The Western Sydney Wanderers have once more flattered to deceive on their return to the A-League Men, falling without a whimper to the Brisbane Roar 3-0.
Having not featured in the league since the 9th of January, their early sluggishness was prevalent, Tomas Mejias forced to smartly repel a Jay O’Shea header, before Scott Neville inexplicably headed wide from the resulting corner.
The Roar eventually profited from their strong start, a wonderful piece of interplay between Jack Hingert and Jay O’Shea leading to a cutback to Nikola Mileusnic, who coolly found the bottom corner with a tidy finish to put the hosts in front.
After Roar assumed the lead in Redcliffe, the first half petered out without much goalmouth action, leaving Carl Robinson and his charges plenty over which to ponder at the interval.
After Brisbane squandered a plethora of chances early in the second period, Nikola Mileusnic finally bagged his brace after tapping home from two yards out after stellar work from Corey Brown.
The result was sealed after a ball over the top from former Bury midfielder Jay O’Shea was horribly misjudged by Mark Natta, allowing Rahmat Akbari to get in behind and slot the ball past Tomas Mejias for his first-ever league goal, rubbing further salt into Western Sydney wounds.
The 3-0 defeat leaves more alarm bells sounding at CommBank Stadium, while the Roar were elevated from the foot of the table after a devastating performance in front of their home fans.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR ROBINSON?
Western Sydney’s lethargic and tepid start was emblematic of the rest of their season, with a three-week absence failing to reinvigorate the New South Wales side.
Aside from a blistering opening ten minutes in their last league outing, in which they raced a two-goal lead against defending champions Melbourne City, the away side’s inability to show even a shadow of their former gargantuan selves on the pitch has once again proved to be their downfall.
It is an issue that has plagued their season from the outset, with their earliest goal in an A-League Men’s outing excepting the clash against City coming in the 42nd-minute, with Berni Ibini’s strike against Newcastle coming in another game in which they failed to open a game with any real intent.
Despite the impressive careers of Israeli international Tomer Hemed, and three-time Three Lions midfielder Jack Rodwell within their squad, the Wanderers have not been able to utilise their stars to the full potential, to the detriment of the rest of the team.
Whichever manager is tasked with taking the Western Sydney Wanderers must make getting the best out of their star imports their newest objective; whether that manager is Robinson or not remains to be seen.
BRISBANE CONTINUE SUCCESS IN SUNSHINE STATE
In their fifth game in all competitions in Queensland this season, Brisbane’s win meant that only Adelaide United last week have penetrated the team in orange in their home state in 2021/22.
This is a stark contrast to their form away from home, where they are winless in five in matches taking place outside of their state, with trips to Victoria and New South Wales earlier in the season unable to bear fruits.
It provides promises for the Moreton Daily Stadium outfit, who are hoping to make Redcliffe a tough place to visit and re-establish their home stadium as a fortress, much like they possessed with Suncorp Stadium many years ago.
The home crowd was able to play its role in seeing their team claim three points on Saturday night, with their fervent and vehement supporter base able to aid their side to success.
While this has not been an utterly idyllic season for the three-time champions, the ability to remain almost invincible at home may well be the catalyst for an ascent up the table for Brisbane.
MILEUSNIC ON FIRE, BUT NO MATCH BALL
Nikola Mileusnic’s brace was able to propel the Roar to three points, but if the former Adelaide United frontman had been truly clinical, he may well have etched his name into Brisbane Roar record books.
Had he converted missed chances that he should have taken, including a one-on-one chance that was blazed over the crossbar, or another chance that hit the woodwork, he may well have equalled recently-retired A-League legend Besart Berisha, who netted four goals in a 7-1 win against Adelaide United in 2011.
Despite this, he remained more than a thorn in the side of an insipid Wanderers backline, making intelligent runs to create opportunities that he just could not maximise.
His 88th-minute withdrawal meant that Mileusnic was unable to take the match ball home, something the striker will likely be disappointed with given the myriad of chances that did not end up troubling Tomas Mejias.
Nonetheless, this was a night where Nikola Mileusnic announced himself as a real threat for the Roar, something the Wanderers now know all too well.
A-League Men, Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe
Brisbane Roar 3 (Nikola Mileusnic 27m, 65m, Rahmat Akbari 74m)
Western Sydney Wanderers 0