Western Sydney Wanderers maintained their unbeaten record against Brisbane Roar in the A-League with a 2-1 victory at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
Mitch Nicholls put Brisbane ahead in the first half, but goals from Mark Bridge and Youssouf Hersi in the second period gave the Wanderers the three points.
The opening minutes were closely contested, with few chances of note. Brisbane looked far more comfortable than they have in recent weeks by playing with two deep midfielders in Massimo Murdocca and Luke Brattan.
The Wanderers defence gifted the first opportunity to the Roar after 16 minutes, as an errant pass from the back went straight to Ben Halloran, who found Thomas Broich on the edge of the box.
The German’s dipping shot went just over the crossbar.
The Roar took a well-deserved lead on 21 minutes. The ball ended up at the feet of Brattan in the Wanderers box after a sweeping Brisbane move and, although he couldn’t control it, it deflected into the path of a lurking Mitch Nicholls, who found the right angle to beat goalkeeper Ante Covic and put the home side 1-0 up.
If anything, Western Sydney were pushed further back after the Brisbane goal, and the next chance fell to Halloran, who sent a low shot just wide of the left post.
A rapid Roar counterattack flowed through Broich and Nicholls before Besart Berisha’s shot was tipped wide by Covic after 38 minutes.
Western Sydney went into the break a goal down without having created any quality chances after a flat opening 45 minutes.
But they came out in the second period showing far more attacking intent.
Shinji Ono sent in a speculative shot from distance shortly after the break, which was easily smothered by Roar goalkeeper Michael Theo.
Western Sydney continued to press forward and created chances.
First, Labinot Haliti grazed the crossbar after getting on the end of a probing ball over the top from Michael Beauchamp.
Then Mark Bridge collected a Youssouf Hersi cutback and fired a shot just wide of the post.
Bridge was less forgiving minutes later after being set up by Jerome Polenz on the edge of the area, smacking a shot past the poorly-positioned Theo to make the score 1-1.
Western Sydney then took the lead through Hersi. The Dutchman was allowed to race through to collect a Dino Kresinger nod-on as the Brisbane defenders tracked an off-side Ono, the referee and his assistant ruling that the Japanese playmaker had not played at the ball.
Hersi, with plenty of time and space, beat Theo from close range to make it 2-1.
The Brisbane players vehemently protested the decision to allow play to continue, with Berisha earning himself his fifth yellow card of the campaign, meaning he wi’ll miss the Roar’s next game.
Though Brisbane pressed hard for an equaliser in the dying minutes, the best chance late on fell to Ono, who dallied too long on the ball and was unable to increase Western Sydney’s lead.
An afternoon that started with great promise for the Roar ended with the reigning champions in even bigger trouble, after three straight losses.