McDonald goal the difference for Roar in tight Mariners tussle

Brisbane Roar moved into fourth on the Hyundai A-League table with a 1-0 win over Central Coast Mariners at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

A first-half strike from Scott McDonald was all that was needed for Brisbane to hand the Mariners a ninth loss on the bounce, and their ninth away loss in a row.

But while they compounded the Mariners' misery Brisbane further enhanced their own credentials as Finals Series contenders, as they moved two points clear of Perth Glory in fourth, who have played two games less than Robbie Fowler's side.

The Mariners looked nothing like the Hyundai A-League's bottom-placed outfit in the first half as they crafted a series of chances on the counter attack, with Chris Harold and Daniel De Silva looking particularly dangerous and testing Jamie Young in Brisbane's goal.

But Mariners striker Jordan Murray wasted the visitors' best chance of the first half to go ahead, pouncing on a Young block from De Silva's curling effort but prodding his shot over the bar under pressure from Aiden O'Neill.

Brisbane recovered from their sluggish start to the game and came alive as the first half drew to a close; O'Neill forced Mark Birighitti into a sharp save with an outstretched boot before a reactive strike from Scott McDonald challenged the Mariners' goalkeeper into making an excellent save once again.

But for all Central Coast's early positivity Brisbane proved the more ruthless side in the first half when McDonald put the hosts in front.

For the second time in as many games a first-half strike from McDonald was chalked offside, but a VAR check saw Brad Inman was indeed onside before receiving the ball to set up the goal, and the decision was reversed to hand Brisbane a 1-0 lead at the break.

Brisbane gained composure in the second half and began to outplay the Mariners who seemed to lack the energy which had them on the front foot throughout the opening stanza.

Mirza Muratovic almost made it two just before the hour mark, fashioning a strike off the outside of his right boot which drifted just wide of the bottom right corner after some excellent interplay from Jay O'Shea and McDonald.

The Mariners refused to say die in a rather gallant and resilient display; they pushed hard to the end of the contest and offered plenty of threat to Brisbane's penalty area as time ran down but couldn't find an equaliser, succumbing to their ninth loss on the bounce and handing the hosts a further reason to believe they are serious Finals Series contenders. 

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Key Moments

Duric feeds Harold an early sighter

Tearing through the heart of Brisbane's midfield, Duric sized up a number of options before feeding Harold into the box and one-on-one with Young.

Harold took the strike on with his left boot but Young was out quickly to sprawl in front of the shot and parry it away from danger.

CHANCE: Young denies Harold an early goal

De Silva denied, Murray wastes golden chance

The Mariners were splitting Brisbane apart with ease throughout the first half and their best chances of the opening stanza fell to De Silva and Murray in quick succession, but both players failed to make their side's advantage count.

De Silva was the first to see his poked shot denied by a diving Young and Murray looked set to tap home the rebound, but pressure at the back post from a desperate O'Neill ensured Murray's attempt blazed high and wide from close range.

CHANCES: De Silva, Murray go close but can't break Roar resolve

Birighitti prods McDonald's attempt around the post

Birighitti did his best to keep scores level late in the first half, and pulled off a brilliant stop to deny McDonald a goal which seemed destined for the top corner.

Corey Brown picked out McDonald with a cut-back and the 36-year-old struck it first time, but Birighitti was quick to move to his left and get a fingertip to the shot and send it wide of the mark.

CHANCE: Birighitti keeps McDonald at bay

Roar weather the storm, take the lead

The Mariners looked the better outfit for most of the first half but Brisbane rallied late to take the lead through McDonald's third goal in two games. 

The sharp team move started with a pass from O'Neill to Mirza Muratovic with his back to goal; he shovelled the ball out to Brown who slid a perfect pass to Inman to collect, turn and find McDonald waiting at the back post to brush home the opener.

The goal was originally ruled out as Inman was adjudged offside in the buildup but a VAR check overruled the decision, handing the Roar a half-time advantage.

GOAL: McDonald scores late in the first stanza

SATURDAY PREVIEW: Sydney FC v Perth Glory
SATURDAY PREVIEW: Melbourne City v Western Sydney Wanderers

Round 24

Melbourne Victory v Brisbane Roar
Sunday, 22 March 
Kick-off: 6pm AEDT

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Match centre

Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne City
Friday, 20 March 
Central Coast Stadium
Kick off: 7.30pm AEDT

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Match centre