Brisbane v Perth

Round 3 Match report by Wade Hart
Brisbane Strikers v Perth Glory

In another game of two halves, the Strikers suffered their second home loss of the season, and their proud record of a once-impenetrable home ground advantage at Suncorp Stadium appears shaky.

Despite a fine and hot day, the clouds rolled-in in the late afternoon and a strong breeze affected conditions at ground level.

But the heat and wind did not take away from Perths fast and furious start to the game, the same tactic they used to upset the Strikers when they defeated us 5-1 at Suncorp Stadium last season. Glory coach, Gary Marocchi, clearly did not want his players to give the Strikers any time on the ball and Perth Glory were in there first most of the time in the first half.

This attacking approach was reflected in the shots at goal statistic with Perth recording nine, as opposed to three for the Strikers, with the Strikers unable to penetrate the Perth defence. On the other hand, Perth made many raids into the Strikers box with the defence, depleted by the absence of the injured Glenn Gwynne, being frequently tested. The goal came in the 36th minute with a well-taken shot from inside the box by Bobby Despotovski.

Unfortunately, we also lost Nick Meredith to an ankle injury mid-way through the first half, and early indications are he will be out until at least the 1 November game.

The second half was a completely different story.

The Strikers came out firing as is becoming regularly the case after an ordinary start managing fourteen shots at goal compared with three for Perth Glory. Brisbane also dominated the corners.

However, as Frank would say you cant win games if you dont score goals, and the Strikers were unable to convert any of their many chances. It went oh-so-close on a number of occasions, including a header from veteran Rod Brown who was brought on in place of Sean Cranney at the beginning of the second half.

The very vocal crowd were on the edge of their seats with the many fast, attacking forays made by the Strikers, and at least an equaliser seemed inevitable (and, to be honest, deserved).

Brownies inclusion up-front, with Harper dropping into a position behind the strikers, gave Brisbane more options and he always appeared threatening if he had the ball. Frank turned on his usual bouts of brilliance and excitement but, in his anxiety to score, reverted in exasperation to the wayward, blasting ways of his youth. Nonetheless, Frank and Brownie are a good combination who still provide some of the best firepower up-front of any combination in the national league.

Jeromy Harris continues to impress with his form and fitness this season. He provides plenty of power and pace in the midfield and has the ability both to win the ball and run with it. He will be a good combination with Kasey Wehrman when he returns to the Strikers line-up after his long lay-off from injury. Kasey will provide another ball-winner in midfield and improved penetration.

Steve Laybutt was named Strikers man-of-the-match. He had a strong game in defence and also contributed to attack. He needs some finishing touches to his crossing ability to round-out his skills.

Two home games and two losses were once an unthinkable for the Brisbane Strikers. No doubt Frank will be doing a lot of hard thinking for next Fridays away game against Sydney United and the next home game on 1 November, against the unbeaten and wealthy new kids on the block, Carlton.

If the Strikers can manage to play for 90 minutes like they did for 45 minutes against Perth, theyre better than any of the teams theyve met so far into the fledgling 1997-98 season.

Starting 11: Bolton; Williams; Meredith; Farina; S Cranney; T Cranney;Battistin; Brayshaw; Harris; Laybutt, Harper.

Substitutes: Hews (Meredith, 22m); Brown (S Cranney, 46m); Bell (Battistin, 65m)