Brisbane Roar will look to springboard off a fighting second half against Melbourne Victory tonight when the two sides meet again in the Hyundai A-League at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
The Roar lost the rescheduled Round 18 game 2-1, after trailing 0-2 at halftime, but dominated possession in the second stanza.
Roar captain Matt McKay pulled a goal back in the 51st minute which inspired his side to push forward in the closing stages but the Roar were denied a point by some outstanding Victory defence.
With two games and a maximum six points remaining in the regular season, the Roar are still four points behind sixth-placed Melbourne City on the table and will be looking to turn the tables against the Victory in their Round 26 match on Saturday before meeting Newcastle Jets in the final round.
Roar Head Coach Frans Thijssen conceded his team lost the game in the first half tonight, but said there were a lot of positives in the way his side played the second 45 minutes.
Thijssen said he would use the short turnaround to focus on those positives in preparation for Saturday's showdown with the league leaders who maybe just one win away from securing the Premier's Plate.
"I was not happy with the first half. In the second half they reacted well and played a lot better," Thijssen said.
"But we couldn't finish it off and get something out of it. That's disappointing.
"But we will build on what we showed in the second half. That's the way we want to play all the time."
Thijssen said the loss of speedy winger Brandon Borrello in the warm-up was costly as it restricted the attacking options for the Roar, who often play passes behind the defence for the swift teenager to chase.
"If you don't have quick players you don't have success with that," Thijssen said.
Borrello failed to recover fully from a knee knock in last weekend's 3-2 win over Adelaide United but is expected to be fit for Saturday's re-match with the Victory.
It was the second match in a week the Roar has had to reshufflle its line-up minutes before the whistle. Brisbane lost fullback Shane Stefanutto in the warmup to the AFC Champions League match with Suwon Samsung FC in South Korea last Wednesday.
Despite the late team reshuffle, the hosts started brightly with a trio of threatening set pieces at the Caxton Street end of Suncorp Stadium, the best of which saw Luke Brattan draw a desperate palm away from goal from Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas.
From then, though, Victory took control of the match courtesy of a quick-fire double.
Carl Valeri emphatically fired the visitors into the lead in the 17th minute with a bottom-corner finish, before Fahid Ben Khalfallah freed Besart Berisha – playing his 100th Hyundai A-League match against his former club - to make it 2-0 five minutes later.
Brisbane came close to immediately pulling one back when the in-form Andrija Kaluderovic dispossessed Mathieu Delpierre in the penalty area but the French defender recovered to block the first-time effort.
Victory retained their two-goal lead heading into the half-time break but within six minutes of the restart, Brisbane was back in the contest.
McKay took it upon himself to spark hopes of a comeback by surging forward in possession, collecting a tidy one-two with Kaluderovic and finishing across Thomas at the near post.
Thijssen introduced Steven Lustica, scorer of a hat-trick in the side’s last home outing, and quick-footed youngster Shannon Brady as Brisbane probed for an equaliser.
Victory pair Delpierre and Nick Ansell held firm against incursions led Corey Brown and Thomas Broich, while a suspected quad injury to Luke DeVere handed Young Roar central defender Lachlan Jackson his Hyundai A-League debut six minutes from full time.
The Victory held on to take all three points in the rescheduled match but Brisbane has a unique chance to make amends in just three days’ time as the Melbourne club returns to Suncorp Stadium for a Round 26 fixture on Saturday night.
Brisbane Roar 1 (Matt McKAY 51’)
Melbourne Victory 2 (Carl VALERI 17’ Besart BERISHA 22’)
Hyundai A-League 2014/15 Round 18 (rescheduled)
Wednesday, 15 April at Suncorp Stadium
Referee: Chris Beath
Brisbane Roar: 5. Corey BROWN, 9. ANDRIJA Kaluderovic, 12. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO (8. Steven LUSTICA 64’), 15. James DONACHIE, 17. Matt McKAY, 18. Luke BRATTAN, 19. Jack HINGERT, 21. Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Dimitri PETRATOS (34. Shannon BRADY 75’), 33. Luke DEVERE (26. Lachlan JACKSON 84’)
Substitutes not used: 16. Devante CLUT, 36. Fraser CHALMERS (gk)
Yellow cards: 15. James DONACHIE 90+3’
Red cards: Nil
Melbourne Victory: 2. Jason GERIA (16. Rashid MAHAZI 75’), 4. Nick ANSELL, 5. Mark MILLIGAN (C), 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8. Besart BERISHA, 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES (10. Archie THOMPSON 77’), 14. Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH (11. Connor PAIN, 87’), 15. Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 17. Matthieu DELPIERRE, 20. Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21. Carl VALERI
Substitutes Not Used: 22. Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 42. Lucas SPINELLA (gk)
Yellow cards: 5. Mark MILLIGAN 19’, 8. Besart BERISHA 20’, 6. Leigh BROXHAM 23’ 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES 41’
Red cards: Nil