We decipher exactly what got us the win last night with two performances standing out.
The sight of Scott Jamieson storming forward into attack is not an uncommon one for those who have watched the former Adelaide, Sydney and Perth man over the years.
During his time in the Hyundai A-League, Jamieson has developed into one of the most accomplished fullbacks in the league and earned a reputation as one of the best attacking fullbacks in the country.
This is evidenced by the 26-year-old’s performances for Perth last season in which he was far and away the most dangerous fullback in the league, leading shot assists with 32, and finishing behind only former Wanderer Tarek Elrich in assists, with five.
But because of the way Kenny Lowe’s team structured a large amount of their attacking play through their fullbacks last season, and because Tony Popovic is traditionally more cautious with his, it left many intruiged as to how Jamieson would be integrated into the managers structure and whether his trademark bursts down the left would be limited.
On the evidence of last night’s encounter with Brisbane, Jamieson will continue to give the opposition genuine headaches during the upcoming season.
The Wanderers left back was arguably the best player on ground and by far the most productive player on the field in the final third, managing 13 crosses in dangerous areas.
It’s the variety of delivery that makes Jamieson’s attacking forays so exciting. He is both able to overlap past his fellow wide-man (on this occasion, a mixture of Nichols and Mebrahtu) and create danger from the by-line, whip dangerous outswingers into the box, or create havoc from a set-piece situation.
Just like his deliveries, Jamieson possesses the cunning and intelligence to vary the types of supporting runs made forward. Throughout the night we saw the Wanderers number three hugging the touchline while he would also create space in behind the Brisbane back four through tireless movement off the ball, which led to several chances.
In this instance, we see Jamieson instinctively bolt forward after Andreu regained possession. Jamieson ends up in an inside-left position by the time he is ready to get the ball into the box – a space very rarely occupied by fullbacks. On the night, this position was predominantly taken up by the likes of Nichols and Mebrahtu: capturing the willingess of Jamieson to push forward at the right moment.
On this occasion, Mark Bridge was unable to glance the header on target but it was a chance that typified the energy and dynamism the swashbuckling and industrious Jamieson has brought to Tony Popovic’s team.
Although Jamieson’s energy was the source of the Wanderers best attacking moments, they were made possible by the positional sense of Kearyn Baccus and to a lesser extent, Jacob Pepper. The average position of each Wanderers player highlights Jamieson’s inclination to move forward up the pitch, whilst on the opposite side, Jacob Pepper tucked inside with his central defensive partners to hold a more defensive position to prevent any danger on the counter.
Baccus in particular deserves praise after the holding midfielder played a pivotal role in covering for Jamieson’s forays down the left hand side.
Baccus was stationed as the deeper-lying midfielder, often occupying the space between the Brisbane back-four and midfield to ensure space afforded to the dangerous Thomas Broich was limited.
The former Blacktown City man made a game high 58 passes, out performing the more experienced Luke Brattan in the holding midfield role.
But it was Baccus’ performance without the ball in the Wanderers defensive third that proved the most effective.
The midfielder won three out three challenges contested during the 90 minutes in another game high shared with, in slightly unlikely fashion, Mitch Nichols. Notice the area these tackles were won – all on the left hand side of the Wanderers half, in areas left behind by Scott Jamieson.
Whilst Tony Popovic admitted his team are still finding their cohesion and fitness levels, he will not only be satisfied with the 1-0 result on the night but the eye-catching performance of his signing from Perth, and perhaps the coming of age of a talented young midfielder.
Data courtesy of Fox Sports and Opta.