League leaders Brisbane Roar tonight broke the Australian national league record for most matches without a loss. The Roar notched up 23 games without defeat when they defeated Melbourne Heart 2-1, inching past the APIA Leichhardt side of 1986/87 who set a 22-game undefeated record.
Brisbane produced their 16th win of the season thanks to an early goal from Jean Carlos Solorzano before James Meyer made it 2-0 to continue his brilliant start to his A-League career. Heart's Gerald Sibon caused some panic with a 75th minute cracker that gave the visitors plenty of hope but the Roar held out to put one hand on the 2010/11 Premier's Plate.
The loss ended a six-match unbeaten run for the Heart who are now in grave danger of missing out in the finals despite the fact they still sit sixth.
GOAL The match started perfectly for the league leaders in the 5th minute when defender Matt Smith played a through ball towards Mitch Nichols in midfield but it evaded his initial target and rolled into the path of Jean Carlos Solorzano who strolled past a lead-footed Simon Colosimo. The Costa Rican advanced to the top of the box before slotting across Clint Bolton with a well-angled shot from the right for his 11th of the season.
The lack of quality of the Skilled Park pitch was making life difficult for both sides who like to knock the ball around but it did not stop them from attacking particularly the Roar who were being their usual selves by providing plenty of chances.
Kosta Barbarouses forced a bobbled save from Bolton in the 15th minute before the Heart were stretched, but eventually cleared, when the Kiwi striker was unmarked on the right side of the area but could not find a teammate in the box.
The Heart, as always, looked comfortable going forward down the wings through Michael Marrone and Aziz Behich but it was Gerald Sibon who missed a close range volley after Alex Terra found John Aloisi at the back post with the veteran heading into the path of the big Dutchman.
Roar keeper Michael Theoklitos came up with a top class save in the 29th minute when Josip Skoko found Aloisi in the area from a free-kick but the crafty striker's left-footed volley was knocked to safety by the ex-Melbourne Victory custodian as the Heart continued to push forward.
The 35th minute saw Bolton make a vital save down the other end when Solorzano burned off Matt Thompson but he did not get enough room to place a strong shot on as the Heart keeper came flying off his line and was able to get some contact on the ball to knock it away.
Heart substitute Rutger Worm, who had earlier replaced Jason Hoffman, forced Theoklitos scrambling with a whipped attempt from outside the area in the 42nd minute but it was the last play of any real consequence as both sides headed into dressing rooms on an even keel despite the scoreline.
Theoklitos was again at the forefront of the action shortly after play resumed when he used his quick reaction time to again deny Aloisi after a corner was flicked on by skipper Colosimo but the Roar keeper safely held the close range header from the Heart veteran.
Barbarouses flashed inches wide of the left upright in the 62nd minute when Solorzano played a short ball to him outside the area before James Meyer again got in on the action for the Roar. GOAL German midfielder Thomas Broich played a neat ball to the new cult hero who let it run in front of him before toe poking past Bolton to make it 2-0 and notch up his fourth goal in less than 100 minutes of A-League action.
The Roar could have easily been 3-0 ahead in the 68th minute when Barbarouses again lashed wide of the left post and the New Zealander should have scored five minutes later when Erik Paartalu found him in the area but Bolton made a crucial save with his legs.
GOAL Barbarouses would be made to pay for his inefficiency in front of goal as he was subbed off and the Heart hit back through Sibon in the 75th minute. Aloisi held up the ball outside the area before sliding into the path of Sibon and he hammered it past Theoklitos with hardly a back-lift for his seventh of the term.
It was a well-deserved goal for the visitors and they were keen to go again by showing their intent for a leveler but for all their hard work they could not penetrate the Roar defence, who were still gelling following the departure of centre-back Luke DeVere to Korea.
Theoklitos came up with the goods in the 88th minute when Sibon found Aloisi in the area and the Roar gloveman dived to his right to parry away, allowing his side to record yet another victory in what is looking to be a very special season for Ange Postecoglou and his men.
BR Michael Theoklitos (gk), Matt Smith, Shane Stefanutto, Ivan Franjic, Milan Susak, Erik Paartalu, Kosta Barbarouses (Henrique 74'), James Meyer, Jean Carlos Solorzano, Mitch Nichols, Thomas Broich
Subs - Andrew Redmayne (gk), Henrique (74'), Matt Mundy, Chris Bush
Subs - Peter Zois (gk), Rutger Worm (37'), Nick Kalmar (69'), Michael Beauchamp