Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce will come under fire tonight for leaving out star-striker, Bruno Fornaroli, in his team’s insipid 2-0 loss to the Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
Fornaroli was included in the City squad listed on Thursday afternoon, but failed to travel with the team on Friday. The effects of his absence were clear as the city-attack, lead by Riley McGree playing as a false-nine, failed to ignite in any meaningful way.
Both sides engaged in a game of ‘cat and mouse’ for the opening 15 minutes of the contest, waiting for the opponent to make the first move. However, some sleepy defending from Nathaniel Atkinson allowed Adam Taggart to run unmarked to the front post, heading Eric Bautheac’s corner straight past Eugene Galekovic and into the back of the net, giving the Roar a slim advantage at the break.
While the second half was more watchable for the neutral, Joyce was unable to inspire any response from a City side that seem totally unsure of their game plan.
The visitor's woes were compounded in the 66th minute when Alex Lopez curled a beautiful ball through to Tobias Mikkelsen, who prodded it on to Taggart. With three City defenders on their heels, Taggart curled his shot beautifully into the top right corner, again leaving Galekovic no chance.
The win is the Roar’s first of the season, and the first time City have been kept scoreless in an away-match since 2017.
Jamie Young - 8
Made some key saves early on, but was largely untroubled by a makeshift City attack.
Connor O’Toole - 7
The youthful O’Toole showed temerity in running at the City full-backs, causing them problems all night.
Daniel Bowles - 7
Dealt with everything the City forwards could throw at him, lacks some refinement on the ball but played his role to perfection tonight.
Avraam Papadopoulos - 7
The fiery Greek lived up to his reputation once again, landing some strong first-half slide tackles on his counterparts.
Jack Hingert - 6
Played his role well, although went unnoticed for most of the match.
Alex Lopez - 8
The Roar’s Spaniard was influential in attack, providing the key pass for Taggart’s second goal. Proved he could match it with the A-League’s most creative midfielders.
Matt Mckay - 7
The 35 year-old’s experience shone through as he martialed Brisbane’s defensive unit, preventing City from gaining any significant foothold in the midfield. The Roar captain was replaced by debutant Wenzel-Halls in the 92nd minute.
Thomas Kristensen - 7
Worked hard up and down the field, showed his technical ability on the ball. Used his lanky stature and foot-skills to great effect in holding up the ball, allowing Roar’s dynamic attack to get up the field and into dangerous positions.
Tobias Mikkelsen - 8
The Dane was dynamic at left-wing, registering his best performance for the season so far, with exciting future prospects for Roar fans.
Adam Taggart - 9
Didn’t see too much of the ball but provided a good link up with the Roar midfielders, and took his two chances with aplomb to give Brisbane the three points. Dislocated his shoulder for 30 seconds in the first-half, but was able to recover and register a man-of-the-match performance.
Eric Bautheac - 8
Was on the receiving end of a terrible challenge by Harrison Delbridge early on, but recovered to provide a pivotal creative spark in the Roar attack. Beat players one-on-one and put the ball on a dime for Taggart and Mikkelsen.
Stefan Nigro - N/A
Made his Roar debut as a substitute for Mikkelsen in the 86th minute.
Dylan Wenzel-Halls - N/A
Made his Roar debut as a substitute for Roar captain Matt Mckay in the 92nd minute.
Henrique - 6
Fan favourite, Henrique, lacked polish as he turned the ball over multiple times. However his laziness was inconsequential as Roar held on to their 2-0 lead.
Galekovic - 7
Didn’t make any notable mistakes and was let down by a lacklustre team-defensive effort by City.
Scott Jamieson - 6
Touched the ball 121 times throughout the match, the most of any City player. However was unable to provide any moments of quality for the City forwards to latch on to.
Harrison Delbridge - 8
Used his strength and pace to good effect. Prevented three Roar goals in the second half, including a smart headed clearance off the line in the 72nd minute.
Bart Schenkeveld - 8
Despite the dynamic Roar attack, Schenkeveld proved once-again why he is one of the best centre-backs in the league, showing explosive acceleration and immense strength on the ball.
Ritchie de Laet - 7
Looked frustrated by the inability of his teammates to link-up in attack. Was very far off the form he showed against Victory in the Melbourne Derby.
Florin Berenguer - 6
Anonymous for large chunks of the game, was significantly upstaged by his compatriot and close friend Eric Bautheac. Went close with a pile-driver in the 82nd minute.
Kearyn Baccus - 6
Symptomatic of a City side with no identifiable game plan, Baccus had little positive influence on the contest.
Luke Brattan - 5
Seems lost in an attacking midfield position. Was substituted early by Joyce in favour of Caceres. Showed why he was dropped against Wellington in round four.
Nathaniel Atkinson - 6
At fault for Taggart’s first goal, showed his inexperience in various one-on-one contests.
Lachie Wales - 8
Showed glimpses of his skill and technical ability, however would have been far more influential if he had a recognizable striker to aim for. Put in a contender for nutmeg of the season when he rolled the ball through Papadopoulos’s legs on the turn, and went on to strike the post in the 47th minute.
Riley McGree - 6
Forced to play in the false-nine position, Mcgree was hardly visible for most the match, tallying just 41 touches for the entire match, the lowest of any City starting player. McGree was replaced by Vidosic in the 77th minute.
Anthony Caceres - 6
Came on for Brattan in the 67th minute but did not show the technical ability that all A-League fans know he possesses.
Dario Vidosic - 6
Replaced Mcgree in the 77th minute. Struggled to have an influence on a game that felt concluded well-before he was introduced into the match.
Ramy Najjarine - 6
Exhibited his skill and much-lauded technical ability, but had no tangible impact on the match.