Preview: North Queensland Fury v Brisbane Roar
It's the third Queensland derby in just five weeks as the new boys from the North get a crack at the established Roar on Saturday evening in what might prove to be the round's best matches.
Date: Saturday September 5 Kick-off: 7:00pm AEST Venue: Dairy Farmer Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 3. To purchase tickets visit www.ticktek.com.au
Season so far: Brisbane: Round 1: Brisbane Roar 1, Gold Coast United 3, Suncorp Stadium Round 2: Melbourne Victory 3, Brisbane Roar 3, Etihad Stadium Round 3: Brisbane Roar 1, Wellington Phoenix 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 4: Brisbane Roar 1, Central Coast 0, Suncorp Stadium
North Queensland: Round 1: North Queensland 2, Sydney FC 3, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 2: Gold Coast United 5, North Queensland 0, Skilled Park Round 3: North Queensland 0, Melbourne Victory 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 4: Adelaide United 3, North Queensland 3, Hindmarsh Stadium
Analysis: It's the third Queensland derby in just five weeks as the new boys from the North get a crack at the established Roar on Saturday evening in what might prove to be the round's best matches.
North Queensland of course, is still looking for that elusive first win in the competition but one suspects it's not far away after commendable efforts over the last fortnight. The Fury may have been over-awed a little by Gold Coast United in Round 2, but could have almost claimed full points against season's two grand finalists Melbourne and Adelaide in the last two weeks. In both cases, it's been the unfortunate figure of Dyron Daal who's been the centre of the drama. The substitute missed a one-on-one chance against Melbourne that would have levelled the scores after North Queensland dominated the match, while Daal's injury-time handball last week against Adelaide allowed Lucas Pantelis to slot an equaliser from the spot just seconds after Daniel McBreen had given the Fury a 92nd-minute lead.
Despite the club's defensive frailties - they've conceded 12 goals already this season - there's been plenty to like about the developing Fury side. At times, they've played some breath-taking football, with midfielder James Robinson's lofted cross for Robbie Fowler's goal against Adelaide right up there with the league's best highlights. However, former Perth man Robinson isn't a guaranteed starter this week as coach Ian Ferguson finally has the opportunity to unleash his best midfield against the Roar, with Jason Spagnuolo returning to complement Robbie Middleby and Ufuk Talay. Livewire Fred Agius could also be given a starting position on the left flank, meaning the Fury have a speedy midfielder to deliver the crosses from that side and a trio of excellent ball distributors to take it through the middle to the waiting Fowler and Daniel McBreen. However, the midfield will have to be defensively responsible as well, for North Queensland has lost Shane Stefanutto to the Qantas Socceroos' side that's taking on the Korean Republic and this could prove a massive loss for Ferguson's men.
The Fury have played Brisbane twice already during the pre-season but those matches count for nought as the Roar look to build on their first win of the season last weekend at Suncorp Stadium. Frank Farina's side may have endured a difficult opening three weeks, where they went winless despite playing some excellent football, but skipper Craig Moore's inspirational efforts against Central Coast seem to have steadied the ship. Not only did Moore nod home what proved to be the winning goal in the 11th minute, but he proved rock solid in defence alongside Bob Malcom, the two centre-halves negating Adam Kwasnik and Nik Mrdja's aerial threat while starving Matt Simon of any opportunities whatsoever. Indeed, the Roar should have scored substantially more than just the one goal, but were denied by Danny Vukovic's brilliance between the sticks on numerous occasions.
Brisbane, though, has taken a massive hit this week, losing central midfielder Matt McKay for two months to a knee injury. In McKay's absence, Farina has bolstered his squad by bringing in Josh McLoughan and Tommy Oar, who return from injury and suspension respectively, while Michael Zullo has also been promoted to the extended squad, which will be cut by three by match-time.
Aside from injuries, Farina has other concerns, namely the Roar's inability to kill off a contest. In Round 2, Brisbane was 3-1 ahead of Melbourne and still managed to almost lose while a Mariners side coach Lawrie McKinna described as 'passionless' could have easily stolen a point late in that game after Brisbane missed chance after chance. Admittedly, they were denied by Vukovic's brilliance, but the inability to notch those crucial goals when the Roar can field players like Sergio van Dijk, Henrique, Charlie Miller and Danny Tiatto must be a concern. Fortunately for Farina, his side's coming up against the most porous defence in the league this weekend, but the Roar can't afford to drop their intensity, for the Fury will keep coming as Adelaide will surely attest.
North Queensland squad: 1.Paul HENDERSON (gk), 2.Robbie MIDDLEBY, 3.Chris TADROSSE, 6.Ufuk TALAY 7.Jason SPAGNUOLO, 9.Robbie FOWLER (c), 11.David WILLIAMS, 14.Chris GROSSMAN, 15.Fred AGIUS, 16.Paul KOHLER, 18.James ROBINSON, 19.Daniel MCBREEN, 20.Justin PASFIELD (gk), 21.John TAMBOURAS 22.Karl DODD, 23.Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 24.Dyron DAAL
*two to be omitted*
In: Jason SPAGNUOLO (promoted), David WILLIAMS (returns from injury), John TAMBOURAS (promoted)
Out: Shane STEFANUTTO (international duty)
Unavailable: Scott Wilson (foot - 2weeks), Jacob Timpano (hamstring - indefinite), Jeremy Brockie (quadriceps - 4 weeks)
Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 3. Luke DEVERE, 4. Craig MOORE (c), 5. Josh McCLOUGHAN, 6. David DODD, 7. Michael ZULLO, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK, 10. Charlie MILLER, 11. REINALDO, 12. Matt MUNDY, 13. HENRIQUE, 16. Bob MALCOLM, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 18. Danny TIATTO, 20. Griffin McMASTER (gk), 21. Tommy OAR, 24. Robbie KRUSE.
*two to be omitted*
In: Josh McCLOUGHAN (returns from injury), Tommy OAR (returns from suspension), Michael ZULLO (promoted)
Out: Matt McKAY (injured - 6/8 weeks)
Unavailable: Andrew PACKER (adductor - 2/3 months), Massimo MURDOCCA (fractured leg - 3/4 months)