The mental demons O’Donovan overcame to make Hyundai A-League history
Roy O’Donovan missed not once but twice the last time he took a penalty kick, and it haunted him throughout the off-season.
But on Sunday, eight months after the Irishman saw two spot-kicks denied by Ben Kennedy in Newcastle Jets’ dramatic 3-2 loss to Central Coast Mariners, O’Donovan secured retribution.
O’Donovan kept his composure from 12 yards on two occasions to secure a hat-trick and complete an incredible 4-3 comeback win for Brisbane Roar over Melbourne City in Sunday's epic.
He later revealed to FOX Sports that his infamous pair of spurned penalties in Round 22’s F3 Derby defeat last season had been playing on his mind.
“I certainly have thought about that a lot in the off-season. I spent three months thinking about that,” he said.
“I had to make sure I got it right. It was a little bit of mind games. [Dean] Bouzanis is a good 'keeper, but I made my mind up.
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Having failed to find the back of the net since Round 1’s stoppage time equaliser against Perth Glory, the 34-year-old suddenly had three to his name in the space of 33 minutes.
It came after opposite number and Caltex Socceroos star Jamie Maclaren announced his return from a hamstring injury with a hat-trick of his own.
Maclaren’s goals put City 2-0 and 3-1 up over the Roar but Robbie Fowler’s men stormed home in the second half – a performance the former Premier League legend labelled ‘quite incredible’.
“It shows we have a little bit about us,” Fowler said.
Records written in Redcliffe
New goal-scoring feats were pencilled just as quickly as the goals flew in during Sunday’s 4-3 epic at Redcliffe’s Dolphin Stadium.
It became the first Hyundai A-League game to see players from each team register hat-tricks, a feat not once seen in the former National Soccer League as confirmed by Australian football stats guru Andrew Howe.
Roy O’Donovan became the seventh Brisbane player in history to notch a treble – joining Maclaren, Besart Berisha, Dimitri Petratos, Henrique, Steven Lustica and Serginho.
Maclaren, meanwhile, enters the City history books as the fourth ever to score a hat-trick for the club from Bundoora. The other three are Bruno Fornaroli, Robert Koren and David Williams.
After posting his second of the game on the half hour mark, the Australian international also became the second player in competition history to score two goals in three consecutive league matches.
Former Wellington Phoenix star Roy Krishna managed that feat last season and went on to clinch the Johnny Warren Medal.
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Echoes of Sydney derby defeat drove Sky Blues
Kosta Barbarouses wrote the headlines with a goal against the club with whom he was a former darling but ensuring they did not repeat their Sydney derby showing against Western Sydney Wanderer was arguably the biggest victory of Sydney FC’s Big Blue win on Sunday.
Steve Corica’s side dominated possession and shots but trailed Melbourne Victory 1-0 at the break thanks to Ola Toivonen’s header.
The pattern of the match was eerily similar to that of the clash Bankwest Stadium last month, according to the Sky Blues boss.
Sydney's dominance ultimately pays off
“It felt a little bit like the Wanderers game. I reminded the boys about that,” said Corica.
“The key was moving the ball quicker, and more combination play in the final third, and to press them a lot higher. We dominated the game, there's no doubt about that.”
Sydney had 19 shots to Victory’s four by the end of Sunday’s 51st Big Blue. Against the Wanderers in Round 3, the Sky Blues registered 21 to their rivals 10.
“We didn’t make the same mistake twice,” noted Barbarouses. “We showed a lot of character to get back into the game and win the game.”
Sydney boss Grant was also effusive in his praise of fullback Rhyan Grant, who returned to Australia on Saturday morning following 90 minutes in the Caltex Socceroos’ 1-0 win over Jordan on Friday (AEDT).
“He could probably [play tomorrow] if you asked him,” said the 46-year-old.
“To back up again... I really think Rhino’s gone to another level this season.”
Kruse return a bonus for injury-hit Victory
Marco Kurz’s side still have a solitary win to their name after six matches and Sunday’s defeat adds to what has been a lacklustre start to the campaign for the four-time Hyundai A-League Champions.
But the return of Caltex Socceroo forward Robbie Kruse was a bright note for German coach and fans of the Navy Blue.
The 31-year-old entered the fray as a 65th minute substitute for Josh Hope.
"It's good to have him back, it's good that he's involved in the training sessions, but he needs time for development,” said Kurz.
“He played the last game five months ago and maybe we need a couple of weeks when he's fully fit for 90 minutes."
Kruse concurred with his manager’s assessment.
"It's about getting the minutes into me.... hopefully I can build on this, get back up to scratch quickly and the results start to come."
Adelaide show class in 19-minute blitz
Adelaide United are difficult to stop when they’re in the mood, as they reminded fans again during their 3-1 win over the Mariners on Saturday.
Ben Halloran, Nikola Mileusnic and Kristian Opseth all capitalised on a sensational 19-minute cameo in which the Reds simply blew Alen Stajcic’s side out of the water.
Although the Reds conceded the first goal yet again in Gosford, the manner of their response was frightening and demonstrated that Verbeek’s side in full-flight are quite the proposition.
Adelaide have proven capable of blowing teams asunder despite their slow starts. As well as this lethal spell against Central Coast, the Reds scored twice in seven minutes against Sydney three times in 26 minutes against Melbourne City in the FFA Cup Final and twice in 12 minutes against Newcastle Jets.
“It was as good an away performance as we’ve seen this season… I’d be so happy if I was Gertjan Verbeek,” said FOX Sports pundit Mark Bosnich.
Newcastle off the mark
Ernie Merrick said his Jets side would need to dig deep in order to beat Western United on Saturday and that is exactly how Newcastle managed their 1-0 win over the new boys.
Glen Moss was the hero in between the posts after Angus Thurgate’s strike on 36 minutes, which was assisted by Dimitri Petratos – the Australian international’s 14th since joining the Jets in 2017/18.
No other Hyundai A-League player has registered more assists in that time.
Moreover, this was Newcastle’s first away clean sheet in six games.
“Towards the end there, of course, Western United threw a lot of players forward, and that happened against Perth Glory last week and we couldn’t cope," said Merrick.
"Today we coped with it so it’s a credit to the boys.”