The Roar looked like the home team in this match, dominating possession and taking the risks. But the 3-4-3 that Frank has been getting them to learn backfired in the first 5 minutes despite the Roar having the chances and run of play.
It was the A-League's best, Matt Simon who stretched the Roar defence from the left and gave Nik Mrdja a right foot drive opportunity from 6 yards. For the next forty minutes the game was mainly with the Roar, who lacked punch up front (Nichols missed hit a Tajh cross from the right, and lots of miss-hit crosses from Zullo), and CCM looking dangerous on the counter and regularly swamping the Roar defence until Tiatto was pushed back to left back.
Then McKay -player of the first half - tackled for the ball at the top of the final third in mid-field ran towards the half circle and passed right for an unmarked Tajh who ran to the line and crossed for an easy tap-in for Van Dijk on the far post. (43m) It was Van Dijk's first solid touch of the game. The defenders were keeping him busy or he was keeping the defenders busy, one of those.
To the second half and a free kick is played on into air in the box from the left and Van Dijk beats Danny V (not the keeper he was last year). 1-2 Roar (49m). Up to this point McMaster (Reddy is out injured) had looked OK. Then in a replay of Liam's keystone cops from the Lang Park first meeting of the teams (2-4 to CCM), McMaster went for a ball way outside his area, it bounces over his head and Matt Simon gets his foot in and then runs it into the goal. Quite a few times Simon got the better of Moore. 2-2. (55m)
Moore picks out Tajh who out runs the defenders and scores across the goal. 2-3 (60m)
Tiatto picks out Tajh from left to right - at first it looks like Van Dijk's third, but it is an own goal from Tajh's cross. 2-4. (72m)
Safe? No. Again out of nothing Moore misses a cross - air swing and Simon wins a one-on-one with McMaster. 3-4. (81m)
Oar and Seo come on and inject needed energy into a Roar again being over-run. Packer comes on to wind the clock down. The game goes one minute over the 3 minutes. But the Roar hand on.
The lesson. Get the ball to Van Dijk in the 6 yard box.
Breeze made a strange call in the first half - Bradley Porter goes down in his own box surrounded by Roar players. He sits on the ground and traps the ball between his legs. Indirect free kick? No, play on. And in the second half, Danny Tiatto is sithed down by an off the ground two footed challenge from Adrian Caceres. Send off? No just a yellow. (Caceres had miss kicked a shot from the 6 yard box in the first half).
Tomorrow Wellington and Sydney fight it out for the right to put pressure back on Roar and CCM for a top 4 spot. A draw would almost make the Roar safe.