SPURNED Socceroo Jamie Maclaren scored his 15th goal of the season as Brisbane Roar beat a weakened Melbourne Victory 1-0 at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
Dropped from Australia's latest squad, Maclaren sent national coach Ange Postecoglou another message with a superb 51st-minute strike that decided the contest.
Maclaren's seventh goal in past six A-League games lifted Brisbane to 36 points and level with third-placed Melbourne City.
Second-placed Victory's loss also ended their unlikely bid to overtake Sydney FC at the top of the ladder, with the Sky Blues having clinched the Premier's Plate.
Maclaren wasn't the only Roar player to shine, with former Socceroo Brett Holman excellent as Brisbane put a week of turmoil behind them - including the suspensions of goalkeeper Michael Theo, assistant coach Ross Aloisi and football director Craig Moore for events in Adelaide last Sunday - to win for the ninth time this season.
Apart from Ross Aloisi, the Roar's high-performance boss Karl Dodd was also missing from Brisbane's bench after resigning less than 24 hours before kick-off.
The Roar made four changes to the team that started in their 2-1 loss to Adelaide United.
Two were forced, with goalkeeper Jamie Young and midfielder Joe Caletti replacing Theo and injured skipper Michael Theo respectively.
Marquee man Thomas Broich returned from an ankle injury, coming in for Manuel Arana, who missed the squad altogether.
The other change was the return central defender Luke DeVere, after a five-week absence with a torn calf. He replaced veteran Jade North, who was demoted to the bench.
International duties cost the Victory the services of three of their starters - Besart Berisha (Kosovo), Marco Rojas (New Zealand) and James Troisi (Socceroos) - from their 4-1 win over Perth Glory, as well as Jai Ingham (New Zealand).
As a result, the visitors lacked spice in attack. Still, they made it tough for the Roar with a dogged display and had claims for a penalty when the ball appeared to hit the arm of Brisbane defender Jack Hingert just minutes before Maclaren's memorable goal.
To the delight of the 13,000-strong crowd, Maclaren got the better of Victory defenders Alan Baro and Nick Ansell before catching goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas off his line with a sublime effort from 20 metres.
Maclaren should have doubled the Roar's lead 11 minutes later after being served an opportunity on a platter by Holman.
But Maclaren scuffed his shot, with the ball flying wide of the post.
The Victory had a great chance to equalise in the 71st minute but Jason Geria somehow failed to guide a close-range header past Roar goalkeeper Jamie Young after being picked out by Fahid Ben Khalfallah.
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