“Crunch Time” For Strikers

Jun 16, 2017 by

Brisbane Strikers captain Michael Angus says he and his teammates are steeling themselves for the first of three season-defining tests when their third-round conquerors, FNQFC Heat, come to Perry Park on Saturday.

After a one-weekend break, PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues Queensland football resumes this weekend and, for second-placed Strikers, it heralds a trio of home games in which they must play Heat (fourth), Brisbane City (sixth) and Gold Coast City (first).

According to Angus, Strikers are very much aware that the next three weeks could make or break their campaign to become the first club to win back-to-back PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland premierships.

“This is crunch time, for sure,” Angus said.

“(We’ve got) three big opposition teams who’ve been doing really well, but the biggest positive for us is the games are at home. We’ve had a really good record over the last couple of years at home and I think that works in our favour. We’ll take that when we go out on the weekend and the weeks ahead.

“But there’s definitely a feeling within the group – we all understand that the next few weeks are massive for the season. It’s now or never”.

If Strikers are to get those next few weeks away to a three-point start they must overcome a Heat team that beat them in Cairns earlier this year and have a strong record against them over four and a half seasons of PlayStation 4 NPL football. The head-to-head record between the two clubs has them on four wins apiece, with the other match drawn.

Currently six points behind Strikers on the league table, Heat are by no means among the league’s most fluent attacking outfits. Their tally of 27 goals to date is 18 less than Strikers and no better than seventh-placed Western Pride, while their top scorer is fullback Charlie Beverley.

But Heat are a combative outfit who are not easy to beat – as their effort against Strikers in Round three showed. On that occasion they conceded first, then had defensive midfielder Bronson Koppen sent off – and still managed to win the game 2-1.

Angus said Heat’s togetherness would be the toughest obstacle for Strikers to overcome on Saturday.

“They’re a really tight group of players, I think, that’s the biggest thing – with really good team morale. They use that spirit and that character and that’s the foundation for them,” Angus said.

“And they work to their strengths. They have some really effective players in good areas. We know it’s going to be a really tough game and it’s usually a physical type of game as well.

“We know what strengths they have and it’s about not letting them work towards those as best we can. A lot of their goals come from set pieces and they also score some late goals, which comes back to the character that they have and the spirit in the side”.

Angus said the experience of losing to Heat in Cairns had helped Strikers to learn some lessons – eventually.

“If you look back on it, we gave away a couple of silly fouls in some silly areas,” he said. “It wasn’t just against Heat, it was against Gold Coast away as well, where we did exactly the same thing.

“So we’ve spoken about that at great length and the squad is learning to manage the game better. Even in training sessions we’ve been looking to that as well. Now, getting into the second half of the season, I don’t think that should be an issue any more. It takes something like that to happen to then address it and understand it, and that’s what we’ve done”.

While Strikers have taken 7 points from their last three games, they had to come from behind to beat Brisbane Olympic 3-1 and in the 2-2 draw with Western Pride, before toughing out a 1-0 win in a tight contest away to Moreton Bay United.

This has fuelled suggestions they have not been in their best form. But Angus rejected that and said he took more positives than negatives out of having to grind out those results.

“There’s been times in games where we go through patches of having to graft,” Angus said.

“It’s unfortunately what you get with the type of club that Strikers is, and the type of philosophy we have – to keep the ball and control the games. As soon as you get that patch where we’re maybe not doing that people look into that a little too much, I think.

“That’s just relative to the game – it happens throughout every game. You go into patches where the other team come over the top a little bit and give it a really good push. We understand that and we’re used to that.

“I still think that in the Moreton Bay game we probably played in patches some of our best football. But at the end of the day the biggest positive is we’ve shown we can turn that (graft) into results. It’s shown the depth of character in the squad and that will only get stronger as time goes on”.

While the head-to-head record between Strikers and Heat is on a knife-edge, Heat will have to overcome some statistics that are not in their favour if they are to win on Saturday.

Their away form in 2017 is so far unconvincing, with only one win from six games, while at Perry Park they have taken only one win from their previous four attempts.

Brisbane Strikers v FNQFC Heat – Statistics

Brisbane Strikers

Last five NPL Queensland results
Moreton Bay United 0 v Strikers 1
Strikers 2 v Western Pride 2
Strikers 3 v Brisbane Olympic 1
Brisbane Roar Youth 0 v Strikers 5
Redlands United 0 v Strikers 4
(4 wins, 1 draw)

Home record in 2017: 5 wins, 0 losses, 1 draw (28 scored, 4 conceded)

Top 3 scorers:
Jeremy Stewart (10 goals from 12 games)
Greg Cheshire (8 from 12)
Michael Lee (7 from 12)

FNQFC Heat

Last five NPL Queensland results
FNQFC Heat 6 v Northern Fury 0
Gold Coast City 5 v FNQFC Heat 1
SWQ Thunder 1 v FNQFC Heat 3
FNQFC Heat 3 v Sunshine Coast FC Fire 0
Brisbane City FC 3 FNQFC Heat 1
(3 wins, 2 losses)

Away record in 2017: 1 win, 3 losses, 2 draws (7 goals scored, 13 conceded)

Top 3 scorers:
Charlie Beverley (5 goals from 10 games),
Chris O’Sullivan (4 from 9),
Chrios O’Hare, Josh Jennison and Kasper Holmbech (3 from 10, 3 from 10 and 3 from 12 respectively)

Strikers v Heat head-to-head in PS4 NPL Queensland: Strikers 4 wins, Heat 4 wins, 1 draw
At Perry Park: Strikers 2 wins, Heat 1 win, 1 draw
*All 2017 statistics obtained from the PS4 National Premier Leagues website.

PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland Round 14 – Brisbane Strikers v FNQFC Heat, Perry Park, 17 June 2017, kick-off at 6.00 pm

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