A last minute strike from Michael Zullo has handed Sydney FC a 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar in their pre-season clash at CBUS Super Stadium on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Playing behind closed doors coaches John Aloisi and Graham Arnold started a number of the new faces in their respective squads but it was a couple of familiar names that got on the scoreboard in the first half.
After withstanding some initial pressure from the home side striker Matt Simon opened the scoring in spectacular fashion, picking out the top right corner from the edge of the box on 12 minutes.
Sydney FC went close to doubling their lead minutes later when Rhyan Grant tried his luck from a similar position, the ball cannoning into the crossbar and going out of play.
Both sides traded chances as the half wore on but Brisbane gradually began to assert some dominance in midfield and netted a deserved equaliser with the last kick of the opening stanza.
Thomas Broich intercepted the ball as Sydney FC attempted to pass their way out of defence before crossing low to the goal-mouth where Jamie Maclaren was able to scrap the ball over the line.
Clear-cut chances were harder to come by after the break, with pre-season fitness levels and a number of substitutions effecting the continuity of the contest.
The match looked set to finish all square until Sky Blues defender Michael Zullo was able to make the most of a scramble in the box, firing into the back of the net with just a minute to play to give his side a 2-1 win.
Following a tumultuous week off the field Brisbane Roar coach John Aloisi was satisfied with the hit-out, predicting his side would only get stronger as the pre-season progressed.
“We’re still working on our structures and it’s a bit different to the way we played last season,” said Aloisi.
“You want to win these games but the important thing is improving and there was more improvement again this afternoon.
“Sydney made it hard for us to play and then they created a few chances on our mistakes, and scored a goal.
“Towards the end of the first half, we started to find where we could play. Second half was good, we created a lot of changes again.
“We managed to get into really good areas in the second half, we just need to punish them.
“This is the time to test combinations and see how they work.”
Aloisi has been active in the transfer market during the off-season, making a number of signings especially in the attacking third but flagged he expects to add a couple more players to his squad before the 2016/17 season gets under way.
“We’ll have a couple more players come in and we’re going to improve even more,” said Aloisi.
“It was disappointing to concede right at the end. I thought we could have had a foul in the lead up but that’s part of it when a bit of fatigue starts to set in.
“It’s been heavy over the last couple of days. This phase is where we will train our hardest and we knew we weren’t going to be at our best.
“It shows that if we can play under that fatigue as well as we did, particularly in the second half, once we are fresh we’ll be even better.”
The Roar next play against a Football Brisbane Flight Centre Premier League Select squad at Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre (QSAC) on Saturday, 27 August (7:30pm KO) before a pre-season clash against Central Coast Mariners at Corporate Travel Management Stadium on Saturday, 10 September (3pm KO).
Brisbane Roar FC 1 (Maclaren 45’)
Sydney FC 2 (Simon 12’, Zullo 90’)
Images courtesy: Pat Kearney