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ALM Match Report: Brisbane Roar 2-2 Western United

Matthew Grimaldi Western United

Western United picked up a point on the road but was crushed by a late goal again in a 2-2 draw with Brisbane Roar in the Isuzu UTE A-League Men on Friday night.

Nikita Rukavytsya put United ahead with his first Western United goal early on before Noah Botic reinstated United’s advantage with 10 minutes remaining after Thomas Waddingham had equalised for Brisbane.

United just couldn’t hold on in the end, though, as Jonas Markovski struck in injury time to ensure the points were shared.

Western United Team News

John Aloisi made five changes to his starting XI, some enforced and some not after a quick turnaround from Tuesday night’s taxing encounter with Melbourne Victory.

Matt Sutton made his Western United debut in goal with Josh Risdon returning from suspension in the back four. Sebastian Pasquali was reinstalled in midfield, Matthew Grimaldi started from the left and Rukavytsya came in up front.

First Half

Both sides had forays forward in the opening exchanges, but it was Western United that landed the first punch of the contest just six minutes in.

After Grimaldi and Risdon had linked up well on the left wing, the latter swung a delightful cross in towards the back post. Lachie Wales challenged for the header and the ball dropped perfectly for Rukavytsya to stab into the net with his right foot.

That was really the only significant goalmouth action at either end of the pitch in the opening 25 minutes as the hot weather and poor pitch conditions made it a challenge for both teams to build phases of possession.

United did look plenty comfortable on the ball, though, and began to navigate its way through Brisbane’s press with greater ease as the half wore on.

Risdon and Grimaldi continued to link up nicely as Grimaldi consistently took up central positions to get on the ball in between the lines.

Sutton made a good save at the feet of Thomas Waddingham and the young striker was at the heart of most of Brisbane’s entries into United’s box.

One instance saw him miss his kick from a low cross and another brought an expertly-timed intervention from Kane Vidmar to stop Waddingham from being played in one-on-one.

Second Half

Western United continued to seek comfort in possession at the beginning of the second half but was left frustrated as Brisbane’s equaliser came from out of nothing.

A fortunate ricochet gave Brisbane an opening down the left-hand side and forced Sutton to make two good saves in succession to keep headers out of the roof of his net.

The Western United keeper couldn’t repeat the feat a third time, though, as Florin Berenguer’s corner was headed in by Waddingham from the top of the six-yard box.

The game opened up from there as United looked to be more expansive with the ball and Brisbane were spurred on themselves with the equaliser giving them a lift.

Former Western United man Ayom Majok came off the bench for Brisbane and very nearly put the hosts in front, but his cross-cum-shot split the gap between the far post and Marco Rojas who was sliding in to try to make contact.

Rhys Bozinovski was brought on for United and immediately helped United settle on the ball and get moving forward again as the visitors got back on top.

A big part of that was also Grimaldi’s eye-catching display, with the youngster rifling a strike from long-range that stung Macklin Freke’s palms after a neat little run through the centre of the pitch.

The 20-year-old brought an even better save out of Freke shortly after, but this time there was reward for effort for Western United.

From the subsequent corner, Botic linked up with fellow substitute Riku Danzaki to make a telling impact with a commanding leap and powerful header into the net from the Japanese’s delivery.

Cruelly, just three days after an agonising defeat to Melbourne Victory, there was more heartbreak for Western United as Jonas Markovski scored in the first minute of stoppage time to square the ledger again.

There was no winner this time around despite some late Brisbane pressure as Western United took a point back home.