It was a season of resurgence for Brisbane Roar, with the club returning to some of their best football in the Hyundai A-League. We take a look at a season of highs and lows for John Aloisi’s outfit and predict what’s in store in 2016/17.
Record: Played 27, Won 14, Drawn 6, Lost 7
Leading Goal Scorer: Jamie Maclaren (20)
Best home crowd: 20,157 – Elimination Final against Melbourne Victory
Star performer: Jamie Maclaren
Maclaren’s move from the west to Brisbane proved to be an excellent career decision with the striker fulfilling his undoubted potential under coach John Aloisi. He opened the season with a double at Wanderland and the goals flowed right throughout the campaign. The 22-year-old finished with 20 for the season – the most ever by an Aussie player – was voted the league’s best young player and picked up a couple of gongs at Brisbane’s post-season awards. A Caltex Socceroos call-up for the upcoming clash with England was the icing on the cake of a stunning season for Maclaren.
Breakout player: Jack Hingert
The young right-back developed into a consistent performer in the A-League and was an ever-present under Aloisi in 2015/16. While Hingert has always shown great speed and endurance since bursting onto the A-League, he added quality and a real maturity this season and was a key figure in the club’s success. The 25-year-old finished the campaign with 56 tackles, 20 successful dribbles and one assist.
Goal of the year: Dimitri Petratos
Petratos contributed some vital goals this season but his belter against City in round 24 was top of the pops. Positioned just outside the box at a corner, he swooped on the headed clearance by Alex Wilkinson and only had one thing on his mind. Petratos controlled the ball on his thigh and then let rip with a left-footed volley which whizzed past Thomas Sorensen into the roof of the net before the keeper could react. An absolute rip-snorter!
Highlight: Finals fightback
After being denied the Premiers’ Plate by Melbourne Victory just six days earlier, Roar was after revenge in the Elimination Final between the two clubs at Suncorp Stadium. But it looked like being another night of frustration and tears as former hero Besart Berisha swept home an 86th-minute goal to give a 10-man Victory the lead. But as Roar has done so many times over the years, there was a sting in the tail. Skipper Matt McKay equalised barely a minute later before Thomas Broich headed home the winner in stoppage time to seal a memorable and heart-stopping 2-1 win to send more than 20,000 home fans into raptures.
Lowlight: Semi Final meltdown
Roar players and fans alike must still be wondering how they didn’t make the A-League decider. Against the Wanderers in the Semi Final in Sydney, Brisbane made start that dreams were made of, racing to a 3-0 lead inside 25 minutes thanks to goals from Petratos, Maclaren and an own goal. But inexplicably Roar capitulated after that as a tidal wave from the Wanderers completed one of the greatest comebacks in A-League history. Brisbane surrendered their three-goal lead within another half an hour, eventually losing 5-4 in extra-time. While they were a big part of arguably the A-League’s best-ever match, throwing away a shot at the title will haunt the team all off-season.
What they need:
Given Roar went within a whisker of both the Premiership and a Grand Final berth, there’s not much Aloisi needs to add to his squad. Another striker to back up Jamie Maclaren would be ideal, as they struggled to find the net when their leading scorer wasn’t there during 2015/16. Midfield depth is a bit light now with three fringe midfielders released so a quality player in the middle of the park should also be on the shopping list. Other than that Aloisi will just need his troops to cut out the defensive lapses which plagued their season, conceding goals in clumps in a lot of matches. They conceded four or more goals in four games, not good enough for a side with title aspirations.
Acquisitions for next season:
Kye Rowles, Connor O’Toole
Losses for next season:
Shane Stefanutto, Devante Clut, Jean Carlos Solorzano, Steven Lustica, Javier Hervas
Outlook for 2016/17:
If Roar can emulate the strides they made on the pitch this season, the 2016/17 will be a fruitful one for the men in Orange. Through a mix of coaching nous from Aloisi, the return to their best of some of Roar’s senior players and the rise of some young talent, Brisbane almost shocked everyone and won everything last season. There’s a confident mood around the club again and you get the sense the belief within the Roar is back to an all-time high. With a couple of quality additions and the hunger to put right what happened at the end of last season, Brisbane should be targeting trophies when the new campaign rolls around.