A late goal from substitute Labinot Haliti has earned Western Sydney a 1-1 draw with Brisbane in their A-League top of the table game at Parramatta.
Substitute Labinot Haliti’s timely first goal of the season salvaged a 1-1 draw for Western Sydney Wanderers and denied Brisbane the chance to take an almost unbreakable grip on the A-League Premier’s Plate.
Haliti’s 84th minute goal at Parramatta Stadium on Friday gave the home side a well deserved point, after they dominated territory and possession for large chunks of the top of the table clash.
He sneaked in between goalkeeper Michael Theo and defender James Donachie to direct a right wing cross from Aaron Mooy into the net from close range..
Had Wanderers not equalised, they would have trailed Brisbane by ten points, having played one more game, with nine rounds remaining.
Brisbane, looked to have at least one hand firmly on the Plate, when Besart Berisha notched his eighth goal in just 11 appearances in the 12th minute.
Berisha cut in from there right steered his shot between goalkeeper Ante Covic and his near post.
It was the first real Roar attack of the night after the Wanderers controlled the early stages and forced the visitors deep into their own half..
Renowned for their possession based-football and silky attacking skills, Brisbane showed plenty of defensive steel, as they used fair and foul means to keep the Wanderers at bay.
Wanderers struggled to pierce the Roar defence prior to Haliti’s goal, their best chance coming within two minutes of the second half, when Brendon Santalab hit a post from close range.
Mark Bridge wasted a couple of good shooting opportunities later in the half.
While Wanderers persistently pushed Brisbane deep into their own half, the Roar still created good chances from their sporadic counter attacks.
Thomas Broich fired a shot into the side netting and Henrique wasted a good chance by shooting straight at shot straight at Covic.
Brisbane’s main first half chances apart from Berisha’s strike were two good fee kicks from Dimi Petratos
Before the break, Youssouf Hersi had a firm shot turned away by Theo and Matthew Spiranovic and Brendon Santalab fired headers at the Roar goal.
Brisbane coach Mike Mulvey was happy with the point and warned his side would only get better over the reminder of the competition.
“It was a serious examination, tonight, they gave us a real good test and we expected it,” Mulvey said.
“There’s two schools of thought. You could be disappointed we conceded a goal very late on, but you can give praise to them in terms of the pressure they put us under.
“I wouldn’t say we cracked, but they found a way to open the door.”
He praised emerging star Luke Brattan and felt he had the potential to dominate A-League midfields in the future.
Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said his players never gave up and rated it an excellent team performance.
“The least we deserved was an equaliser and we got that,” Popovic said.
“We would have liked to have got it a bit earlier, because I think we would have went on to win that game.
“The performance overall for me was outstanding and that’s three consecutive games now I that I feel we’ve played well.”