Brisbane Roar needed an Enver Alivodic own goal to rescue a 2-2 draw with Newcastle Jets at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
The Jets snared a shock first-half lead as quickfire goals from Mitch Cooper and Milos Trifunovic overturned an early deficit, but Brisbane raised the tempo after the restart to earn an equaliser with 20 minutes to play.
Jamie Maclaren earlier opened the scoring from the spot in just the sixth minute, but both sides were forced to settle a point when Jade North’s attempted cross was diverted past Mark Birrighitti.
WHAT THEY SAID
“End of the day we’ll take a point. Newcastle battled well tonight so credit to them; it’s unfortunate we couldn’t break them down tonight. They made it difficult for us and obviously I played for Newcastle, so there’s always that heart and spirit there.” – Brisbane defender Jade North
“It’s a great point away from home, it’s a tough place to come to and get a result. (It’s) disappointing going 2-1 up and giving away a soft goal midway through the second half but it’s a great point to take back to Newcastle after a great result last week.” – Newcastle goalkeeper Mark Birighitti
1-0 Jamie Maclaren (6’) – Jets were dealt an early setback when fullback Nick Cowburn was adjudged to have brought down Brandon Borrello inside the penalty area. Mark Birighitti did well to save Maclaren’s initial low attempt, but couldn’t prevent the in-form forward from sidefooting home his 11th of the season on the rebound.
1-1 Mitch Cooper (15’) – After initially shaping to flash one across the face, Enver Alivodic turned out and instead whipped a terrific left-footed cross in the direction of lone target Mitch Cooper. The midfielder moved smartly to drift off James Donachie and guide his stretching header into the bottom left corner.
1-2 Milos Trifunovic (19’) – Newcastle drew the second penalty of a chaotic first 20 minutes when Corey Brown dived to head away Leonardo’s cross, only to steer it with his outstretched hand. Milos Trifunovic coolly capped a rapid Jets turnaround by sending Theo the wrong way from the spot.
2-2 Enver Alivodic OG (69’) – Jade North, sizing up a potential second goal in as many matches, stayed forward for a Roar attack and received a deft pass-on-the-turn from Corona. Alivodic made a sliding attempt at a block but could only divert the attempted low cross inside the far post.
Newcastle’s mental fortitude immediately after falling behind belied their reputation.
The nine steadying minutes between going a goal down and restoring parity were indicative of improved maturity, having themselves collapsed when faced with similar adversity against Perth Glory just three weeks ago.
They would eventually relent to Roar’s second-half push for an equaliser, but it was their earlier efforts which changed the course of a seemingly straightforward affair.
Newcastle Jets might have the fewest goals this Hyundai A-League season but it hardly looked that way in the construction of their equaliser.
Mitch Cooper exhibited shades of Bruno Fornaroli to get between defender and goalkeeper and measure a textbook header into the bottom corner. The delivery was just as classy as Enver Alivodic remained patient in the lead-up before picking out his teammate’s run.
If it was surprising to see scores level so soon after Brisbane grabbed the opener, what happened next was truly unfathomable.
Corey Brown’s attempt to clear Leonardo’s cross was all kinds of awkward as he only succeeded in blatantly handling the ball and gifting the visitors a quickfire second.
THE FINAL WORD
Roar looked set to repeat their comfortable dismissal of Central Coast Mariners when Jamie Maclaren fortuitously opened the scoring inside six minutes.
However, the Jets proved to be far more troubling opposition and worked hard to escape with a fifth draw of the season.
Scott Miller’s side will look to give their unlikely Finals Series chances a boost when they host Wellington Phoenix next Saturday, while Brisbane Roar must hope Western Sydney Wanderers slip-up ahead of a trip to face Perth Glory.