Striker’s triple treat
HAT-TRICK hero Besart Berisha upstaged star attraction Harry Kewell on Lismore's big day of top-level football action - and was then declared "undisputably" the best striker in the A-League by boss Mike Mulvey.
The talented Brisbane Roar marksman scored a hat-trick in his side's 3-0 victory over A-League rivals Melbourne Heart in yesterday's trial match at Oakes Oval.
Berisha's treble, which included an opener after just 16 seconds, delighted a crowd of more than 5000 and sent out an ominous warning to his side's rivals ahead of the forthcoming campaign.
Roar coach Mulvey was cautiously happy with the win, but full of praise for his lethal forward.
"He is undisputedly the best striker in the league," he said.
"One thing you can see is his attitude and focus. His football ability is second to none and he has come back this season with great clarity about what he wants to achieve.
"We have to put this into perspective, but I thought we were good value for the win."
Berisha signalled Roar's intentions immediately, finishing off a well-taken goal to give his side the lead before many of the crowd had taken their seats.
The Roar continued to dominate, with star midfielder Thomas Broich a key figure.
Roar remained on top in the second period and Berisha made it two with a clinical strike from 25m.
The 28-year-old confirmed his side's superiority with a lovely header into the bottom corner shortly before the end.
It contrast, it was a quiet day for 58-cap Socceroo Kewell, who was the main draw card for many of the crowd.
The 34-year-old showed some neat touches at times and played the full 90 minutes as he builds up fitness levels ahead of the forthcoming season.
The convincing victory secured Roar the Craig Foster Cup, named in honour of the Lismore football expert.
Foster, who was among the day's special guests, said the match's importance could not be underestimated.
"A game like this is hugely important for the local football here and important for the community," he said.
"The fans have seen a great game with a high technical level.
"It has been a huge winner for the football here."
Heart is hosting a public session from 5-6pm tonight at Oakes Oval.