Victory set unwanted record after draw with Roar
SEVEN months clearly makes a big difference in the A-League.
Just hours after last season's wooden spooner Newcastle moved to the top of the table, Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar clashed at Etihad Stadium in a rematch of the 2016-17 semi-final.
While the match exploded to life in the last 20 minutes, with both goals coming late, those in attendance otherwise endured a drab encounter that was indicative of where both of these teams sit after six rounds.
Besart Berisha looked for all money that he had once again netted the winner against his old side, scoring in the 79th minute after being teed up by the brilliant Leroy George.
The goal came on the back of Victory's 10 best minutes of football for the night and the hosts appeared to have all the momentum.
Enter Brett Holman, who came off the bench in the 65th minute, looked bright and then scored the equaliser in the 84th to earn his side a point.
Both sides have excuses, there is no doubt about that.
Both were hideously undermanned on Saturday night - Victory, mainly because of international withdrawals, the Roar through injury.
But the fact remains that season 2017-18 has failed to ignite for this pair of three-time champions.
This is now the longest Victory has gone without a win to start the season.
It had five draws to start 2007-08 and then won in Round 6.
It missed the finals that season.
Brisbane, which hasn't beaten Victory in Melbourne since January 2014, has now gone seven in a row without a win including that semi last season.
That is a club record, surpassing the six games in a row recorded in October-November 2006.
Jamie Young starred for Brisbane, his battle with George a highlight of a match with few to recount.
It was the Roar shot-stopper's few reflex saves that helped keep his side in the contest.
One other highlight, it must be said, was in the stands, with Victory's active support base as loud as they have been in years, keeping the atmosphere bubbling along despite the lack of action on the pitch.
Victory's opener came after substitute Christian Theoharous cut in from the left for George, who put on the assist for Berisha's first-time shot, whipping around on his right foot.
Berisha scored the winner in the 1-0 semi win over the Roar in April at AAMI Park, but it would only earn a point last night after Holman was on the spot to tap home from point blank range after some brilliant overlapping play from Jack Hingert down the right.
Fahid Ben Khalfallah, who was due to play his first game against his old club, hurt himself in the warm-up and was replaced just before kick-off by Nick D'Agostino, the last thing the already undermanned Roar needed.