Strikers v Wolves

Round 20 report by David Marshall
Brisbane Strikers v Wollongong Wolves

Well, it looks like the STRIKERS are to be victims of Mad Bull Disease, as Nick Meridith (or the ref, depending on your bias) pretty well snuffed out the weak flame of hope of reaching the finals that was stuttering before the game tonight.

What started as a very promising night, with an actual queue of punters at the gate, and more cars in the park than at previous Ballymore games, and not a cloud in the sky, continued on the park.... for a while anyway.

Wollongong showed early why they are top of the table, and scored after about 5 minutes after we lost a ball in the mid field. They move very well off the ball, and could easily have had two but for Baldock and the post keeping the ball out. Poor Corey was going through a horror soap ball routine which was, unfortunately, a portent of things to come.

Gradually the STRIKERS began to assert some mid field pressure which paid off when Meridith latched onto a keeper error and made it 1-1. Quite soon Peter Bulyan closed down his opposing back, received a lucky rebound and found himself with a clear run on goal, and he calmly made it 2-1. We were watching Kossie's Kids playing as well as they have to date and as well as I have been predicting they will for a while now. The Mad Bull was playing and active but restrained role and making some great cross field switches to the right wing. He really did seem to be keeping his nose clean for once. Then, after what looked a routine challenge for a header near the half way line, Morsley went down and the red card was up in the air like a rat up a rafter. The character of the game changed at once from a thrilling and skillful end to end attacking spectacle to a bunch of young lads desperately trying to hang on. This, with some luck, they managed to do until half time. There was a foreboding in the air during the break.

The defence held out for 15 second half minutes or so before Baldock made the first of two awful errors. A low and angled shot from distance on the left bounced out of his arms to present a gift to the Gong and the writing was well and truly on the wall. Almost from the kick off there was a break a long range, admittedly powerful, shot from outside the box and young Corey failed to get down in time and the ball skidded under his body into the net. The STRIKERS toiled manfully to pull it back, but another error , with the centre half misjudging a long lob and allowing it to pass over his head to present the Wolves' striker with a sitter, and it was 2-4 and match, and probably season, over for the STRIKERS.

So we let in 3 probably avoidable goals and conceded on of the same ilk. It could have been 1-1 I suppose, but it bloody well wasn't. The crowd got on the ref's back, but I felt, that unless he erred in sending the Bull off, he was not to blame. Wolves would have been a handful with eleven men, never mind ten.

Nick meredith has this season started 14 games for 6 yellow and 1 red card. Some players have a reputation which contributes to their card count, and he is one such. Nevertheless, I feel really cross with him tonight, because his dismissal left us with a poor spectacle, no points and me with a sad heart.

Fernando Rech is an admirable pro. 2-4 down, in about the 89th minute, he took a ball in our penalty area, played a one two and was up and off and into the opposing half for the return pass when lots of the younger lads were clearly knackered. What a heart! A great man with much skill and a joy to behold.

For reasons known to themselves a large group of our more vocal supporters chose the hill over the stand. They were only just audible from where I was, and this left those in the stand reduced to the the old "STRIKERS" clap, clap routine and not a decent song all night. Perhaps we'll get it right one day.

Over all, I couldn't help thinking "We was robbed". Not so much of a victory, but of a decent game of football which started with so much promise, but petered out into doom and gloom.