Strikers v Olympic

Round 17 report by David Marshall
Brisbane Strikers v Sydney Olympic

Well, the Corpse perhaps isn't moribund after all. It was a lovely Brisbane evening, mild and balmy, and we foregathered at the Caxton Street Yuppy Palace which was almost deserted and certainly there were no other STRIKERS supporters in evidence at six o'clock. A friend stationed in Munich (and he says he does get up to date info from the club home page - must admit I haven't had a look recently) joined us resplendent in a Munich 1858 shirt with "Zelic" emblazened on the back. He attends most home games and says Ned is going very well and absolutely essential to the defence of the club now third in the Bundesliga. Aloisi is on the bench and mid priced tickets for the Olympikstadion are about $45.

Walking down Caxton St at ten to kick off, the grandstand was showing more empty seats than full and the crowd was eventually announced at 4110. This, if correct, seems to be pretty well the standard hard core attendees and somewhat disappointing considering the team's recent form. At least you can't call us glory hunters!

No-one was amazed when the game was preceded by fireworks (we had some bonus ones in the distance from South Bank later) and then two little girls, IMHO without much future in the caper, sang that "Advance" song. It had a strangely suppressant effect on the crowd. We had a couple of Oz flags to hold aloft as we sang, but, in the end, we felt so isolated and holding them seemed almost inappropriate. Tony M dropped his end of mine and I was quite comfortable lowering mine - strange, really, in view of the occassion.

The game started well with the young STRIKERS buzzing, making intelligent runs and getting behind the defence several times (BTW, didn't notice Marconi doing that to us on the telly last Sunday) and then Olympic absolutely crowded the mid field. Every time we had the ball there seemed to be three defenders around and all passing avenues covered. So the pattern for a lot of the time was STRIKERS in possession with nowhere to go, so not all that exciting to watch if you are a goal mouth action lover. Olympic did make a couple of breakthroughs and Clint Bolton (who generally continued his recent improvement) parried quite brilliantly. Otherwise the visitors were reduced to several futile long rangers which were never going to be a problem. Just before the break Harris nodded in direct from a corner from Kasy W and we held a barely deserved half time lead.

In the second half the STRIKERS looked a lot better, it was as if Olympic were tiring. In particular, Des Hughes and Stuart McLaren were penetrating better. Kasey W is adapting better to his more advanced role and did some lovely things as usual. Gwynnie was, well, Gwynnie - Mr Reliable and Mr Sensible. His positional play and timing are a joy to behold. The Mad Bull could not prevent himself from back chatting and was duly (and unnecessarily) booked; but the main source of satisfaction lies in the great young brigade - Davidson, Stefannuto, Srhoj and eventually North who all contributed well. At one stage there were nine Queenslanders on the park (possibly nine and a half as, I understand, MvLaren came here when quite young) with Zorro the only exception. The Qld Academy is doing something right.

Knipey, a great crowd favourite, came on towards the end and zipped about at great speed to give the Olympic defence some more to think about. Eventually a move up the left resulted in a sharp cross being deflected in by Tullamarine and we felt safe. A minute later the same player nodded a weak defensive header across the STRIKERS' box, Cardozo scored, and it was 2 - 1. We all were worried about the last minute syndrome striking again, but it did not and so we had 3 of the 6 points Kossie wanted from the next four games and looked quite definite finals material at last.