Changes Ahead For Redlands Fixture As Strikers Set Course For Season Run-In

Jul 13, 2018 by

Changes in personnel, improved defensive diligence and a desire to put on a better display in front of their home fans are some of the factors Brisbane Strikers coach Owen Baker hopes will fire his team to a much-needed win over Redlands United at Perry Park on Saturday.

Consecutive slip-ups to Cairns FC and Brisbane Roar FC Youth have left Strikers’ NPL Queensland finals hopes hanging by a thread. Baker’s team currently occupies fifth position on the table, eight points behind fourth-placed Western Pride in the chase for a finals berth.

While the defending premiers have not given up hope of closing that eight points gap, Baker and his players know they must make every post a winner from now on.

“The boys are disappointed with our recent results, but at training this week there’s been a decent determination to try and turn those performances around and turn performances into results,” Baker said last night.

“We still feel that with the games we have left there’s something to get out of this season, but we know we have to turn our performances around, and give our supporters some performances they should be proud of in the next seven games.”

Baker foreshadowed some changes to his starting eleven this weekend in a bid to lift the enthusiasm levels in the team.

“Greg Cheshire (pictured) is coming back from injury and Ryan Palmer will probably come into the starting lineup,” Baker said. “Braedon Steel last week played against Brisbane Roar and was man of the match, and he’ll definitely feature again this weekend. So there’ll be a couple of changes because we need a new type of energy in the team to get us through the coming games”

Baker also said the bitter memories of losing 5-3 to Cairns FC in their Strikers’ previous home game should provide motivation for his players when they take the field against Redlands.

“There’s always pressure and expectation when we’re playing at Perry Park and it should be pressure that we welcome,” he said.

“We obviously have bad memories of that day and I’m sure the boys won’t want to experience something like that again. We’ve tried to iron out those mistakes in our game and prepare as best we can for this weekend.”

Baker said his team had in recent weeks been successful in breaking the goals drought that affected their performances throughout May. But, while doing so, a problem that had affected them at the start of the season – a propensity to leak soft goals – had returned and it was this that now required attention.

“We’ve had a lot of teams score first against us this year, so if we can improve that then it should serve as a platform to go on and win a game of football,” Baker said. “That’s certainly a focus that we’ve been talking about”.

One player Baker will not be able to call upon to face the Red Devils is skipper Michael Angus, who will be serving out a suspension. Baker admitted the loss of Angus was a blow, but said he had enough other players with leadership qualities within the squad to compensate and help the younger players to get through the challenge presented by a resurgent Redlands team that has lifted itself away from the relegation zone with a burst of goals in recent games.

Over the past fortnight they have notched a 6-2 win over relegation-haunted Sunshine Coast FC Fire before last week’s topsy-turvy 5-5 draw with Brisbane City in which new signing Uche Heruome and Japanese striker Shuto Kuboyama scored all five goals between them.

“We obviously have noticed that Redlands have been scoring and had a look at where their goals have been coming from and it’s something we definitely need to be aware of. Redlands are a team that have always had goals in them over the course of the NPL,” Baker said.

“Heruome is a strong, physical player who likes to play ‘off the shoulder’ and get in behind and they’ve got a few players who win second balls. We know Redlands always attack in good numbers, so we are going to have to defend strong in the first and second phase and try to get the ball ourselves and get the ball forward as quickly as we can as well.”

Despite Angus not being eligible to play in the match, Strikers are looking forward to using the occasion to recognise his 200-game contribution to the club. A significant presentation will be made, with the player’s family in attendance and junior footballers from his skills acquisition squads forming a guard of honour that will recognise not only Angus’s rare achievement of playing 200 games for the senior team since joining Strikers in 2010, but also his contribution as a coach of junior Strikers footballers in recent seasons.

NPL Queensland Round 21: Brisbane Strikers FC v Redlands United FC, Perry Park, Saturday 14 July, 6.00 pm

Photo: Albert Perez

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