City escape as legends warn Roar: ‘Don’t be afraid’

Brisbane Roar thought they’d found an 80th-minute equaliser against Melbourne City in the Isuzu UTE A-League season opener at AAMI Park – but the disallowed goal isn’t the only what if for Warren Moon’s side from their 2-1 defeat at AAMI Park, according to former Socceroos star Luke Wilkshire. 

MATCH REPORT: Roar denied late equaliser as City grab three points

Kai Trewin thought he’d drawn the Roar level at 2-2, but was contentiously ruled off-side by the finest of margins after his header off Jay O’Shea beat Tom Glover in City’s goal. Then Jesse Daley squeezed a shot just wide as the hosts wobbled in the final exchanges. 

City were fastest out of the blocks, and Wilkshire, speaking on the Paramount+ post-game coverage, wondered why Moon’s side were so cautious in an opening 45 minutes, which saw goals from Curtis Good and Connor Metcalfe hand the champions a 2-0 lead at the break. 

Speaking after the game, the Roar boss bemoaned scheduling that forced his side to fly in on the day of the game – which might explain an approach that left Wilkshire, and fellow former Socceroo Mark Milligan wondering why they started so timidly despite the stature of their opponent.

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“We know they can play, we saw glimpses (in the first-half),” the Wollongong Wolves coach said. 

“Disappointed why Warren Moon didn’t set them up that way in the first place: have faith, belief.

“Second half, they came out to play and (we) saw what they’re capable of.”

The former Sydney FC defender added: “I think he should be thinking about the first half, it was like two different teams …

“(In the end) they should’ve got a point.” 

Speaking alongside Wilkshire, former Socceroos skipper Mark Milligan praised the Queensland outfit’s second-half change in dynamic, inspired by the introduction of former Sydney FC attacker Luke Ivanovic, but said it showed they “didn’t have to be afraid” like in the first stanza, where “criminal” defending in the box let them down.

Melbourne City players celebrate a goal.

“O’Shea, Akbari – they have players who can (attack),” Milligan said. 

“At 2-0 down it is almost too late. It is easy at half-time to say (take the shackles off).”

21-year-old Ivanovic scored the goal that breathed new life into the contest, and made a case for inclusion in Moon’s XI going forward. 

“(Ivanovic) is good, well balanced on the ball – we know he has been under a bit of an injury cloud, they’ll be looking forward to getting him in from the beginning of the match.” 

Wilkshire added: “He definitely did (change the game). 

“He is direct, brave, wants the ball, and causes problems for defenders.

“You can see he’s got the confidence, something to prove, he’s been a fringe player – (he wants to break through).”