Roar resilience earns praise from Fowler
Roar coach Robbie Fowler hailed his players' resilience and belief as a last-gasp header from Irish striker Roy O'Donovan earned Brisbane a 1-1 draw against Perth Glory at HBF Park Sunday night
Just when it seemed Liverpool legend Fowler's A-League coaching debut would end in defeat, O'Donovan's stoppage-time header ensured the Roar were rewarded for their grit, endeavour and patience.
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Earlier, a 34th-minute goal from Glory star Chris Ikonomidis had given the hosts the lead as last season's Premier's Plate winners made the most of their early superiority.
But having upset Sydney FC 2-0 in the FFA Cup in August in Fowler's first competitive match in charge of the club, the revamped Roar never gave up hope.
O'Donovan's goal, which was beautifully crafted by classy Irish midfielder Jay O'Shea and Welsh substitute Aaron Amadi-Holloway, was initially disallowed when the assistant referee flagged for off-side.
But the VAR correctly overturned the decision, with O'Donovan clearly in an onside position as the ball was headed into his path by the powerful Amadi-Holloway.
Fowler was always confident the goal - O'Donovan's 40th in 81 A-League appearances - would be awarded once he saw a video replay.
"I'm not a massive fan of VAR but thankfully it worked for us, and it was proven that it was the right decision," the Brisbane boss said.
"It took us until just over 94 minutes to score a goal but it's a goal that we deserved.
"We could have had a little bit more as well but it just shows you what we have in team.
"We have brilliant attitude, brilliant character … that never-say-die attitude is what you want from football teams. We showed that in abundance."
Such was the revamp after their disastrous 2018-19 campaign, the Roar fielded a completely different 11 to the side that started in their final A-League match of last season.
Brisbane's starting side also included nine players making either their maiden A-League appearance or their first A-League appearance for the club.
Only two of the starters - midfielder Stefan Mauk and left wing-back Connor O'Toole - were at the Roar last season.
Perth had a chance to go ahead in just fourth minute through Ikonomidis, but he failed to hit the target.
Brisbane's only opportunity of the first half came after half an hour, when Jake McGing headed an O'Toole cross into the path of O'Donovan.
But the former Newcastle Jets striker's header flew over the crossbar.
The Glory were more clinical four minutes later, taking advantage of an error from former Perth defender Scott Neville, who was making his 200th A-League appearance, to take the lead.
A poor Neville clearance went straight to Fornaroli, who fed Diego Castro. The Spanish maestro then directed an inch-perfect pass into the path of Ikonomidis, whose first-time finish was too good for exposed Brisbane goalkeeper Max Crocombe, who started ahead of reigning Roar player of the year Jamie Young.
"It was a sloppy mistake for their goal but going forward, they're things we can work on," Fowler said.
"Even the good things we'll work on as well, and we'll be better for what we experienced here."
FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED
1) Brisbane Roar will be hard to beat this season. Robbie Fowler has recruited a host of seasoned players from the lower leagues of British football who are used to scrapping for points and survival on a weekly basis.
2) Jay O'Shea is class. The Irish midfielder was the Roar's best player against the Glory. His chipped ball into the penalty area that led to Brisbane's equaliser was sublime. O'Shea will be a standout this season.
3) No-one's place is safe. The dropping of goalkeeper Jamie Young, Brisbane's player of the season for the past two years, shows that revamp of the Roar squad could not be more thorough under Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler.
4) The giant Aaron Amadi-Holloway offers something different. Strong and powerful, his injection late into the game off the bench caused the Glory problems. When he's fully fit, he could be a destructive force.
5) Perth Glory will again be right in the mix this season. The class of Bruno Fornaroli, Chris Ikonomidis and Spanish maestro Diego Castro was particularly evident in the first half, and they will continue to trouble teams.