Brisbane Roar has started the new year in triumphant fashion defeating Melbourne Victory 3-1 in front of an electric AAMI Park crowd.
Goals to Scott McDonald, Macaulay Gillesphey and Dylan Wenzel-Halls sealed Brisbane’s first win of the new season, with the Roar putting a week of rued opportunities behind them.
While it was the majority in navy blue who provided all the noise, it was the small orange contingent who had the final laugh as Brisbane stormed home in an impressive second half display.
A strong rendition of Stand By Me, tributes to Victory fan Ben Diaz and chants AAMI Park had long been deprived of filled the stadium and the hearts of everyone watching – signifying football’s return to Melbourne.
It had all the makings of a thriller and like most classics, this one started in unexpected fashion.
Unfazed by the partisan crowd, it was the Roar who drew first blood with Scott McDonald finding himself in the right place at the right time to guide a stray Dylan Wenzel-Halls attempt home from close range in the 17th minute
Delayed celebrations ensured as the goal was initially flagged offside but a VAR check saw Victory defender Nick Ansell had played the 37-year-old onside.
But the crowd barely had to wait to regain its voice as Callum McManaman announced his arrival with a goal worthy of a thousand replays.
Winning the ball off Corey Brown on the right wing, the former Wigan winger cut on to his left foot before curling the ball into the top left corner from just outside the area – bringing the house down with him.
Buoyed by this piece of brilliance the Victory kicked into gear and nearly found themselves in front in the 33rd minute when a Nick Ansell header trickled across the goal line before being cleared away.
French forward Rudy Gestede received an exciting ovation as he replaced Ben Folami in the 56th minute, but such exuberance was short-lived as the visitors flipped the script once again
It was centre-back Macaulay Gillesphey who restored the Brisbane’s lead – rising to head home a Corey Brown corner in the 58th minute with the goal coming moments after an audacious James O’Shea attempt which would have rivalled McManaman’s effort.
Brisbane should have then doubled its lead four minutes later when Dylan Wenzel-Halls fired a bullet past the post after swiftly weaving past the Victory defence and into the box.
The 23-year-old would, however, get a chance to redeem himself and he did not disappoint.
Picking up a long Tom Aldred clearance on the halfway line, Wenzel-Halls surged forward and made no mistake burying his chance a second time around to seal the win for the Roar.
These two sides will only need to wait a week before they meet again, with Brisbane hosting the Victory at Dolphin Stadium next Sunday.
Until then, it is the Roar who lead at the break.
MELBOURNE VICTORY 1 (McManaman 25′)
BRISBANE ROAR 3 ( McDonald 17′, Gillesphey 58′, Wenzel-Halls 62′ )
20. Max Crocombe, 2. Storm Roux, 3. Adama Traore, 4. Nick Ansell, 6. Leigh Broxham, 7. Callum McManaman, 8. Jacob Butterfield (14. Jay Barnett 63′), 11. Gbenga Folami (9. Rudy Gestede 57′ ), 15. Aaron Anderson, 22. Jake Brimmer, 23. Marco Rojas (17. Elvis Kamsoba)
1.Matt Acton, , 13. Birkan Kirdar, 19. Dylan Ryan, 32. So Nishikawa
21. Jamie Young, 3. Corey Brown, 5. Tom Aldred, 6. Macaulay Gillesphey, 10. Riku Danzak (7. Jai Ingham) 11. Joey Champness(15. Jesse Daley 54′,) , 19. Jack Hingert, 23. Dylan Wenzel-Halls (34. Alexander Parsons 94′), 25. Rahmat Akbari, 26. James O’Shea, 77. Scott McDonald
1.Macklin Freke, 16. Josh Brindell-South, 27. Kai Trewin,