Brisbane Roar have ended their campaign on a high, defeating Melbourne Victory 1-0 at AAMI Park in each side’s final game of 2022-23.
It’s very likely the end of Roar interim manager Nick Green’s time in the top job. With three points tonight, Brisbane will finish seventh or eighth on the A-League ladder.
For Victory and manager Tony Popovic it was another sour night at AAMI Park, the ground which has seen a lot of forgettable events this season. The former Socceroos centre-half is contracted for one more year at the club.
It was a slow start to the affair with nothing really on the line for either side other than pride.
Victory’s crowds have been uninspiring for myriad reasons this campaign and tonight was no exception, with the stands sparsely populated at AAMI Park for the final game of the season.
From a set-piece Tom Aldred had Brisbane’s first real look at goal, but the home side managed to scramble after Paul Izzo pulled off a good reflex save.
Nishan Velupillay should have done better when he received Bruno Fornaroli’s cushion pass inside the Roar penalty area and found himself in plenty of space, but could only pick out Macklin Freke.
After half an hour the sides were evenly matched with neither so far able to break the stalemate.
Few clear-cut chances came as the first half ticked down, as some Victory pot shots failed to trouble Freke in the Roar goal.
After the restart it was Roar who took the lead through Jordan Courtney-Perkins. From a rapid counter-attack Henry Hore did well to attract the attention of Victory defenders, creating space and laying off to Courtney-Perkins who beat Izzo with a thunderous left-footed drive.
Tony Popovic had seen enough, and went to his bench, calling on Chris Ikonomidis and Rai Marchan to inject some energy into the home side’s attack.
Discontent was building around AAMI Park as a few boos could be heard coming from the stands. It was looking like a disastrous 2022-23 season would end on a low note for Victory.
It would end 1-0, Roar picking up the three points to give their fans something to cheer about as the home fans left the ground dejected with a few more boos ringing out for good measure.
What will each side look like when season 2023-24 comes around?
Both Victory and Roar have underachieved this campaign, with Tony Popovic’s side especially so after a second-place regular season finish, and semi-final exit in 2021-22. Hopes were high in the Sunshine State, too, after the impressive signing of forward Charlie Austin.
The Victory front office don’t do “rebuilds,” as the saying goes, but even Blind Freddy can see that if not rebuilt, this squad needs to at least be rejuvenated.
As for Brisbane, Nick Green won’t be in the dugout when Round 1 of next season rolls around. So, who will be? Names like Marco Kurz and Ross Aloisi have come up in speculation. Their squad is another that must be improved as the Roar head back into the city to play all their home games at the vastly superior Suncorp Stadium in 2023-24.
Veteran Fornaroli a success in Melbourne after leaving Glory, but what does it mean for his City legacy?
As the curtain draws on a miserable season for Victory, one positive has been Bruno Fornaroli’s performances. Having initially made his name at Melbourne City, the Uruguayan-born striker crossed the Melbourne divide after leaving Perth Glory under acrimonious circumstances and has impressed with seven goals in 21 appearances, good enough to finish as the club’s highest goal-scorer (the next-highest was Velupillay with three).
It was always a curious move with risk on both sides, and it seems Fornaroli is not worried about the effect it will have on his legacy at Melbourne City, where he won the 2016 FFA Cup, also taking out the Mark Viduka Medal for best on field in the Cup final.
When Victory suffer, the whole league suffers
Usually the side leading the way in the attendance figures, a certain unsavoury incident in the Melbourne Derby – coupled with the unexpectedly poor on-field state of affairs – has left Victory’s average crowd hovering around 10,000, only slightly better than 2021-22 when the effects of COVID-19 were still ravaging society.
In the context of the last non-COVID-affected campaign in 2019-20, it’s a drop of around 7000 fans per game. Whatever happens over the off-season, while the APL are doing everything they can to sink the A-League we do not need the league’s biggest club also self-sabotaging at the same time. Hopefully, things improve at AAMI Park in 2023-24.
Melbourne Victory 0
Brisbane Roar 1 (Courtney-Perkins 54′)