Strikers v Souths

Round 21 report by David Marshall
Brisbane Strikers v South Melbourne

Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays, 6 o'clock and 7 o'clock. Not very easy for the casual football supporter to know when the STRIKERS home games are likely to be on here in Brisbane, especially as the local press tend to keep things quiet and are often actually silent. As Steve reported in the Free Kick, on the match day preview of our last home game in the local daily read "The Brisbane Strikers play Sydney United at Ballymore today", and that was it! As Steve commented, imagine how fans of the Broncos, Bullets, Bulls or Reds would react to this kind of neglect. We are well in the mire with the print media unfortunately.

Frank Farina was in town to support the continued inclusion of a Brisbane team ("There's only one team in Brisbane!") and I did see a 10 second grab in the customary last spot on Aunty's news. To be fair, there was little piece in the Wail too yesterday. Due to the irregular match day I expected there to be vary small crowd to attend, even though we were playing the league leaders (the nature of the opposition seems to have very little bearing on attendances in Brisbane), and I was correct. It may have been our smallest crowd ever. We had had our usual wet day, but the evening was quite fair and cool - just about perfect for football on that excellent surface. The Banana Army was down to about 20 of the hard core (can a banana have a hard core?), but started all in one place with drum accompaniment, and the game got underway as it always seems to, 5 minutes late. From the start it was high quality, end to end and open football. FF was there and, no doubt players were glad of the chance to show him their skills. Kossie's Kiddies were matching the smooth flowing Souths very well, and before the visitors realized they were in a real game, Fernando scored after a nice break away one two, and the STRIKERS were one up. We were pleased!

To there credit, South Melbourne began to play some very nice stuff, great space making and movement off the ball, especially up their left flank. Eventually, a cross from that side dropped just behind the keeper and last defender only a metre or so wide of the far post and was nicely squeezed in by Lazanofski for the equalizer. It seemed no time before another left sided attack ended with a very neat pull back to Trimboli unmarked just in the box - 1-2. Despite this, the STRIKERS lifted their game and we our vocal support, especially telling Petkocic that we think his brother's, and he's sh*t, and praising the skills of Fernando, who had a tireless and dominant midfield game. I remember thinking that Franky might be wishing he could call him into his squad for the Coffs Harbour games.

Just before half time, with the game buzzing and our involvement intense, we were delivered a very cold shower message that a complaint had been made by a South Melbourne fan about our drum! I gather, not so much about the noise (we had been warned at the start of the Ballymore experience that any complaint ant it would be muffled), but because security had knocked off their horns, so it wasn't fair. To be honest, I only heard any identifiable away support just after kick off, but did see a few Souths shirts before the match. This had a very quietening effect, and I must shamefully confess, sent me into a petulant sulk for quite some time. At the time, I was upset that the complaint of am away supporter was given such import. In retrospect, I think I grasp that any complaint had to be acted on, regardless of its source. Strangley, if the objection was to the unfair advantage of our having a drum and our visitors being rendered horn free, we were given permission to take and use the drum on the hill. Thus our already small support was once again split. Some to each end of the ground and some remaining where we started.

Half time came and it remained 1-2.

It took me a lot longer to rekindle my enthusiasm than it did the STRIKERS for the fray in the second half. The commitment of this team is very impressive, and Kossie (who has been criticized a lot) must take much credit, I believe. The defence and midfield harried and hassled, contesting everything, and Souths did not like it. I thought they became a little petulant and began to go down far too easily as the half wore on. The one thing we lacked was that last ball to a player in a scoring position. Time and again, we would earn possession, move fluidly (often taking our time) into the last third, only to see a poorly directed or overhit ball lead to nothing. Maybe Souths good defence should be given credit too.

Eventually pressure paid off as Harris scored and we drew level. This lead to a nail biting last ten minutes as Souths spurned quite a few chances by wide shooting, our back four worked their socks off and Corey Corey Hallelujah did some very impressive things, With only about 5 minutes to Bulyan scored a goal worht gold and the small crowd made a futile effort to raise the Ballymore roof.

There seemed endless injury time, before Mr Breeze (who had a gusty game, I thought) blew it up and we had beaten the top side, earned three points and leapt, well, one place up the table. This team MUST be in the comp next season, or Australia will miss seeing a quality combination develop and mature into something quite special.