QUEENSLAND Roar overcome a lack of strikers and national team commitments to secure a valuable 1-1 draw with a late goal against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Missing three key players to the Australian Youth Olympics campaign and Tim Smits due to illness, the Roar Youth dug deep to grab a valuable point on the road.
Roar stay three points clear of Adelaide in second place on the NYL ladder, though the South Australians still have a game in hand over the Queenslanders.
In a match of great significance to the grand final hopes of both sides, it was a steady in uneventful start to the match.
Neither side risked pushing too many bodies forward for fear of being hit on the counter-attack.
Adelaide had experienced duo Angelo Costanzo and Paul Agostino in their ranks, while for the Roar Chris Grossman and David Dodd provided the most senior experience.
In warm conditions the teams stopped for a drinks break on 26 minutes and after the break, the Roar began to exert an influence on the match.
The Roar Youth began to push their opponents deeper into their own half and won a free-kick on the edge of the box on 31 minutes.
To that point both goalkeepers had been virtual spectators and that didn’t change with the set-piece as Adam Sarota hit his shot into the wall while Dodd pulled the follow-up shot wide of the mark.
Luke Brattan was playing his usual busy game in the middle of the park, while Matt Mundy and Willy Tumusiime kept things tight in the heart of the Roar defence.
Matt Acton was called into play just before the end of the half when some hesitant defending allowed Agostino to get onto a long ball in the box, but his effort to lob Acton was well blocked by the keeper.
United took the lead from the resultant corner when Michael Marrone headed the home side in front direct far side corner.
On as a half time substitute Isaka Cernak opened the second half in ominous fashion.
The midfielder burst forward from inside his own half and unleashed a shot from the edge of the box which went just wide of the goal.
He had another opportunity just two minutes later when Sarota drove a corner into the box, but his volley looped over the goal.
Adelaide could have extended the lead on 63 minutes when substitutes Francesco Monterosso and Joseph Costa combined, but the latter couldn’t hit the target with the goal at his mercy from Monterosso’s cutback.
Roar continued to attack the Reds at every opportunity, however without a recognised striker up front they struggled for regular penetration through the Adelaide defence.
Cernak was at the heart of Roar’s leveler when he burst into the box only to be brought down by United goalkeeper Cody Larkin.
Larkin was only shown a yellow card and despite some gamesmanship in trying to put Brattan off, the keeper could do nothing to stop the Roar No.10’s shot into the bottom corner.
Things could have been much different just three minutes later when from a corner the ball was rolling towards the goal line, but Matthew Thurtell was in place to clear the danger for Queensland.
The away side had to endure some real pressure in the closing minutes and Acton was forced into a fine save from Joseph Costa after the defence failed to clear the ball.
Costanzo headed over just before the final whistle but Roar walked away with a point to keep well in contention for a grand final place.
30. Cody LARKIN (gk), 2. Michael DOYLE, 3. Scott WEIDENBACH, 4. Michael MARRONE, 5. Shane TOBIAS, 7. Joel ALLWRIGHT, 9. Andrew CIARLA (8. Matthew MULLEN 59’), 10. Osama MALIK, 13. Paul AGOSTINO (15. Francesco MONTEROSSO 54’), 16. Michael DE BONO (11. Joseph COSTA 54’), 22. Angelo COSTANZO.
Yellow cards: 30. Cody LARKIN (87’)
Goals: 4. Michael MARRONE (45’)
1. Matt ACTON (gk), 2. Michael RYAN, 3. Matt MUNDY, 5. Brad McDONALD, 6. William TUMUSIIME, 7. Adam SAROTA, 8. Michael ANGUS (4. Jordan MASON 61’), 9. Jordan FARINA (14. Isaka CERNAK 46’), 10. Luke BRATTAN, 12. David DODD, 13. Chris GROSSMAN (11. Matthew THURTELL 61’).
Yellow cards: 12. David DODD (24’), 10. Luke BRATTAN (51’), 14. Isaka CERNAK (90+3’)
Goals: 10. Luke BRATTAN (88’)
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