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New title threat Roar up for big Christmas

AAP logoAAP 18/12/2016 Emma Kemp

Brisbane's emergence as a genuine A-League title threat will only inspire further improvement in a high-octane Christmas period, says coach John Aloisi.

The Roar flew largely under the radar until a fortnight ago, avoiding defeat since that woeful round-two 4-0 loss to Newcastle but held back by four consecutive 1-1 draws.

But Aloisi's side have sprung firmly into the reckoning following back-to-back wins over Adelaide and Central Coast.

Sunday's 2-1 defeat of the Mariners in Gosford lifted them into third, on equal points with second-placed Melbourne Victory, while extending their undefeated run to nine games.

A pre-Christmas home clash with interstate rivals Western Sydney now looms on Friday night, before the Roar travel to face leaders Sydney FC and Victory, with a home meeting against the Jets sandwiched in between.

"We're still picking up points, we're still playing some good stuff, creating chances, defending with desperation when we have to," Aloisi said.

"But we know there's still a lot of improving left in our side in a lot of different areas.

"Any team that wants to win needs to look to improve each week, they have to look for motivation from within. We've got those players.

"We've got a good Christmas period coming ... the players are very easy to motivate when you're playing the Wanderers at home."

Veteran Thomas Broich was instrumental in Sunday's victory, his inch-perfect pass putting the 76th-minute winner on a plate for Jamie Maclaren five minutes after coming off the bench.

Aloisi pointed out he hadn't dropped the 35-year-old two-time Johnny Warren Medallist.

"Thomas has played a few games in a row so we have to look after his loading a little bit," he said.

"He's been doing really well for us, scored a goal (against Adelaide) and setting up goals.

"The ball he put on for Jamie Maclaren was a different class."

The coach also praised the "phenomenal workrate" of Maclaren and Dimi Petratos, who netted a whopper of a first-half free-kick.

Aloisi said contract talks with Maclaren were ongoing.

"There's been a lot of talk about his future, but he's put that out of his mind and just focused on football and doing well for the team," he said.

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