Premiers Roar head into the semis as hot favourites | TWG
The usually staunch Brisbane Roar started the 2012/13 season surprisingly shaky with two tough losses in Round 3 and Round 5 to Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers respectively.
The experienced Roar squad and new coach, Belinda Wilson were under pressure to turn things around before it was too late for last season’s grand finalists to again be finals contenders. Roar’s woes were manifested by the loss of Matildas’ star Tameka Butt for the first part of the season and then her eventual return on reduced minutes causing headaches for the Brisbane Roar midfield who have come to depend on her expertise.
Round 6 saw the turnaround for Brisbane Roar when their patented rallying spirit found them a 95th minute winner via Ashley Spina against early season heavyweights Melbourne Victory. Since this win, Roar have not looked back and did not concede a single loss for the remainder of the regular season. Spectators witnessed the return of Tameka Butt and Roar’s unique psychological toughness that has taken them to all four W-League grand finals and enables them to traumatise opposing team’s fans every season (looking at you Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC).
Brisbane Roar’s extensive experience in high-pressure games is a major advantage against younger teams and when the consistent and experienced Roar squad are well organised they are almost unstoppable. Brisbane Roar secured the 2012/13 Westfield W-league Premiership and will be ruthlessly eying off the major trophy for their already bulging cabinet.
Just like Superman (or is that Wonder Woman?) there is very little that can stop Brisbane Roar. They persistently pressure the ball, force errors, and control the possession and momentum stakes. Teams can be up against Roar 2 nil in the 85th minute and still will not feel safe. Brisbane Roar will punish any player who does not have a flawless first touch and are seen to double team in many areas of the park.
If there is a way to break Roar’s clever and lively defenders it is in the air. Clinical crossing and a well-timed header seems to be the meal ticket against Roar and it is very important that their relatively unknown goalkeeper, Kate Stewart is tested from all areas. Teams trying to thread the ball through the middle will meet many orange bodies in a crowded box, so look for a vulnerable flank and mount an attack with multiple players available to pass as wingers will inevitably be double teamed as they approach the Roar box.
Tameka Butt (Forward) – (Technically Butt is classed as a midfielder but in my opinion she is a roaming forward!) - Butt needs no introduction nor explanation as to what makes her a match winner for Brisbane Roar.
Three simple words: Butt scores goals. In fact, Butt does not just score goals, she scores critical goals that strike fear into the hearts of defenders all over the world. Butt is experienced, can earn fouls in dangerous areas, can play under pressure, has a superb finish, and arguably has the best off-the-ball movement in the W-League.
Katrina Gorry (Midfielder) – Brisbane Roar re-acquired Queensland native Katrina Gorry to their squad this season after a stand-out performance with Melbourne Victory last season. Gorry has maintained her fine form and is giving week after week of player of the match performances. Gorry can hold up the ball, score, or thread the needle to Butt or Gielnik while on the run. She is a major threat and one to watch out for.
Elise Kellond-Knight (Defender) – KK is a quiet achiever, while well recognised professionally and graced with honours, when KK is on the field she will hardly make a peep. Careful observation of KK will highlight that she almost always wins the ball from an attacker with minimal fanfare.
A smooth style and relaxed on the ball KK will casually strip possession or force an error as easily as she puts on her socks in the morning. There was speculation of her fitness having returned from an ACL injury however, she returns as reliable as ever. It is no coincidence that Roar’s turnaround coincided with KK’s return to 90 mins in the backline.