'Take it and RUN': Three things we learned - Brisbane vs City
The City boys have defied the odds with an important 2-1 away win against Brisbane Roar despite having eight big-name players unavailable through injury, illness and national team selection.
We fell behind early on against the Roar as Henry Hore capped off a short corner routine with a clinical bottom-corner finish, but Florin Berenguer made sure that the deficit would only be a temporary one as he forced a Kai Trewin own-goal six minutes later.
Raphael Borges Rodrigues would then net his debut A-League goal, becoming our third youngest goalscorer ever, in the second half to secure an unlikely three-point result that looms pivotal given results elsewhere.
Here’s what we learned from the defiant win:
The title defence is very much alive
10 minutes in, this exact subheading would have pronounced the title defence clinically dead. Then, with our game cruising towards a draw whilst Western United had pulled ahead in their clash with Victory, it was going to be termed as being ‘on life support’. One goal each to Raphael and Victory’s Brendan Hammill later and our Premiership prospects look very much alive.
At present, we lead the WU by three points and +9 goal difference, but they still have two games in hand. The teams are virtually inseparable on a points-per-game basis, with City and United collecting points at a rate of 1.85 and 1.89 per match respectively.
To set a benchmark for how many points might be enough to see us win a second-consecutive Premiership, United is currently projected to finish on 49 points – we need 12 from our final six games to reach that tally.
It’s absolutely still advantage Western United, however, so City fans are in for a nervy finish to the 2021/22 season as the title race likely goes down to the wire.
Tonight showed us the squad hierarchy – and it’s not looking good for Pucciarelli
With a whopping EIGHT players unavailable, Patrick Kisnorbo was forced to field an XI that looked far closer to our NPL3 outfit than our star-studded first-choice lineup.
The City Head Coach showed his faith in our youngsters by playing Jordan Bos, Kerrin Stokes, Taras Gomulka, Stefan Colakovski and Raphael, but his omission of foreign recruits Tsubasa Endoh and, particularly, Manuel Pucciarelli was telling.
While Endoh eventually made an appearance off the bench later in the half, the fact that Kisnorbo turned to 16-year-old NPL striker Max Caputo as his third and final substitute ahead of Pucciarelli was a damning statement for City’s Italian import who has just 17 league minutes to his name – the least of any senior player and now even fewer than Caputo after his first appearance of the season lasted 19.
Whilst fans have mostly been willing to consider Pucciarelli a handy acquisition who would provide value come ACL group stage time, the fact that he is now quite literally last in the senior squad hierarchy means he mightn’t even appear there, which would go a long way towards making him our worst signing of all time.
What’s going on with Cola?
Stefan Colakovski is literally every City fan’s ‘boy’, so we’re hesitant to lay into him too much, but the young forward’s performances in Season 2021/22 have left plenty to be desired so far.
What made him so special in our double-winning campaign was his ability to make an impact off the bench, with his two goals and two assists equating to a rate of better than a goal involvement per 90 minutes played last season.
Following 94 minutes against the Roar, he’s now played a near-identical amount this campaign as he did in 2020/21 for a grand total of zero goal involvements thus far.
Colakovski continues to get into great goalscoring positions and has come close to teeing up teammates inside the six-year box on several occasions, but the 21-year-old has generally lacked composure and a clinical edge throughout this campaign and has been far surpassed by the more influential Marco Tilio – and soon, perhaps, Raphael following the 18-year-old’s debut goal.
We want to see ‘Cola’ succeed at City as much as anybody, however, and hope to see him restore his confidence with some vital goal contributions in the very near future.