Brisbane have given their most convincing A-League display under Robbie Fowler with a 2-0 win over Central Coast at Suncorp Stadium. Despite missing some golden opportunities in the first half, the Roar claimed their second win of the season thanks to second-half strikes by Roy O'Donovan and Scott Neville.
Stung by an underwhelming display in a 2-1 loss to Wellington last week, Fowler rang the changes on Saturday as the Roar aimed to end their run of not scoring a single goal in a first half this season. Youngster Dylan Wenzel-Halls and goalkeeper Jamie Young were among four new faces to the starting XI as the Roar moved to a 4-3-3 formation.
The changes brought a bright start, with a free-kick from Jay O'Shea hitting the side netting in the second minute but it was the Mariners who then went closest to opening the scoring. Korean Kim Eunsun lashed a shot against the crossbar in the 15th minute after getting behind the Roar defence. Danny De Silva and Matt Simon also tested Young before the Roar made a late push at the end of the half.
Ex-Roar midfielder Tommy Oar was shown a yellow card for bringing down Brad Inman on the edge of the penalty area in the 39th minute but Wenzel-Halls headed over from the resulting free kick. Moments later, O'Donovan had a great chance to open the scoring when put clear by O'Shea but Mariners keeper Mark Birighitti came off his line sharply to deny the Irish striker.
Clever work by O'Shea in the 45th minute found Inman inside the Mariners' box but Giancarlo Gallifuoco's desperate lunge ensured the score remained goalless at the break.
Wenzel-Halls continued to impress in the second term, forcing Birighitti into a smart save in the 59th minute before delivering the cross which allowed O'Donovan to open the scoring in the 61st minute. O'Donovan got to the ball ahead of Scottish defender Ziggy Gordon to poke home from close range his seventh goal in six appearances against his former club.
Relief for the Roar fans turned to joy five minutes later when Neville got above Gallifuoco to nod home an O'Shea corner for his first goal for the club.
In an attempt to get back into the match, Mariners coach Alen Stajcic threw on youngsters Jordan Murray and Sam Silvera and it was the latter who nearly got a goal back for the visitors in the 81st minute. Silvera surged past the Roar defence but was denied by a good save from Young with Oar unable to turn the ball in at the back post with the goal at his mercy.
Frustration boiled over for Stajcic in the dying minutes when he received a yellow card for dissent, the Mariners' fifth of the match, while none of the Roar players or staff were cautioned.
The victory lifts the Roar to sixth on eight points from seven games while the Mariners drop to eighth.
Brisbane face defending champions Sydney FC at Kogarah next Saturday while the Mariners have a bye.