Mariners hold Roar in NYL
Brisbane Roar remain undefeated in the National Youth League after fighting back from a half-time deficit to secure a 1-1 draw against the Central Coast Mariners who outmuscled and outplayed their hosts for the majority of contest.
The Mariners turned in a red-hot first half and after taking a second minute lead through Mitchell Duke looked set to rack up a fine total, but Brisbane hung on grimly for the first 45 before returning to play a more competitive second frame, which included a fabulous long-range goal equaliser from Ross Archibald in the 77th minute.
Underage rep stars Nicholas Fitzgerald and Sam Munro were in great form for the visitors, while Luke Brattan and Jacob McClean had strong performances for the Roar.
Central Coast were out to a brilliant start when in just the second minute the Fitzgerald latched onto a wayward back pass and played in Duke who made no mistake.
Brisbane replied with strong attack down the left-hand flank, but while livewire front-man Josh McVey was threatening the Mariners defence covered well
A heavy collision between Roar central defender Dane Milovanovic and Mariners captain Munro led to a halt in play before Jerry Kalouris made an ambitious attempt to double the lead with a well-struck shot from 35-yards out.
Fitzgerald was the next of the visitors to threaten the Brisbane goal, shredding the defence with skilful ball-control before firing in a hard shot that Andrew Redmayne saved low to his left.
Milovanovic was in the thick of the action as the last line of defence for Brisbane, forced to clear in desperate defence on multiple occasions as the visitors played a fast flowing brand of attacking football.
Brisbane had no answers for the stronger, faster Central Coast side, and forced off his line to shutdown yet another attacking raid, Redmayne was wobbled by a powerful knock to the head in his attempt to smother a Mitchell Mallia shot in the 25th minute.
Minutes later a rushed back-pass led to a failed attempted clearance from Redmayne, but the Mariners missed another opportunity to extend the advantage.
Brisbane Roar A-League squad member Brattan went down hard with what looked like a serious ankle injury at around the half hour mark, but fortunately for the struggling hosts he was able to continue.
With the first half ticking down, Brisbane finally began to show some purpose, and in the final minutes of the first half had shots at goal from McVey and Matthew Thurtell.
But Brisbane-s best was surpassed just seconds later with Fitzgerald again latching onto a loose ball and driving forward to unleash a thunderbolt, which Redmayne did well to deflect into the woodwork with a diving finger-tip save.
McClean was brought on for Brisbane at the start of the second half and appeared to make an immediate difference, beating players along the sideline and helping to win Brisbane a pair of early corners.
With the hosts increasing their pressure on the pass, the Mariners no longer had the space and time to play men in behind the defence, and the Roar were all of a sudden the attacking team.
Brattan and McVey both had shots spray fractionally wide and for the first time in the match Central Coast gloveman David Bradasevic was being forced to work.
But Brisbane were cooling down as the second half wore on and the Mariners appeared to have seized back the momentum by the 60th minute with substitute Nathan Jagelman looking particularly dangerous up front.
Eventually though Brisbane plucked an equaliser out of the bag, thanks to a great right-foot strike from substitute Ross Archibald which flew flat and low into the right hand corner of the Mariners- goal.
Both sides traded half-chances as time ticked down, but despite close calls to Liam McCormick and McVey for the Roar, and Jagelman for the Mariners, the scores remained level until the final whistle.
Brisbane Roar 1 (Archibald 77) Central Coast Mariners 1 (Duke 2)