Strikers v Souths

Round 12 report by Mick Kugelman
Brisbane Strikers v South Melbourne

With 10 minutes left, the guy beside me dropped the customary "they're playing well but surely it can't happen again?". With only minutes remaining Knipey slipped in front of his marker and slotted what looked like the winner (and those 2 or 3 seconds of celebration were worth the admission price) but alas he was offside and then with only a minute remaining a knock down from a corner saw Trimboli take full advantage of confusion in the box and he smashed the ball home to shatter the young guns dreams of grabbing a point off the reigning champions.

The QAS debutantes (apart from a couple of nervous moments) had showed they won't have any trouble stepping up to play fulltime with the big boys whenever they do get that chance and for some of them especially Stefanuto I hope thats sooner rather than later.

Neither team dominated the match played in steamy heat though South probably had the better chances and looked a tad sharper up front, This despite Brisbane controlling the ball well (especially at the back where Gwynnie, Laybutt and Stefanuto were superb).

A storm had been predicted for the evening but failed to eventuate so some passages of play were almost farcical with players walking to survive the conditions. I kept thinking 'that guys not even running, get him off', but in later reflection realised the heat we were feeling was probably ten times worse to run around in and Kossie probably didn't have too many more options on the bench anyway.

At one point a Nick Orlic collided at full pace with the 4th official's table on the sideline and looked to be out of the game. Can't imagine how it felt to be kinghit in those sweltering conditions but he carried on ok afterwards.

Cranney was a surprise starter and copped some stick as usual from some sections of the crowd but once again played better than those will give him credit for. We threatened more down his flank (especially when he swapped at halftime). I was surprised when he was subbed but maybe the injury he's carrying was a determining factor there?

McLaren played a reasonable game and was strong on the ball but didn't receive it often enough (How different it could have been if Kasey had been there to give him some service). Tollenare didn't combine well with McLaren and it seemed Knipey would have been a better choice from the kickoff, playing wide as he did with Harris lining up beside McLaren. In fact it was Knipey's enthusiasm that turned the game Brisbane's way when he was brought on with about 20mins to go. He chased everything (as Reece did to unsettle the defence) but Knipey was able to do far more with the ball when he did get it.

Zoricic had a bad time in the middle, some good touches but some glaring mistakes which could have made the result very different. He skied 2 maybe 3 shots well over the bar in situations with ample time to steady himself and at least get the thing on target. Anyone who's watched the ABC EC coverage has no doubt heard (and is sick of) big Al raving about 'shots on target' but the strikers problem is even worse than that in that we need to find more players willing to actually have a go in the first place. Would also like to see more first time balls played at Mclaren so he can set the ball for others facing the goal. Easy to criticise sitting in the stand but isn't it always that way. To be fair, South (especially Trimboli and Curcija) missed some chances that should have been taken so even the reigning champions shouldn't be too happy with how their forwards played.

Another area for Kossie to work on will be the corner taking with far too many balls played too close to the keeper and not enough strikers fighting to make it hard for the keeper. Not to mention a lack of variation with how the corners were played. The odd short one wouldn't have gone astray.

In summary the home team played well enough to get a point but to take a positive spin on things, the young guys will learn more from such a defeat than they would have from the 0-0 draw. As Kossie said in the wail this morning, it won't take much to lift the lads after this one. Despite the heartbreaking finish, they will know they played well.

Now seven points away from the six, its a tougher ask but a careful look at the table will show that Brisbane has done very well against nearly all teams who are now in the six and there's still a bagful of games to go. I still think we can and will make it.