21/04/2024

Having lost several key players during the offseason, the Roar were bound to struggle this season. Image: Brisbane Roar FC

After a finals berth last season, the Brisbane Roar were unable to recapture the form of last season following the departure of key players.

Having made the finals last year, the Brisbane Roar’s 2021/22 season was not as fruitful, with the side falling down the ladder.

Finishing 11th on the ladder, it was always going to be tough for the Roar to replicate their 2020-21 form with key players departing.

Integral squad members Dylan Wenzel-Halls, Jamie Young, Joe Champness, and Macaulay Gillesphey left in the offseason. Japanese midfielder Riku Danzaki also didn’t return after his loan spell expired, moving back to his parent club Consadole Sapporo with the Roar unable to strike a deal with the Japanese outfit to sign him permanently.

Though they brought in several exciting prospects and showed encouraging signs, the new-look Roar outfit ultimately struggled to gel together for the majority of the season.

The Highs

Brisbane managed to unravel some hidden gems this season, with Henry Hore plucked out of the Victorian NPL. He looked comfortable at A-League Men’s level, scoring five goals in 23 appearances. He was awarded as the club’s breakout player of the season.

Striker Luke Ivanovic also showed good signs. Having struggled for regular playing time at Sydney, he’s proven to be a rising star.

Meanwhile, stars of the Roar’s NPL side Cyrus Dehmie and Eli Adams also got opportunities in the first team and put in modest showings. Signings Juan Lescano and Nikola Mileusnic impressed in their first season at Redcliffe with the duo combining for 13 goal contributions for the season.

A major highlight of the campaign was their road trip to HBF Park in Round 19, taking out Perth Glory 4-1. Despite registering fewer shots on goal and having less possession, the Roar were clinical in front of goal.

Lescano scored a brace and Ivanovic scored his first goal of the campaign. Additionally, keeper Jordan Holmes played his best game of the season, making six saves for the game.

Another memorable team performance was their win over Sydney FC in the final game of the season. Winning 3-1 at home, gave the Roar faithful something to cheer about as the season closed.

In addition to ending their six games winless run, the Roar recorded their first victory over the Sky Blues since February 2019.

The Lows

Brisbane’s defensive woes proved to be problematic this season, with the side boasting the third-worst defensive record of the 2021-22 campaign. Registering fewer shots than its opponents and rarely finishing a game with the majority of possession, the side was often on the back foot.

Having conceded 28 goals in its past two seasons, Brisbane conceded 39 goals this campaign. Additionally, the side kept a clean sheet just four times this season and only once while victorious.

Though the Roar were competitive in most games this season, their issues at the back caused them a lot of pain this season. They’d drop crucial points throughout the season, either losing or drawing in six games this season despite being in winnable positions.

While 33-year-old Scott Neville looked comfortable in an under-pressure defence, others around him failed to be as solid defensively.

Scott Neville was solid, but fellow defenders couldn’t keep opposition sides at bay. Image: Brisbane Roar FC

Losing 14 games, the second-most of any side in the competition this season, Brisbane’s worst performance was its 3-0 loss to Wellington in Round 8 at Leichhardt Oval.

A perfect example of their defence coming undone, Gael Sandoval and Reno Piscopo in the second half scored two goals in four minutes, unlocking the Roar’s defence with ease.

MVP

Putting in an impressive campaign in a down year for the club, midfielder Jay O’Shea was one of the best midfielders in the competition this season. Aged 33, the veteran had his best season since coming to Australia.

Having not missed a game in the 2020-21 season, O’Shea once again played every game of the season in 2021-22. He finished the campaign with 13 goal contributions, having made just 14 across his first two seasons, it was by far the midfielder’s most productive season in the league.

Registering 10 assists and scoring three goals, he was Brisbane’s top goal contributor and assist leader. Additionally, he finished second with the most assists in the entire league.

With the club scoring 29 goals for the season, O’Shea was responsible for nearly 50 per cent of Brisbane’s goals this season.

Having been an influential player for the Roar this season, he would get rewarded for his effort, being named the club’s player of the season and player’s player of the season.

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Breakout Player

Having been awarded by the club as the breakout player of the season, the aforementioned Henry Hore was impressive in his season at senior level.

Having spent a stint with the Roar’s youth squad early in his career, the 22-year-old attacking midfielder would return to the side following stints in the NPL with the Perth Glory’s reserves, Lions FC, and South Melbourne.

Solid without starring in the Victorian NPL for South Melbourne last season, it was unknown whether Hore was going to make the grade, but he’s proven to be a shrewd piece of business for the club.

Having scored five goals for the season, Hore progressed from a player who came off the bench and provided a spark to an asserted member of Brisbane’s starting XI.

Henry Hore didn’t look out of place at A-League level. Image: Brisbane Roar FC

Final Word

Though finishing the season on the lower rungs on the ladder, the Brisbane Roar had a better season than the ladder suggests.

For the most part, they were competitive during the season, even when matched up against the top sides of the competition they were rarely blown away.

There’s also a lot of upside with the youngsters they have with Adams, Dehmie, Hore, Ivanovic and Kai Trewin showing encouraging signs.

However despite the signs of promise the squad are showing, if the Roar wants to go forward they’ll need to address their defensive woes. Though their defence was nowhere near as leaky as it was during the 2018-19 season in which the side conceded 71 goals, they will not make inroads if they struggle at the back again.

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