Victory, Roar left frustrated by ALM stalemate

Melbourne Victory’s quest to chase down the A-League Men’s top two has hit a minor speedbump after they were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw with Brisbane Roar on Tuesday evening. 

Able to close the gap on second-place Western United to a single point with a win, Victory was instead left frustrated by a Roar outfit that maintained their defensive discipline, shape, and commitment throughout the evening. 

They’ll take the ten-game unbeaten run that the draw secured – especially given the rapid turnaround between Tuesday and their Melbourne Derby triumph — but will depart AAMI Park knowing that it could have been more. 

“I think we looked a bit tired today,” Victory coach Tony Popovic said.

“It’s been a lot of games in a very short period, four games in a short period but I think we just needed to score first, in the first half.

“We had some good opportunities and moments in the box, just weren’t really decisive enough to get the lead and then the longer it goes, Brisbane has something to hold on to.

They defended well, they tried to play on the counterattack. It’s another clean sheet but we just couldn’t get the break-through.

“I think you can get a little carried away a bit with [focusing on perceived missed opportunities]. I’m disappointed we didn’t win today. We can’t control what happens above us.

“We can only control what we can but I think that’s ten games undefeated and we’ve had a fantastic ten days. Three wins and a draw. We would’ve liked it to have been four wins. I thought we did well enough to win but we just missed the decisive moments in the box so we need to recover well.”

Operating largely in transition or from set-pieces, the Roar were also able to fashion a few chances of their own but were unable to find a way past Victory keeper Ivan Kaleva.

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Their hopes of a place in the ALM finals have all but been snuffed out, the Queensland side finds themselves eight points back of the top six with just five games to play. 

“Overall we’re happy but to be honest we came here to take all three (points), as unfancied as we may have been going into the game, knowing they’ve come off a great result,” said Roar coach Warren Moon.

“But I’m realistic about the opposition we faced today and obviously they had control in moments of the game or good parts of it, but I don’t think they bombarded our goal with many chances.

“We had some great chances of our own and probably could have snuck a winner in the end.”

One of Victory’s best chances of the first half came in just its fifth minute: a swashbuckling move down the left ending in a Ben Folami cross that Marco Rojas just couldn’t stretch out to meet. 

Seeing more of the ball than their foes – a rarity for a side that came into the contest averaging 46.1% possession – Victory spent significant time in the opening exchanges trying to find a way into Brisbane’s penalty area only to be met by a wall of orange shirts. 

““It’s just called hard work,” said Moon. “If I’m honest, [putting in the hard work] probably at times let us down this year with certain individuals.

“But the players we’ve put out on the park are able to do that for us. They’re able to work hard for longer periods and when they fatigue we brought young players on, more mobile players to continue the good work and keep our defensive structure and just work hard.

“Tonight was great because we showed some real resilience.”

Looking to reward his side’s defensive fortitude when they were finally able to move the ball forward, Argentine forward Juan Lescano spun and shot after collecting the ball at the top of the Victory in the 23rd minute, with Ivan Keleva making the save. 

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In a plodding opening 45 minutes in which clear goalscoring opportunities came at a premium, the most notable chance that remained before halftime was Roar’s: a ricocheted ball falling to Scott Neville and the defender sending an effort wide. 

And unfortunately for the home fans in attendance, clear looks at goal would remain frustratingly sparse as the second half progressed. 

Getting down the left, Jason Davidson sent in a cross in the 65th minute that fell for an off-balance Nicholas D’Agostino to shoot straight at Roar keeper Jordan Holmes. 

Nine minutes later Rojas drilled a threatening cross onto the head of second-half substitute Chris Ikonomidis but the attacker’s resulting header flashed just wide of the goal. 

Victory’s sense of urgency clearly rose as the game progressed to its final stages and they continued to press in attack, but they were also saved blushes in the 82nd minute by Jason Geria’s desperate sliding challenge to deny Luke Ivanovic a close-range shot. 

Finding space, Neville met a Jay O’Shea corner with a powerful header two minutes later but the defender’s effort dived just wide of the post. 

The game adding a hint of spice in the final minutes, Victory tried in vain to create something in the dying stages but, largely restricted to the channels, failed to create anything of note. 

Looking ahead, Brisbane will play the last game of their-match road trip when they face off with Macarthur on Friday. Victory will look to add more pressure to Western when they look to head to NSW and down the in-form Newcastle Jets on Saturday. 

“We just approach [the rest of the season] like we have the last couple [of games],” said Moon.

“We’ve gone out to win the last two games, come up short but we picked up a point on the road in two very difficult games.

“So if we get anything out of the next couple of matches it’s experience for our younger players – but we’re not conceding anything. We’re going to go out and try to win every game we play.”

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Header Image Credit: Paramount+

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