In-form Inman strikes twice but City fight back to draw with Roar
Brad Inman’s superb double was not enough to earn Brisbane Roar coach Robbie Fowler his first back-to-back wins as Melbourne City hit back twice in a pulsating 2-2 draw.
Inman struck a brace, either side of Craig Noone’s goal, to make it four in three matches as Fowler’s side came to life as the first half drew to a close, but right-back Nathaniel Atkinson had the final word, firing in a thunderbolt on 48 minutes to pull City back level.
Brisbane had been content to contain the Victorians from the off in 33 degree temperatures at Suncorp Stadium but City head coach Erick Mombaerts stuck to his guns, employing his high pressing tactic, as his side dominated possession and territory for half an hour until Roar rocked their visitors in the last 10 minutes of the opening stanza.
Inman added a clinical 34th-minute finish from 15 yards to open the scoring and, after Noone hit back for City five minutes later following Jamie Maclaren’s intelligent headed pass, Roar’s Aussie attacker showed silky skills to double his tally in the third minute of stoppage time.
After Atkinson thrashed in City’s second equaliser, his first Hyundai A-League goal in 42 appearances, the pace slowed and chances dried up in the second half until City keeper Dean Bouzanis denied Inman a hat-trick in the 97th minute. Although the Queenslanders went into the match with a league-high possession average of 57%, they could not gain control as City won the battle for the ball with 63% of possession.
A share of the spoils leaves Mombaerts’ side 11 points behind league leaders Sydney FC in second place, now with Wellington Phoenix breathing down their necks, while Fowler’s outfit remain in ninth but still only two points back from the Hyundai A-League Finals Series spots.
Despite the late afternoon heat, City made an electric start in the River City as Lachlan Wales headed off target and Atkinson tested Jamie Young. Noone then ripped off a 25-yard strike that went over the crossbar after Atkinson won possession high up the field as City completed triple the amount of Roar’s passes in the first quarter of an hour.
Florin Berenguer, Atkinson and Wales took aim again but missed the target, but the tables turned when a 25th-minute injury to birthday boy Scott Neville prompted a drinks break and Roar surged back into the game when Aaron Amadi-Holloway headed over from substitute Jake McGing’s cross, Inman lifted a shot over and Mirza Muratovic’s rifled effort deflect off target.
The pressure paid when Muratovic’s driving run fell to Jay O’Shea, who saw his shot blocked and Inman slammed the loose ball past Bouzanis. City immediately upped the tempo as Young dived full-length to push away Wales’ header and moments later, Noone lashed in from close range after Maclaren cushioned Scott Jamieson’s cross into the Englishman’s path.
Young was forced into a stunning double save as first Maclaren and then Wales could not turn in Noone’s teasing cross and Inman punished the visitors at the other end with some superb footwork to beat Josh Brillante before slotting Fowler’s side in front at half-time.
Rostyn Griffiths, starting in place of the injured Richard Windbichler, almost scrambled a late first-half leveller before Atkinson finally made his series of speculative efforts count on 48 minutes with a sensational strike from almost 30 yards. City took the initiative after the goal and Young denied them a first lead, saving from Adrian Luna’s angled drive.
Another drinks break could not prompt a Roar resurgence as legs became heavy in energy-sapping conditions. Brisbane’s Tom Aldred picked up a yellow card and a one-match ban, before his centre-back partner Macaulay Gillesphey made a game-saving tackle to deny Maclaren as the Socceroos hitman was about to pull the trigger. Inman saw a late chance to complete his treble pass him by when Bouzanis' legs came to City's rescue.
Noone comes close to opening the scoring
Inman strikes to make it three goals in three
Noone slams in from close range after Maclaren's unselfish header
Inman shows his silky skills to score three minutes into first-half stoppage time
Atkinson landed a thunderbolt to bring City back level
Brisbane Roar v Wellington Phoenix
Saturday, 18 January 2020
Kick off: 4pm local, 5pm AEDT
Melbourne City v Newcastle Jets
Saturday, 18 January 2020
Kick off: 7.30pm AEDT