No Point Settling For A Point

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Roar's Ivan Franjic returns for 'Wanderland' clash. Image courtesy of

Seven points clear of Western Sydney, Brisbane Roar will settle for nothing less than a win against the second-placed Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium, in what is a block-buster start to Round 18. Victory would give Brisbane a 10-point buffer on top of the ladder, with six of its remaining nine fixture games at home. It would also virtually end the battle for the Premier’s Plate with two months’ of competition to go.

Coming off a last-gasp 2-1 victory over third-placed Central Coast, Roar has no intention of playing for draw in order to protect its place atop the table. Captain Matt Smith has promised a no-holds-barred approach from an attack-focused competition favourite keen on securing its 13th win of the season. Mike Mulvey’s men are brimming with confidence after successive victories at home, where they toppled third-placed Central Coast and form-side Wellington despite conceding the opening goal. This season, Roar has won six of its nine road games and is unbeaten in its past five matches away from Suncorp Stadium. Included in that bag of 13 points are a 3-0 win over Victory in Melbourne and a 5-2 thumping of Sydney FC in the ‘Harbour City’.

Roar beat Western Sydney 3-1 at home in November. It was Brisbane’s first and only success against the ‘Westies’ from five encounters. But the competition-leader and its loyal Orange Army still feel the pain of a 2-0 semi-final loss to the Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium 10-months ago. This campaign, Tony Popovic’s troops have lost just one game on their home ground; 3-1 to Wellington on New Year’s Day. Comparing the form lines, Perth held Brisbane goalless draw in the west recently, while the Wanderers defeated Glory 3-1 at 'Wanderland' nine days later.

Roar will again be without Socceroo Matt McKay, who is battling a painful ankle injury. That opened the door open for new signing Steven Lustica to immediately don the orange again. The 22-year-old has re-joined the Roar from Adelaide, after a stint with Croatian club Hajduk Split. Meantime, another Socceroo Ivan Franjic will play his first game in a month after overcoming a lingering stomach strain. The Wanderers major issue centres on the players’ futures. Boardroom decisions need to be kept isolated from the current on-field campaign. Shinji Ono has already announced his intention to leave, while key men Youssouf Hersi, Aaron Mooy and Matthew Spiranovic are all tipped to move. Club captain Michael Beauchamp is out of contract and not a guaranteed starter next season. Adam D'Apuzzo and Jerome Polenz have been promoted.

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