• FT

    CC Mariners

    0

    N'castle Jet

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    Perth Glory

    0

    Melbourne V

    1

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    Brisbane

    1

    WSFC

    2

AUSTRALIAN A-LEAGUE

Suncorp Stadium, Australia

* Local time based on your geographic location.

Brisbane Roar

  • Mitch Nichols 23'

1 - 2

FT

Western Sydney FC

  • Mark Bridge 66'
  • Youssouf Hersi 70'

Roar to place faith in new defence combo

Brisbane Roar must place their faith in an unlikely defensive combination after losing both skipper Matt Smith and Socceroo Jade North in a huge double blow for Sunday's A-League clash with Western Sydney.

Recent scapegoat Matt Jurman can resurrect a forgettable season by partnering youngster James Donachie in central defence in what is a crucial home clash for the defending champions.

The fourth-placed Wanderers are flying with their attack clicking into gear and will eye a prime opportunity to heap more misery on the struggling Roar at Suncorp Stadium.

While North, who last played in Japan more than a month ago, needs to improve his match fitness before gaining a Brisbane debut, Smith has finally succumbed to a hip injury.

The Roar captain has been playing with the pain for six weeks but coach Mike Mulvey has made the tough call to finally rest him despite being one point off dead last.

Brisbane have battled to replace former Bahrain international Mohamad Adnan this season as Jurman, dropped by both Rado Vidosic and Mulvey, has failed to step up.

Jurman isn't the player set to get a redemption chance with pint-sized midfielders Massimo Murdocca and Luke Brattan given the chance to stand tall against the Wanderers.

Fan favourite Murdocca appeared out of favour upon Mulvey's mid-season arrival but has suddenly become an integral part of the Roar coach's plans after this week's departure of key midfielder Erik Paartalu for China.

Murdocca's enthusiasm off the bench was infectious in his last round cameo but he could not stop a disappointing Roar falling 1-0 at Newcastle - their ninth loss in 16 games.

Mulvey is looking for more of the same when he throws his vertically-challenged trump card into a more defensive midfield role against the Wanderers.

A foundation player at Brisbane, Murdocca rated the loss to the Jets as the "worst performance I have seen in a long time".

"We've had some tough times but this is a bit different considering we pretty much have the same players from the championship-winning side," he said.

"That's probably the most disappointing part of it all. We've been so successful then we drop down like a sack of potatoes."

Mulvey will also be looking at midfielder Luke Brattan to grab an opportunity in the reshuffle created by Paartalu's absence.

The Wanderers have lost attacking spark Tahj Minniecon for the rest of the season with a foot injury but his loss has opened the door for another former Roar player, Rocky Visconte, to take on his old team.

Coach Tony Popovic said Visconte could make his Wanderers debut while striker Dino Kresinger was also a strong chance of returning from a knee injury.

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