Wellington Phoenix had its five-game unbeaten streak snapped thanks to Luke Brattan's late 30-yard goal. Brisbane Roar, which had to come from behind at home, took all three points on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium. Teenager Devante Clut scored a brilliant goal early in the second half to draw the Roar even after Jeremy Brockie and Stein Huysegems combined to give Wellington a first half lead.
Already the league's top team, Brisbane showed its depth as Besart Berisha and Ivan Franjic were missing due to suspension and injury, respectively. The Roar also got James Donachie back from Australia's U22 team while the Phoenix welcomed back Reece Caira. With Donachie, Clut, Brandon Borrello, Dimitri Petratos and Jai Ingham playing, the Roar displayed a nice pipeline that will help replace the likes of Berisha.
To be fair to the Phoenix, they could have had a two-goal lead against the ladder's highest rung if Vince Lia had not hit the post in the 11th minute. Even still, the visitors held a lead into the second half after Huysegems' league-leading eighth goal of the season. Thomas Broich rattled the crossbar in first half injury-time so it wasn't until Clut's fantastic strike that the Roar got back onto level terms. Finally, it took Brattan's long-distance goal to prevent Wellington from earning a point in its sixth straight match.
The win restores a six point gap between the Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers with both teams having played sixteen games. It also buoys Brisbane after the news broke during the week that Berisha will be moving to Melbourne Victory in July. With the Albanian out of the line-up and three points garnered anyway, Roar fans will be sleeping more easily knowing there is a future beyond their key striker, particularly if players like Broich remain.
Brisbane are off until Sunday February 2 when they host Central Coast Mariners at Suncorp Stadium. Wellington have a slightly quicker turnaround with a game in New Zealand against Adelaide United on Saturday February 1. However, that match will take place at Eden Park in Auckland rather than at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
WPX Huysegems (Brockie) 36'
BRI Clut (Henrique) 51'
BRI Brattan 87'
Brisbane Roar: Theo; Stefanutto, Smith, North, Hingert (Donachie 65'); Ferriera (Borrello 86'), Brattan, Clut (Ingham 72'); Broich, Henrique, Petratos
Unused substitutes: Acton, Brown
Wellington Phoenix: Moss; Muscat, Durante, Sigmund, Boxall; Hicks (Caira 79'), Riera, Lia; Brockie (Krishna 68'), Huysegems, Boyd (Bertos 46')
Unused substitutes: Italiano, Rufer