Concentration, Communication Paid Off: Draper

Mar 31, 2015 by

Improved concentration and communication were the keys to Brisbane Strikers’ first PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues shut-out of the season against FNQFC Heat at Barlow Park on Saturday, according to Strikers centre-half Cameron Draper.

Heat had scored six goals against Brisbane City in the previous round, while Strikers had conceded at least one goal in their three previous matches.  But Heat’s best endeavours were rendered fruitless in Cairns by a Strikers team that had the better of the first half to lead 1-0 before producing a backs-to-the-wall second half performance to close out victory.

“As a team this year we have prided ourselves on wanting to be a very strong defensive side”, said Draper (pictured).

“I think in the first few games of the season, while we’ve done that to a large degree, there’s been lapses of concentration at certain points where we’ve conceded early goals, soft goals”.

“The idea of Saturday’s game was to try and concentrate more for longer periods of the game and, with that, was communication as well.  That’s something we’ve been working on a lot more across the back four and with Keenan (Duimpies) and ‘Gus (Michael Angus) in front of us, particularly, there was a lot more chat”.

Draper said defence-focused communication within the current Strikers team was a shared responsibility, rather than relying on one or two leaders.

“In the past there’s probably been in teams one or two players who are key communicators, but I think this year we all are trying to do that job and we are getting better at it”, he said.

“It’s not just one person – you’ve got ‘Turners” (goalkeeper Michael Turnbull) as well, who’s constantly chatting during the game, which makes a big difference”.

Draper also said that providing midfielders Duimpies and Angus with good information proved pitoval on Saturday when the going got tough against the home team.

“The guys at the back are critically important for that communication for the guys in front”, Draper said.

“With Keenan sitting in front of the back four, screening, it was vital to kind of be chatting in his ear when he’s got (Heat’s) Alex Smith coming off ,and players making diagonal runs and getting into pockets of space.  The key was to kind of say ‘mate, this is what’s going on and look left, look right’.  I think that’s where we snuffed out a lot of those interceptions and Keenan particularly won a lot of those loose balls”.

Draper said the Heat players became frustrated at their inability to penetrate, particularly after they fell behind to Jheison Macuace’s twenty-seventh minute goal.

“You could sense it was going to be a difficult task for them”, Draper said.

“They were starting to pick at each other and that’s always a good sign.  It’s a good sign and a good feeling to know that you’re dictating terms and it’s going to be hard for them to get back into it.  As a team, if you get frustrated it just makes that task even more challenging”.

Four games into the Strikers’ season, Draper said he was pleased with the centre-halves combination he was forming with Greig Henslee who was displaying qualities he hoped to incorporate into his own game.

“Greig has an enormous reputation in every team that he’s played in and every competition”, Draper said.

“He came to the club as one of the form defenders in Queensland in recent times and he’s immense.  You can see it in his concentration during a game, his desperation.  He makes crucial tackles and he’s always in the game.  It’s good to play next to him – you pick up a lot of things as you learn from him in training and in the game.  And his work ethic is next to none – it’s brilliant – and his attitude as well is spot-on”.

Draper agreed that Henslee’s tenacity was a good foil for his own game which, as anyone who has watched him closely will attest, is built on steadiness and calm assurance on the ball.

“You get that toughness and meanness from him (Henslee) in games”, said Draper.

“It’s one of his great strengths as a player.  Hopefully I’ll pick up that characteristic from him as the year progresses and I’ll bring some of that into my game as well”.

Photo: Steven Gibson (

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