W-League mid-season report card: Brisbane Roar

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We’ve just made it past the halfway mark for the 2019/20 W-League season, so it is time to weigh up each team’s performance so far.

So how have Brisbane Roar faired this season and can their current winning streak be maintained for the next eight rounds?

Semester Summary:

It’s been a mixed performance for the Roar so far this season. Revamped and renewed, new head coach Jake Goodship was ready to build on Brisbane’s success last season.

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After consecutive second-place finishes and barely losing their semi-final against eventual champions Sydney FC, there was little doubt that Brisbane Roar would have been one of the top teams fighting for this year’s silverware.

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The lofty expectations from their second-place finish last season have not been met, and they are currently sitting fifth on the table.

Currently in equal fourth on the goal-scoring charts with eight goals in four matches, they have shown some improvement from this time last year. Whether the end result will echo last year, that question is still up in the air for the moment.

While there might be a new face in charge, much of last year’s squad remains the same with Leah Davidson, Indiah-Paige Riley, Hollie Palmer, Georgina Worth, Allira Toby and Natalie Tathem all returning to wear the orange jersey.

NWSL Duo Rylee Baisden and Claire Farrington joined the squad at the start of this year as a way to bolster Brisbane’s attacking and defensive forces. Yet their boost has not seen the Roar reaching the heights they wanted.

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Areas of excellence:

Brisbane have no issues running the ball forward and creating chances. Scoring eight goals in four appearances, the Roar are one of the league’s best team’s when it comes to creating chances.

So far this season, they have created the second-most shots of any teams with 87. Pair that with their excellent passing rate and accuracy, is currently sitting at second best with a pass rate of 81 per cent for the season, and Brisbane have the ingredients of a winning recipe.

Areas in need of improvement:

It’s easy and very tempting to point out Brisbane’s drop from this time last year and start pointing fingers at who is to blame. Yet, the Roar’s issues are not that dire.

If Brisbane starts being more consistent, turning their fierce chances at goal into real efforts, they might be able to turn their season around.

It seems the workings of that have already started to fall into place, winning their last two games Canberra United and Adelaide United, but they will need to make the progress last over the course of their next eight games.

They’ve started the season well and despite losing their first two games, they have only conceded three goals. By winning their next two games, Brisbane has the chance to climb the table back to second.

Top student:

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The contributions of Carson Pickett and Clare Polkinghorne have been crucial for the Roar so far. The US import has continuously grown and her attacking centre has been a vital part of the Roar’s latest success, while skipper Polkinghorne is a central part of Brisbane’s defence.

Yet my top pick for teacher’s pet is Mackenzie Arnold. Arnold has solid games and is heavily involved. Continually making crucial saves in every game.

The most memorable moment of the season so far was against Canberra United in final moments of the game when Leena Khamis thought she had rescued a late point for her team, only for Arnold to powerfully dive to her left to turn away a goal-bound header.

Class clown:

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It’s hard to find any person at Brisbane to pick as a class clown with the quality and class of the players on the squad.

Celeste Boureille has not been the most miserly defender on Brisbane’s backline. Yet most accusations of Boureille’s poor performance seem to stem from comparisons with fellow American Carson Pickett.

Allira Toby would be my first pick for class clown. An idle attacker, Toby is yet to score this season and with only three shots on target in four games, she has yet to scream excellence.

Grade: B 

Outlook:

It is hard not to look at last season as the benchmark for Brisbane’s current season. Even though the Roar are under a new coach, the strength remains in Brisbane and the talent on offer is still a showstopper.

Despite some start of the season hiccups, there are many positives to take out of Brisbane’s current resurgence over the past two games.

Even at their worst, they have yet to fall back into the dark days of the 2016/17 season and that clearly shows determination and resilience from all the squad.

Their combination play will let them move the ball up the park quickly and effectively, but their biggest change moving forward is to turn their playing experience into key moments.

Feature Image Credit: Brisbane Roar

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Suzanna Telai
Football enthusiast and student journalist, covering Western United for the 2019/20 A-League season