Victory remain winless after Roar stalemate
Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar both remain winless after a a 1-1 draw at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, a result that leaves both clubs in the lower reaches of the A-League table.
A striker can do almost nothing for 90 minutes, but if he scores the only goal of the game, then he has done his job.
Victory striker Besart Berisha had been a largely peripheral figure against his former club until his strike 11 minutes from time looked as though it would give Victory their first win of the season.
Teenager Christian Theoharous, just off the bench, played the ball across to Victory’s Dutch winger Leroy George, who found Berisha in enough space for the feisty frontman to thump the ball past Roar goalkeeper Jamie Young.
But Victory’s jubiliation was short-lived, as Brisbane were back on level terms four minutes later when Brett Holman, another substitute, swept in Jack Hingert’s cross from the right to tie things up.
The deadlock means that Victory’s worst start to a season continues. Never before have they gone six matches without a win to kick off a campaign, and they are now 10 points behind league leaders Newcastle, who went top of the table with their win in Adelaide earlier on Saturday.
Fans who needed their fix of tension and excitement probably got a sufficient hit early in the day as they sweated through the Socceroos’ performance in Honduras – which was just as well for those who fronted up in time for the opening exchanges of this game when not a lot was going on.
Berisha, back from suspension, struggled to get involved in the early stages.
As has been the case so far this season, Victory’s two newest signings, defender Rhys Williams and George, looked their two most impressive players.
Williams has the class and ability to force his way into World Cup calculations should his body, which so often lets him down, hold up through the rigours of a full A-League season, provided make it to the finals by seeing off Honduras on Wednesday night.
George, who played for the Netherlands at junior level, has consistently looked one of Victory’s most dangerous options in the five games in which he has been involved, either attacking directly or setting up chances for his teammates with his excellent delivery from set pieces.
For Brisbane, equally anxious to kick-start their season, coach John Aloisi was forced to make an instantaneous reshuffle as former Victory winger Fahid Ben Khalfallah sustained an injury in the warm-up.
The ex-Socceroo striker had to draft in Nicholas D’Agostino for an earlier introduction from the bench than he would have preferred.
It wasn’t until the 20th minute that the game started to show some semblance of life, George’s corner from the right causing chaos in the Roar penalty area as Brisbane’s ex-Italy striker Massimo Maccarone got his head on the ball, deflecting it towards his own goal rather than away.
His blushes were spared by Young’s sharp save.
Six minutes later Williams’ header went wide from another George set-piece before Brisbane finally drew Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas into action.
Roar’s French recruit Eric Bautheac fired over a well-flighted free kick and Greek defender Avram Papadopoulos got clear of his marker to power a header that looked sure to break the deadlock, until Williams scrambled back to hook the ball away to safety.
A minute later Bautheac almost set up D’Agostino, the forward’s header forcing Thomas to dive smartly and parry away.
The second half brought more of the same.
George’s free kick on the hour skidded through to Young when a touch from one of his teammates might have brought greater reward, then with some 20 minutes remaining he linked up well on the right with Argentine midfielder Matias Sanchez before driving a shot just wide of the post.
Once more the Dutchman was denied a minute later when he cut in well from the left and made space for himself only for Young to produce a fine diving save from his deflected shot.
It looked headed for a stalemate, and that’s how it turned out thanks to the two late goals.