An 86th minute goal by Brisbane Roar striker Jamie MacLaren gave the Brisbane Roar a 2-1 win over the Wellington Phoenix on a hot and steamy Saturday afternoon in Cairns.
Fresh from their win over defending champions Melbourne Victory, the Phoenix looked on track for another three points when Roy Krishna gave them the lead with a well-taken goal in first-half added time.
The Phoenix played some nice football in the first 45 minutes and continued in that vein after the interval.
Three times they opened up the Roar defence to be one-on-one with goalkeeper Jamie Young but couldn’t find a second goal that would surely have given them three points.
Unfortunately for the Wellington side on the last of those occasions the home side mounted a counter-attack and Steve Lustica, who had only been on the field five minutes, got the equaliser.
It was from another counter-attack in the 86th minute that MacLaren took advantage of a wilting Phoenix defence to break free and score the winner.
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick had no complaints about his team’s performance, especially given the difficult conditions.
“It has been a tough schedule for the boys with playing the top four teams one after the other with three away from home and the home game being played away (in Auckland),” Merrick said.
“Despite that I thought the game was there to win and to concede in the 86th minute was tough to take.
“I can only praise the boys but feel we should have got a point at least.”
Merrick said it was disappointing that Roar’s equaliser had come from his team having a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
“We had a couple of great chances to go two goals up and that would have been enough to see us through.
“The longer the game went on we deteriorated due to the weather conditions while Roar adapted well as they play and train regularly in this type of weather.”
Merrick said another problem was the lack of back up players on the bench late in the game.
“Tom Doyle began vomiting just before the warm up and had to drop out of the squad,” he said.
“Ben Sigmund and Justin Gulley picked up injuries in the training session the day we arrived.
“It meant we lost three defenders and while I thought Matt Ridenton did a pretty good job the lad isn’t a left back.
“Considering the squad we had and it was against another top team away from home I thought we acquitted ourselves well but all credit to Roar who did well.
“Now we have a home game against Sydney on Saturday and then we are off on the road again for games against Adelaide United and Central Coast Mariners.”