Western return to winning ways to spoil Roar boss’ coaching bow

Kahli Johnson scored the winning goal as Western United edged Brisbane Roar in a 1-0 win on the road

Western United spoiled Alex Smith’s first game in charge of Brisbane Roar after emerging 1-0 victors in the Liberty A-League on Sunday.

Brisbane appointed Smith to his first A-Leagues head coaching role earlier in the week following the departure of Garrath McPherson but his bow did not go according to plan at Ballymore Stadium.

Kahli Johnson’s 10th-minute goal was all that separated the two sides as 2022-23 Grand Finalists Western returned to winning ways after two games without a victory, while the Roar’s winless run extended to three matches.

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Brisbane applied the early pressure with Western on the back foot. However, it was the visitors who struck first.

Hannah Keane went close to breaking the deadlock and she was thwarted by countrywoman Jordan Silkowitz in the ninth minute. Western’s high press dispossessed the Roar in the penalty are as Chloe Logarzo teed up the 2022-23 Golden Boot winner, though Silkowitz’s brilliant save kept the score level.

That was only for a minute as Western took the lead from the next corner. A dangerous set-piece from Logarzo wreaked havoc across the six-yard box and Kahli Johnson was on hand to bundle the ball over the line amid confusion however the goal did stand.

Even though Western controlled large parts of proceedings, Brisbane did have chances to restore parity before the break.

Kijah Stephenson found herself in acres of space but she couldn’t apply the finish as her shot went wide in the 21st minute.

The Roar went close to equalising five minutes later too. Mia Corbin got in behind Western’s defence and slid a ball across the six-yard box, however a desperate Julia Sardo somehow blocked Sharn Freier’s shot.

There were another two opportunities for the Roar before the break as Hillary Beall denied Corbin, while Alana Cerne cleared a ball off the line.

Tameka Yallop wasn’t deemed fit enough to start for Brisbane as she was named among the substitutes. But she was introduced approaching the hour-mark with the Roar searching for a goal.

Western substitute Keiwa Hieda almost made an instant impact when she poked her shot just wide of the post in the 60th minute.

The very next minute, Hieda came close again as her volley flashed just wide of the post but the focus was on Brisbane’s Chelsea Blissett, who was left in tears after appearing to injure her knee in the lead-up to that chance.

Blissett had been helped off the pitch in a concerning scene for the player and the Roar.

Western came within a whisker of doubling their lead with five minutes remaining. However, Silkowitz produced a stunning save to deny Johnson.

The Talking Point

All eyes were on former Wellington Phoenix Isuzu UTE A-League midfielder Alex Smith after he replaced Garrath McPherson during the week.

He detailed his hectic schedule prior to this A-Leagues coaching bow, having previously worked at the Roar and Melbourne City as an assistant coach, along with managing NPL Queensland side Peninsula Power.

“I’m up at four o’clock in the morning. I don’t leave here until 3-4 in the afternoon,” he said.

But Smith was unable to snap Brisbane’s winless streak, with the Roar without a victory since opening the season with back-to-back wins.

The Star

She was on the losing side but Jordan Silkowitz reinforced her position as one of the best goalkeepers in the competition.

The 23-year-old – on loan from National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) outfit Kansas City Current – has been a shining light this season with her unbelievable saves.

She was at it again on Sunday afternoon, producing two stellar saves to deny Hannah Keane and Kahli Johnson.

What it means

With Western’s second win of the season, Mark Torcaso’s side move up to seventh and only adrift of the top four on goal difference.

Next up for Western is a home game against Western Sydney Wanderers on November 25.

Brisbane are also on seventh points through five rounds as they look ahead to the visit of winless Adelaide United on November 26.