After a length five-month off-season, the A-League was back and Pirtek Stadium in Parramatta was the venue for the Season 11 Opener as 14,122 fans descended on Wanderland to watch a new look side take on new manager John Aloisi and his Brisbane Roar outfit. It was a delight to see the A-League back in full force and it was a brilliant opening twenty minutes.
The Wanderers looked threatening early but the script went out the window in the ninth minute as Roar recruit Jamie Maclaren stunned the home fans with the opening goal of the season. Brendan Hamill's shocking pass out from the back was picked off by Maclaren and calmly slotted over Andrew Redmayne. It was a gift for Maclaren and one that was taken with accuracy.
It definitely wasn't the way the Wanderers wanted the game to go and they hit back rather quickly through their new recruit Mitch Nichols. The former Roar man looked to hit a cross-turned-shot that slotted neatly into the far right corner of the net. It was a decent equaliser from Nichols and suddenly the home side were back in business.
Corners would hinder the Wanderers greatly with Brisbane's marquee import Corona swinging in some dangerous balls. On the 23rd minute, it'd pay off as upcoming centre-back Daniel Bowles smashed a header home to give the away side another lead.
11 minutes later, it was on again. Shocking corner-defending costs the Wanderers and this time Jamie Maclaren was on hand to smash home his second from point-blank range. It was suddenly falling apart for the Asian Champions League winners.
The home side had a fair share of chances but were unable to convert. It very well could have been 3-3, maybe more, at the half-time break and there really should have been a goal or two in the second stanza. Standouts for the Wanderers included goalscorer Mitch Nichols who gave his all for his new club against one of his former sides and another new recruit Scott Jamieson who looked troubling on the overlap.
Marquee import Corona showed why John Aloisi and the Roar have so much faith in the Spaniard. He was clinical and considering it was only his first game in the Hyundai A-League, he'll no doubt show a lot of improvement over the coming weeks and months. With playmakers like Corona and Thomas Broich, the Roar could trouble some of the higher-ranked teams this season.
Jamie Maclaren was excellent on debut and showed a lot of ability up front, leading the line for Roar. He punished the Wanderers for their mistake in trying to play out from the back and was in the right place at the right time for his second; roaming the middle of the area as a corner came swinging in and like all good goalscorers should, he smashed it in at first opportunity.
Daniel Bowles returned home to Queensland last season and with a full pre-season at the Roar under his belt, the 23-year old defender looks to be an improved player under the tutorship of John Aloisi. His header was quality and his defending matched it. Bowles will have competition for that centre back position but did no harm to his chances of a prolonged stay in Aloisi's prefered eleven with his performance at Pirtek Stadium.