Brisbane v Marconi

Round 1 report by John Croft
Brisbane Strikers v Marconi Fairfield

This was an evening of highs and lows - but mostly highs and very enjoyable ones at that. First off - The Irish Connection was shut and I had to suffer severe withdrawal symptoms supping at The Yuppie Caxton. Still the compensation was meeting up with family Forza - good to meet you Fred - might get down to Sydney one day. Being there at 5 o'clock, I was surprised to see the number of cars filling the carparks and side streets. Seeing the ground looked empty I assume it must have been one hell of a wedding reception at Gambaros. Shortly after 6 we headed off to the ground.

The omens looked good - a steady stream of people heading in the right direction. Now was the time to forget the trials and tribulations of the off-season and the debacle of the socceroo games. There was a positive buzz in the concourse and bar. There was also a great crowd of kids clamouring to sign up for the junior strikers - I don't think the staff working on the counter were expecting such a rush!

Thor arrived by Channel 7 helicopter - the kids loved that one and pre-match 'entertainment' was supplied by cheergirls(arghhhhhhh), but much appreciated by Forza - I'm sure ;-). After a period of shoe-shuffling (yep, the National Anthem - why oh why do they persist in playing that?) the match got underway.

The Strikers looked sharp and Marconi, well they looked like a team coached by Frank! Comments around me included - god, we're stringing a few passes together, hey he took the ball to the byline (not done once all last season!), not a bad cross that and so on. There was a real positive vibe. When the goal (Harris) came it was not unexpected - Marconi had been under pressure since the start of the game. The equaliser had all the hallmarks of The Strikers last season - an unnecessary defensive cockup, a weak shot and a classic fumble by Clint - from where we were sitting it looked like it went through his legs! Was this to be a repeat of last year - a promising start, plenty of opportunities and then gift the opposition? However, this year we have Kasey back. Dominant in midfield and with the ability to take on players at will - Sean Cranney please note, you are supposed to beat the man, take the ball past him and head off towards the opposition's goal! Nik Meredith was being pretty useful and Harps was beginning to win the crowd over with his efforts. Only Steve Laybutt looked out of sorts and uncomfortable on the ball. Marconi survived two near misses - their keeper pulling off a wonderful save from Harper. Longo should have been sent off for an incredibly late tackle but escaped with a yellow. The 2nd goal was a beauty - when did we last score from a corner, when did we last score 2 goals at home? Were Marconi the Brisbane Strikers in disguise? At half-time the bar area was buzzing. Were we really looking good or were Marconi just plain crap?

The 2nd half continued with the game flowing from end to end. We could have had a few more goals before the penalty taken by Kasey put us 3 up. The celebration in front of Frank was most enjoyable to watch. The anti-Frank feeling may not have been vocalised but he had very few sympathisers around where we were sitting. What should have been a very comfortable final 15 minutes was made much less so by another Clint aberration. Clint - the idea is to stop the ball going into the net - not to pick it out of the net!! A Marconi player even tried to chip Clint from about 40 yards out - it's obviously well known that Clint loves his chips. After an unbelievable number of free-kicks awarded to Marconi (and I'm really not sure why) the final whistle. It was an entertaining game and one that is likely to whet the fans' appetites. The score could easily have been 5-0 but Clint is Clint. Can we get into the play-offs - yes we can but we need to tighten the defence and that starts with, yep, you've guessed it, Clint.