Strikers Youth Frustrated By Ten-Man Roar

May 17, 2017 by

The Brisbane Strikers Under-20s were left rueing two points that got away when they drew 1-1 with Brisbane Roar Under-20s at Perry Park tonight.

Strikers, having gone ahead with a thirtieth minute goal to first half substitute Joshua Matcham, looked to have three points at their mercy when Roar forward Cristian Aloisi was sent off by referee Vicky Clark in the thirty-seventh minute of the contest.

But a sloppily-conceded penalty that was converted by Roar’s Callum Harris ten minutes into the second half gave Roar a lifeline that they successfully clung to as Roar goalkeeper Macklin Freke made several good saves to thwart the home side, who finished the match strongly but could not find the back of the net again.

A Roar team featuring six starters who played at least some of the game against Strikers’ senior team in losing 5-0 on Saturday, began this match with a glut of possession. But diligent defending by Strikers, later acknowledged by Strikers coach Darron Heselden, starved them of scoring opportunities and the best Roar had to show for perhaps twenty minutes of possession dominance were a couple of skied shots from midfielders Samuel Garcia-Martin and Lewis Gibson that failed to trouble Strikers goalkeeper Finn Matheson.

Strikers were forced to play mainly on the counter, which they threatened to do with success in the twelfth minute when forward Fraser Eller collected a pass from midfielder Ryan Palmer to work his way into Roar’s penalty area and let fly with a right-footed drive that forced Freke into a sharp save.

The shape of the contest began to change as the game approached the half-hour as Strikers gained a better share of ball possession through midfielders Palmer, Fintan Lane and Braedon Steele to get fullbacks Thomas Ellis and Kyle Borg more involved in their forward raids.

Ellis was the first to feature in attack, running the ball to the byline twice in as many minutes and finding forwards Fraser Eller and then Matcham with accurate final balls only to see the resulting shots fly firstly over the crossbar and then get blocked by Roar defenders.

But Strikers had more success when they worked the other flank in the thirtieth minute. Borg, who looks an impressive athlete, flew on to a pass from centre half Lachlan Weier and delivered a high cross from out wide that produced pandemonium around Roar’s six yard box before Matcham got the last touch to volley the ball into the back of the net.

With Strikers now on top both on the scoreboard and in terms of momentum on the field Roar’s hopes of getting back into the contest appeared to nosedive when Aloisi tangled with Strikers centre half Keegan Field seven minutes later. A minor altercation following Aloisi’s foul on Field appeared to have been defused by referee Clark but Aloisi must have said something unacceptable as he turned to walk away because Clark reacted by reaching into her top pocket to issue the young forward with a straight red card.

Reduced to ten men, Roar made it to the half time break without further damage but not before Freke made another sharp save low to his left to deny Fraser Eller, who shot from about fifteen yards following a three-pass movement that opened up Roar’s defence. Eller’s strike, however, didn’t have enough power behind it and Freke was able to gather it in two-handed.

Strikers opened the second half well, with another enterprising run from Borg ending with a short pass to Eller, whose shot was this time well blocked at the near post by Harris.

But Roar, despite being a man down, were still technically good enough and well-structured enough to retain possession for periods of time and occasionally work the ball forward. They did so in the fifty-fourth minute and achieved a reward when the pendulum of luck swung back in their favour.

With the ball bouncing around just inside Strikers’ penalty area as a Roar forward tried to bring it under control with his back to goal, referee Clark spotted a handball infringement from a Strikers player and blew her whistle for a penalty. Harris took the resulting spot kick and drove the ball hard and low. Matheson guessed the right way and dived to his right only to find the ball, directed just off centre, going under his body as he stretched for the corner of his goal in a moment of frustrating bad luck for the Strikers goalkeeper.

Harris, however, turned to receive the congratulations of his team mates who now had something to hang on to. And hang on they did for the thirty-four remaining minutes of a contest in which Strikers had virtually all of the remaining scoring chances.

Strikers were desperately unlucky not to restore their lead through substitute Zac Maltby in the sixty-ninth minute as Maltby chested down a cross before working the ball on to his left foot to fire in a skimming shot that flew across Freke’s goal and passed just wide of his far post.

Only a minute later as Strikers poured forward again Eller collected a pass in the centre of the field some twenty-two yards out from goal. With two Roar defenders between himself and the goal Eller tried his luck with a curling shot that beat Freke’s dive but again went just wide of the target.

And in the seventy-fourth minute Eller was left cursing his luck once more as he unleashed a twenty-five yard bullet that this time was on target but was spectacularly saved one-handed by Freke.

Freke was again his team’s saviour in the seventy-ninth minute as Strikers midfielder Sam Ball’s deflected shot steepled over the ‘keeper’s head and looked likely to drop into the top corner of his goal. But Freke showed good footwork to backpedal to a point at which he could launch himself into a leap that enabled him to make another one-handed save.

The final ten minutes were well negotiated by a Roar team who must be given some credit for working hard and playing enough effective keep-ball to stall the attacking momentum of the home team. Given that about half of the nine remaining Roar outfielders were backing up after being run ragged on Saturday their work ethic will have pleased their coach Drew Sherman.

For his part, Strikers coach Darron Heselden was not downcast with the efforts of his players despite the disappointment of seeing them let two points slip in the second half.

“We just didn’t capitalise in the second half. We had some good, clear-cut opportunities,” said Heselden.
“But they (Roar) were good. For ten men they were well organised and we had to adjust a few things.

“In the first half I thought we dominated a lot of the play. We were good on the ball and, for that matter, we were good in all four moments but once they (Roar) went a player down they sort of banked up into a 4-4-1 and we had to change our shape.

“We did that, but I thought in the second half we could have executed a bit better. If we’d taken our chances we probably would have won the game comfortably.

“Overall it was a solid performance without probably getting what we deserved tonight, I thought”.

Brisbane Strikers Under-20s: Finn Matheson (gk), Thomas Ellis, Kyle Borg, Keegan Field, Lachlan Weier, Fintan Lane, Ryan Palmer, Braedon Steel, Duncan Stewart, Sam Ball, Fraser Eller. Subs: Joshua Matcham, Zac Maltby. Coach: Darron Heselden.

Brisbane Roar FC Under-20s: Macklin Freke (gk), Samuel Garcia-Martin, Omar Sidiqi, Cristian Aloisi, Lewis Gibson, Aaron Reardon, Lloyd Cabilan, Kye Bolton, Callum Harris, Edrick Yalankunze, Jyi Oakes. Subs: Jack Easton, Oliver Duncan. Coach: Drew Sherman.

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