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Brisbane hold improved Wanderers to draw

NZN 25/11/2016 Emma Kemp

Friday night was another case of close but not close enough for Western Sydney, held to a 1-1 A-League draw by Brisbane thanks to their own wastefulness and Michael Theo's safe hands.

If A-League points were awarded for promise, then the Wanderers wouldn't still be seventh on the table, with a fifth draw in eight games and yet to triumph at Spotless Stadium in four.

Their second half at their temporary home ground, led by marquee playmaker Nicolas Martinez, would likely rate as their strongest yet except for a late 10-minute spell from Brisbane.

Yet the Roar, despite ceding copious amounts of territory and possession, claimed a valuable point to remain third, courtesy of striker-in-the-headlines Jamie Maclaren.

Maclaren put this week's contractual impasse to one side to earn and then convert a first-half penalty, before Japanese import Jumpei Kusukami settled the score on 56 minutes with his first A-League goal off a teasing Jack Clisby volley.

But despite the abundant chances - the Wanderers had 18 shots to the Roar's seven - this contest was far removed from the goal-happy affair of last season's epic 5-4 extra-time thriller.

Holding the lion's share of the ball and territory, the hosts again showed elements of real quality but were regularly let down by one too many a touch or misplaced pass.

Gilt-edged chances came and went for Kerem Bulut and Brendon Santalab among others, while Martinez, who played raider alongside Mitch Nichols, drew a superb save from a busy Theo.

At the other end, No.2 gloveman Jerrad Tyson pressed his case as Andrew Redmayne's replacement by denying Brett Holman with skill.

Moments later, he botched it by lunging at Maclaren in the box, an error of judgement that was perhaps a symptom of nearly three years on the sidelines.

Maclaren capitalised, sending Tyson the wrong way from the spot.

They could have crumbled, but Tony Popovic's men sprang into life after the break.

Scott Neville was a blistering outlet on the right flank but, unsurprisingly, Martinez orchestrated the equaliser, playing an intelligent ball into the path of an onrushing Clisby, whose subsequent cross presented a straightforward tap-in for Jumpei.

Popovic couldn't help but wonder how a second win of the campaign had evaded his side.

"We've wondered that a few times this year - more than a few - but that's football," he said.

"Again, we showed how good we are without the result."

Roar coach John Aloisi admitted there was a lot left wanting from his team's performance.

"We ended up inviting pressure by sitting so deep," Aloisi said.

"It wasn't our plan but the Wanderers pinned us back and we couldn't get out, then - when we did get the ball - we didn't keep it for long enough.

"But when you're not playing well, you need to somehow grind out a result, and we did do that so that's a positive."

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