The Brisbane Roar and Ipswich Invitational players are led on to the North Ipswich Reserve for yesterday’s keenly contested match.
The Brisbane Roar and Ipswich Invitational players are led on to the North Ipswich Reserve for yesterday’s keenly contested match. Rob Williams

Ipswich praised after Roar clash

BRISBANE Roar captain Matt Smith praised Ipswich's spirit on and off the football field after the A-League champion stood tall again in the city.

With Ipswich scoring its first goal in three years against the national title winner, Roar stars Besart Berisha and Henrique had to turn it on to secure a 5-1 win.

"I think it's been a great day," Smith said as he prepares to lead the A-League champion into a new season.

"It's probably the best Ipswich side we've played over the last three years. They worked very, very hard and certainly made it very difficult for us at times.

"It was great that the club comes out here.

"We've got thousands of people and the kids get a good show. They got some goals, they got some autographs and we're very pleased to be here."

Having also played an Ipswich Invitational team in 2010 and last year, Smith was impressed to see a younger team fielded at the North Ipswich Reserve.

"This year is the first year that I've seen a group of say 18-25, which is a good game for them," he said.

"It shows them the level that we play at and it's a great hit-out for us during our pre-season.

"It's always a great occasion. There's always great support."

Ipswich captain Matt Christensen was nursing a sore cheek after copping an elbow in the face early in the match.

However, he was proud of his team's performance.

"It was pretty much what we expected," Christensen said.

"We played well in the first half, then the flood gates opened in the second.

"They train every day.

"It was tough. We (the Ipswich players) played Friday night and you've got to play two days after.

"I was happy with all the boys. They played well."

Roar had held Ipswich scoreless in previous encounters, winning 5-0 in 2010 and 3-0 last year.

Playing the national champion for the first time, striker Matt Taylor created history by netting an equaliser.

"It was a good feeling," Taylor said.

"Dropping off in the second half was disappointing. We got tired, starting fatiguing, and that's when they tore shreds around us."

Fresh from a five-goal haul for the Ipswich Knights on Friday night, Peter Drager was unable to find the net yesterday.

However, he was heartened by how Ipswich threatened the Roar defence this year.

"I think that's the best we've played against them," Drager said.

"We actually got the ball on the ground and knocked it around pretty well.

"Even though in the second half they rolled over the top of us, we had some pretty good attacking moves.

"I'm stoked with how the guys went. They did really well."

Drager said Ipswich football was improving.

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