Massive Freke save fires Roar to 2-1 win over Wanderers

Joanna Guelas |

Macklin Freke (second left) celebrates his late penalty save that clinched three points for Brisbane
Macklin Freke (second left) celebrates his late penalty save that clinched three points for Brisbane

Brisbane goalkeeper Macklin Freke has stolen the show, saving an injury-time penalty in the Roar’s 2-1 A-League Men win over Western Sydney Wanderers.

With the Roar holding the lead after Henry Hore’s 77th-minute strike, the Wanderers looked certain to equalise after a Tom Aldred handball gifted Marko Rudan’s side a crucial last-gasp spot-kick at CommBank Stadium on Friday.

Marcus Antonsson stepped up to take the penalty a minute into added time – and was denied when Freke pulled off a diving save, blocking the ball with his shin.

The Friday night win was eighth-placed Brisbane’s first since December, snapping a seven-match away winless streak and bringing them within five points of the top six with three games left to keep their slim finals hopes alive.

“I’m really proud of the boys. It was another positive performance, another step in the right direction for what we’re trying to implement,” Roar coach Ruben Zadkovich said.

“My mindset is … just to try and give a bit of stability to the group.

“It’s a team and a club that’s been through a hell of a lot over the last 12 months. I’m the sixth coach in the hot seat.

“When it fell on my shoulders, I was very firm on just giving the playing group a real clear identity, a positive style of play and a positive environment.”

The Wanderers’ winless streak at home stretched to six matches and they remain sixth, with a Sydney derby and games against the two Melbourne clubs to come.

“We certainly didn’t deserve to lose that game,” Rudan said.

“We created the better opportunities in the game, and we missed a penalty in the end.”

Aldred had silenced the Western Sydney faithful early with a headed goal in the 32nd minute following a corner from James O’Shea.

Nicolas Milanovic was primed to snatch one back for the Wanderers just a minute later thanks to a superb pass from Lachlan Brook but missed from point-blank range.

It was Dylan Pierias who broke through for the Wanderers, also following a corner, just three minutes after coming off the bench shortly after the hour mark.

Milanovic found redemption with a quality headed pass for Pierias to slot home with a backheeled finish, but the Wanderers’ party was short-lived when Hore slotted home what proved to be the match-winner 13 minutes later.