All was forgiven by Brisbane Roar fans when Melbourne Victory-bound Besart Berisha sealed a 2-1 A-League win over Central Coast on Sunday.
But at first it was hard to pardon the Roar for missing endless scoring chances before sealing a victory that extended their ladder lead over Western Sydney to seven points with a game in hand.
Berisha took the field for the first time since announcing he would link with the Victory at season’s end after serving a last round suspension.
While the Albanian international was spared the Roar faithful’s wrath from the 16,078-strong crowd, Berisha still had plenty to complain about after missing a spate of chances including a first half air swing.
And his rustiness in front of goal appeared contagious as the Roar squandered chance after chance before Henrique (66th minute) finally cancelled out Mile Sterjovski’s surprise 37th minute opener.
However, Berisha was not to be denied in his return, finally evading Mariners keeper Liam Reddy in the 90th minute.
Defending champions Central Coast appeared vulnerable after young defender Trent Sainsbury (Dutch club PEC Zwolle) and veteran striker Daniel McBreen (Chinese Super League club Shanghai SIPG) this week announced they were moving on.
They joined an exodus that included four players before the season had started, the departure of inspirational coach Graham Arnold to Japan and even a new CEO.
However, the Mariners juggernaut still threatened to rumble on and extend their unbeaten run to six matches.
But Central Coast were still held to just six wins from 33 games against Brisbane thanks to Berisha’s last gasp winner.
The first half was all Brisbane yet it was Central Coast who enjoyed the 1-0 halftime lead.
The Roar assault began from the seventh minute when Luke Brattan’s free kick was denied.
Berisha did not the earn the ire of the crowd but did enough to when he threatened throughout, only to fluff each chance.
His best first half opportunity came from a Thomas Broich cross in the 35th minute, only to inexplicably produce an air swing.
And when the Mariners immediately counterattacked, Sterjovski was brought down by Roar keeper Michael Theo before kicking truly from the spot in the resulting penalty.
Brisbane immediately threatened after the halftime break but Dimitri Petratos’s point blank header off a Broich cross went wide.
Petratos did find the back of the net in the 48th but was deemed off-side.
The law of averages finally kicked in when Henrique came off the bench and levelled in the 66th before Berisha finally weaved his magic.