Devilishly Close! Strikers Hold Off Redlands Fightback
Brisbane Strikers started their National Premier Leagues campaign on a winning note Sunday evening defeating Redlands United 2-1 at Perry Park in an entertaining twilight fixture.
Young forward Josh Taylor opened the scoring for the hosts in the first half before club captain Nick Robinson extended the lead from the penalty spot soon after the hour.
A stunning 20 yard strike with 12 minutes remaining from Jheison Macauace set up a tense finale for the 600 strong crowd, however the Strikers defence held firm to hold off the visitor’s spirited final surge.
Taylor’s goal came on 19 minutes after an unsettled opening from both clubs; the 20 year old finishing strongly after arriving late in the box to meet Jonti Richter’s teasing cutback from the right byline.
The match ebbed back-and-forth between the thirds following the breakthrough, however pre-emptive interventions from Strikers custodian David Chambers and some solid reflex saves from Redlands’ Mitch O’Brien ensured the score remained at 1-0 at half-time.
Strikers restarted the match with renewed impetus while Redlands failed to adjust. The penalty decision followed several minutes of sustained pressure for the hosts; awarded when Greg King was felled in the goalmouth attempting to pounce on one-too-many of O’Brien's parried saves.
Captain Robinson was reliable from the spot-kick, his low strike sending O'Brien the wrong way.
Redlands counterpunched immediately as the visitors fashioned a series of set pieces without success before Macauace picked the pocket of the otherwise solid Michael Angus; the young attacker then assessed his options before unleashing a venomous long-range strike that faded into the crook of the goal.
The equaliser remained elusive deep in injury time when Chambers tipped Graham Fyfe’s freekick against the far post. The ball crossed the line in the ensuing goalmouth scramble, however it was disallowed for a foul on the prone Chambers - who required extended treatment for a head injury in the aftermath of the incident.
Admitting he was pleased to pick up the points, Brisbane Strikers coach David Large remained wary of reading too much in to the result describing the match as “a game of chess.”
“I think that tactically we got it just a little bit better than them on the night,” Large stated post-match.
“We’ve talked about how we’re very good at the back but one of my concerns is that we allow teams to get settled and put the barriers up.”
“I thought if we play some educated cross balls early – try and do what teams do to us – we can get them on the transition.”
Large heralded Taylor’s contribution in his league debut for Strikers and foresees the former Peninsula Power player as a key member of his team.
“Josh is a quality player. He was a quality player before he came to us. I’ve been trying to get him to this club for 24 months now,” Large enthused.
“He’s a young boy that’s still learning his trade but he’s doing a damn good job.”
Assistant coach Graham Harvey cited Chambers’ in-goal heroics for Strikers, describing his performance as “first-class”.
“He made some good saves there throughout the game and certainly at the end there to keep us at 2-1.”
Despite his team’s fightback Redlands’ coach Matt Chandler conceded Strikers were deserving winners. He also said he was “disappointed” in his side’s performance.
“We had a little bit of momentum for 20 minutes there but we couldn’t capitalise,” Chandler explained.
“It’s something we always try to work on - we try to be big in the last 10 minutes of games. But we didn’t perform in 70 minutes of the game and that was the disappointing thing for me.”
And while critical of his team’s performance, Chandler conceded the quality of Macauace’s strike and suggested it wouldn’t be the last such goal from his young forward this season.
“Jheison’s a very good young footballer, he’s very talented. He’s probably one of the quiet people that not many people know about but he was sensational for us last year.”
“He’s got quick feet and always scores those sorts of goals. It’s pretty typical of what he does actually.”
A small but vocal following of die-hard Redlands supporters travelled from the bayside to the inner city for the fixture and Redlands defender Graham Fyfe made sure to acknowledge their efforts.
“It’s great, it’s fantastic. I wish we had more to be honest,” Fyfe enthused.
“There was one time, I think we were two-nil down, and I was jogging back for a corner and you see them there buzzing. It really lifts you.”
Both Strikers and Redlands continue their NPL campaigns at Spencer Park next Saturday when they feature in the year's first double-header. Redlands will face Far North Queensland FC in the 5pm kick-off, while Strikers play hosts Brisbane City starting from 7:30pm.
Brisbane Strikers 2 (Taylor 19’, Robinson 69’pen)
Redlands United 1 (Macauace 79’)
Sunday, 10 March 2013 @ Perry Park, 6:00PM
Crowd: approx. 600
Brisbane Strikers: 1. David CHAMBERS, 3. Corey HOOPER, 7. Chay HEWS (17. Ryan COKELL 66’), 8. Michael ANGUS, 10. Nick ROBINSON, 11. Jonti RICHTER (14. Josh MCVEY 66’), 12. Greg KING, 16. Josh TAYLOR, 18 Matt THURTELL, 22. Jack BOXELL, 23. Andy CALLAGHAN (21. Jesse MACDONNELL 82’) - (substitutes not used: 6. Alex HENDERSON, 20. Jacob JARRET)
Redlands United: 1. Mitch O’BRIEN, 3. Michael LEE, 4. Kurt O’BRIEN (18. Todd SNOWDEN 89’), 5. Haydn EAMES, 7. Jamie SAUL (2. Adam CHANDLER 63’), 9. Jheison MACAUACE, 10. Ruben WAY, 11. Graham FYFE, 14. Nicholas DANIEL, 15. Ramone CLOSE, 16. Zak BRATTAN – (substitutes not used: 8. George BARBAROUSES, 17. Tyler STROSS, 20 Bradley STOUT)
Words: Michael Flynn (Football Queensland) / Images: Ray Gardner (Redlands United)