orange jersey five minutes later to clinch all three points.
O’Donovan was denied on the stroke of half-time when clean through on goal, as Roar remained the only Hyundai A-League team without a first-half goal.
But Fowler’s charges found their killer instinct after the break and recalled Brisbane keeper Jamie Young excelled to extend Roar’s 16-match unbeaten streak against Central Coast.
Following a moment’s applause to remember the late Socceroos head coach Pim Verbeek, the Roar came out firing in stifling conditions and Jay O’Shea curled a smart, second-minute free-kick into the side-netting of the Mariners goal.
Brisbane kept the pressure on and Stefan Mauk saw his strike from the edge of the box saved, before Dylan Wenzel-Halls stung Mark Birighitti’s hands with a low drive.
Fowler had rung the changes, bringing in four players and switching formation. His four-man backline were almost caught out when Kim Eun-sun raced on to Giancarlo Gallifuoco’s searching ball but the Korea Republic attacker watched his strike crash off the bar.
That was the first time Central Coast had ventured forward in the opening 15 minutes, but they grew into the game when Gallifuoco slammed an effort wide, while captain Matt Simon was stopped at close range by Young, after Tommy Oar’s slick through ball.
Brisbane were denied a maiden first-half goal for the season when O’Donovan could not finish a one-on-one, with Birighitti making the all-important block, and it seemed Roar’s goal-scoring problems were settling in.
After a slow start to the second stanza, Dylan Wenzel-Halls threatened when his rifled shot was saved by Birighitti on the hour mark, and moments later he provided the break-through assist.
O’Donovan’s intelligent run left marker Ziggy Gordon stranded and the Irishman notched his fourth goal of the season. Five minutes later, Neville found space to nod in O’Shea’s corner.
Central Coast went in search of a reply but, after Gianni Stensness lashed over, substitute Sam Silvera was thwarted at close range by Young's outstanding save on 81 minutes.
Kim almost makes a name for himself
Brisbane Roar had dominated the opening exchanges but it was the visiting Mariners who almost drew first blood with a quick-fire counter attack.
Giancarlo Gallifuoco launched the break away with a precision through ball into the right-hand channel and Kim Eun-sun left the Roar backline in his wake.
The Korea Republic attacker fired a shot across goal on his right foot but Jamie Young's crossbar came to the home side's rescue as Brisbane breathed a sign of relief.
Young denies Simon a first goal of the season
Roar may have dominated possession and territory but Central Coast have created the best chances and Matt Simon had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock.
Collecting Tommy Oar's perfectly weighted through ball, the Mariners captain bore down on goal as Jamie Young raced out to narrow the angle.
Simon's first touch took him wide and Young, starting his first game of the Hyundai A-League season, narrowed the angle to parry the veteran striker's attempt wide of the post.
Birighitti to the rescue to deny O'Donovan
Brisbane Roar are the only Hyundai A-League side not to have scored a first-half goal in the 2019/20 season, and the whole of Suncorp Stadium thought that was about to change.
As Roy O'Donovan raced through on goal, the Irish marksman had the whole goal to aim at, but Mariners keeper Mark Birighitti had other intentions.
Moments later, Brad Inman forced his way around the back of the Central Coast defence but the Roar winger could not find an Orange jersey as the Mariners scrambled the ball clear.
O'Donovan makes amends for earlier miss
Wenzel-Halls was creating all sort of problems for Central Coast by drifting on to the right-side of the field and cutting inside.
First he saw a low drive parried away by Birighitti, and then moments later he turned creator.
A devastating low cross from Wenzel-Halls found O'Donovan's crisp run to the near post and the Roar sharpshooter does not miss from that sort of range.
Neville climbs highest to double Roar's advantage
As soon as one goal arrived, another came along five minutes later.
This time Scott Neville was on the mark, wriggling free from his marker in the Central Coast penalty area and heading his first goal for the club since joining in the off-season.
After their Round 9 bye, Central Coast Mariners play away at Sydney FC on Saturday, 14 December. The match at Nestrata Jubilee Stadium kicks off at 7.30pm AEDT.
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