The Brisbane Strikers Under-19s produced a performance right out of the top drawer tonight in ruthlessly disposing of the current State Youth League Southern Division leaders, Logan Strikers, 7-1 at Meakin Park.
Logan Strikers coach Dave Stewart, after watching the Brisbane boys produce two distinctly different halves in going down 2-1 to Sunshine Coast Fire at Perry Park on Saturday, predicted that his team would ‘cop the backlash’ from a Brisbane team he expected to be grumpy with its form. And he was proved absolutely right as the team that has coughed and spluttered its way to thirteen points from ten previous games suddenly sprang to life with a vengeance.
It was certainly not that the Logan Strikers played poorly tonight. Far from it – they produced plenty of good football of their own and contributed plenty to be admired in a fast-paced and skilful exhibition of football. But they were simply blown away by a team which finally played up to the potential they have shown only glimpses of so far this season.
The opening fifteen minutes of football, although scoreless, were a pleasure to watch as both teams settled into a rhythm of moving the ball rapidly and often, combining well in all parts of the pitch as the game went from end to end. But the Brisbane boys always looked as if they were the team who really meant business, and Logan goalkeeper Jacob Jarratt had to make a couple of good saves before Brisbane eventually broke through in the twentieth minute by utilising what, to that stage of the game, had been their most likely outlet in Kenny Vo, playing wide on the right. Vo had caused the Logan defence problems on two or three occasions already, but when he swung in another cross from the right and Jarratt and a defender got their wires crossed as the ball bounced between them, Scot Coulson accepted the invitation to lunge forward and head the ball past Jarratt and high into the top right corner of his goal.
A similar episode of confusion between defenders at the other end almost led to an equaliser for Logan, but Yousuf Sheriff’s rushed finish saw the ball loop over Brisbane goalkeeper Willem Rockett and on to the roof of his net. A deflected shot from Chris Maher then produced an outstanding save down low to his right from Rockett before Brisbane centre forward Jake Harvey struck twice within a couple of minutes of the half time break to give his side a 3-0 lead. Having shot tamely straight at Jarratt from close range in the forty-second minute, Harvey atoned with a powerful shot from twenty yards a minute later, and then was on hand to tuck home the scraps in the forty-fifth minute after Jarratt had palmed away a shot from Vo.
Although 3-0 down, Logan began the second half with intensity, creating a couple of half chances and grabbing the upper hand much to the concern of Brisbane coach Martin Large, who was heard bellowing at his charges to “switch on” as he perhaps contemplated another second half fade-out by his team. He needn’t have worried, because they were to be four goals to the good by the hour. Attacking down their right flank, Vo elected to turn and play the ball back up the line to fullback Jesse McDonnell, who showed great vision to immediately stab the ball forward twenty yards to dissect the Logan defence for Harvey to run on to it and power a shot past Jarratt from close range at his near post.
Both fullbacks for Brisbane were having an outstanding game, and soon Delors Tuyishiime, playing on the left side of the Brisbane defence, was in attacking action to equally good effect as McDonnell, supplying the last pass for Coulson to close in on goal unattended and despatch a low shot past the exposed Jarratt to make it 5-0 to Brisbane.
Jarratt then pulled off a brilliant diving save to his left to deny Coulson a hat trick after substitute Shane Lubbe had used his blistering pace down the left side of the Brisbane attack to get to the by-line and cut a pass back for Coulson.
As both teams used their substitutes benches, Coulson’s younger brother Zac came on for Logan and conjured up an inspired through ball to play another substitute, Kayden Oakes, in behind the Brisbane defence for a clear sight of goal. Oakes went low to Rockett’s left with his attempted finish and, although Rockett did well to save from close range, Sherrif was on hand to bundle in the rebound to score the only goal of the night for Logan with fifteen minutes remaining.
Brisbane, however, were not finished and were determined to play out the entire ninety minutes. A delicately weighted through ball, played by Nathan Ryland with the outside of his right foot, presented Scot Coulson with a one-on-one opportunity against Jarratt that Coulson won with a clinical finish. Both Jarratt and Rockett performed heroics to deny Lubbe and Sheriff respectively in one-on-one situations, before the scoring was completed by Brisbane centre half Luke Watson when he jumped high at the back post to head home a corner kick from Scot Coulson.
Logan coach Stewart repeated his observation of Saturday when asked after the match how his table-topping team could have found themselves on the wrong end of such a lopsided scoreline.
“I think we got a backlash from the weekend, really”, Stewart said. “One or two things we tried tonight probably haven’t worked, as well, but (although) I’ve come off with a 7-1 defeat I can take a lot of pluses. I got forty-five minutes into Kane Varga, who hasn’t played two-and-a-half months, I got forty-five into Oakes, who hasn’t played for three weeks properly after coming back from injury, and Weightman’s played his first game for three months and I’ve got another fifteen-year-old (Zac Coulson) in midfield.
“You know, sometimes you have to take your medicine and go home and learn about that. We said at half time that we had created as many chances, but they (Brisbane) were prolific tonight. If they can play like that, then they should play like it every week.
“It’s come at the wrong time for us, but take nothing away from them tonight, they finished superbly and they were full of running – their pace and their movement – I’ve watched most of their games and, honestly, I haven’t seen that in them. It’s a pity the boss (head coach David Large, who was training the senior team) isn’t here to see”!
Brisbane coach Martin Large saw things similarly.
“You definitely saw Jeckyll and Hyde on Saturday, but we ‘turned up’ tonight and that was the difference”, Large said. “We’ve always been capable of putting in these performances – always – and it’s been a bit of a lottery every weekend, and that’s been the frustrating part about it.
“We know that the boys are can play like this, we know that they are capable of doing it, it’s just that we don’t know which one is going to turn up – Jeckyll or Hyde – and if it’s Jeckyll that turned up tonight, I hope it is Jeckyll that turns up every week”.