A Josh Brillante wonder-goal was enough for Melbourne City to celebrate Scott Jamieson’s 250th A-League match with a win against Brisbane Roar.
Brillante’s 55th minute goal brought an uninspiring contest to life – delivering the three points and consolidating the side’s place inside top two after Round 21.
The win sees City jump three points clear of Perth Glory in second, while Brisbane misses the opportunity to jump to fifth – recording just its second loss in ten games.
The contest was very much an arm-wrestle with City pulling away early in the second half, while the Roar were forced to wait 71 minutes before Scott McDonald struck the side’s first attempt on target.
Despite Harrison Delbridge being available for selection, Erick Mombaerts chose to persist with Rostyn Griffiths at centre back in the starting line-up in favour of Delbridge – who was relegated to the bench.
Fowler, meanwhile, left his side unchanged from last week’s draw with Perth Glory, setting up with two blocks of four, leaving Scott McDonald and James O’Shea up front.
It took until the 27th minute for the first attempt to be registered, with Adrian Luna’s first-time strike of the loose ball spilled from a corner only finding the stationary Jamie Young in the centre of the goal.
With this arm wrestle in need of a spark, Athletic Bilbao legend Markel Susaeta excited the home fans with a swift set-piece routine involving a one-two with Craig Noone to set up Rostyn Griffths.
Standing on the penalty spot, Griffiths barely had to move to meet the ball, though failed to generate enough power to beat Young who denied the 31-year-old with an outstretched hand – before Jamie Maclaren sent the ball into row-Z on the follow up.
City would begin to break down this stubborn Brisbane defence as the half wore on.
Luna tested Young a second time, this time from a set-piece – after Scott McDonald fouled City captain Scott Jamieson 25 yards out – forcing the Brisbane goalkeeper into a difficult save low to his left in the 43rd minute.
The subsequent corner saw Noone find a rising Curtis Good who headed the ball towards Maclaren, forcing the Socceroo into an awkward looping headed attempt which brushed the crossbar and the roof of the net.
It was only a matter of time before City would break the deadlock and it was well worth the wait as Brillante fired home a rocket from just outside the box – volleying Macaulay Gillesphey’s header from a Noone set piece through a congested penalty area into the post and past a diving Young.
Brisbane’s night was exacerbated when substitute Aaron Amadi-Holloway went down minutes after coming on, forcing him off the field with Mirza Muratovic taking his place in the 69th minute.
City goalkeeper Tom Glover had to wait until the 71st minute to make his first save – making a routine catch to deny McDonald before James O’Shea’s struck the side-net from a set-piece just outside the area.
Delbridge did make a late cameo, replacing Maclaren up front in a surprising move from Mombaerts with the crowd rising in anticipation whenever he approached the ball.
City’s return to the winners list is timely, ahead of a trip to Perth next week in a finals dress rehearsal while Brisbane hosts the in-form Western Sydney Wanderers with sixth spot up for grabs.
MELBOURNE CITY 1 (Brillante 55′)
BRISBANE ROAR 0
Thomas Glover (GK), Scott Jamieson (C), Josh Brillante, Rostyn Griffiths, Jamie Maclaren (Harrison Delbridge 90′), Florin Berenguer (Connor Metcalfe 73’), Craig Noone, Nathaniel Atkinson, Markel Susaeta (Lachlan Wales 90′), Adrian Luna, Curtis Good
Dean Bouzanis, Scott Galloway, Denis Genreau, Moudi Najjar,
Jamie Young (GK), Scott Neville, Corey Brown, Thomas Aldred, Macaulay Gillesphey, Jacob Pepper (Aaron Amadi-Holloway 64’ (Mirza Muratovic 69’) ), Brad Inman, Aiden O’Neil, Jack Hingert (Dylan Wenzel-Halls 85’), James O’Shea, Scott McDonald
Max Crocombe, Daniel Bowles, Rahmat Akbari,