Brisbane Strikers coach Sean Lane praised the professionalism of his team after they gave Sunshine Coast FC Fire a terrible 9-0 drubbing in their rescheduled Round 6 PlayStation 4 NPL fixture at Perry Park last night.
Ten days after having to suck on lemons after watching the Strikers slip up 4-2 to a Gold Coast City team that prevailed with nine men, Lane was left purring as Strikers made short work of a Fire team who clearly are in all sorts of bother at present.
The home team had the contest well and truly won by half time, putting six goals past Fire goalkeeper Kevin Downes who, had he not made a couple of good saves, could have seen even more fly past him.
Spurred on by a domineering midfield unit in which skipper Michael Angus (pictured), youngster Ryan Palmer and the imperious Michael Lee ran amok, Strikers simply tore apart a Fire defence that seldom had a moment’s peace after former Fire players Sam Knight and Jeremy Stewart combined for the opening goal.
When Stewart slid into Fire’s six-yard box to convert Knight’s low cross the visiting team’s floodgates opened. Centre-forward Jake McLean’s defence-splitting passing and another lungbusting performance from fullback Hiroki Omori – a constant overlapping threat – added to Fire’s woes as Lee bagged a brace in the twentieth and twenty-fourth minute.
Winger Greg Cheshire opened his Strikers account in the forty-second minute before Omori chimed in with a goal in the forty-fifth and, if that was not bad enough for the visitors, they then conceded an own goal in first half stoppage time as they leaked three inside four minutes.
With maximum competition points sewn up, Lane used three substitutes in the second half as new signing Fraser Eller and Luke Marsh came on to score confidence-boosting goals and centre half Jake Marshall rounded out the 9-0 scoreline with a tap-in from Palmer’s cut-back with seven minutes remaining.
But it wasn’t the nine goals scored by his team that earned Lane’s plaudits after the match. Rather, it was the improved intensity in his team’s work off the ball.
“We’re a good team when we’ve got the ball but we’ve been average at times when the opposition has had the ball and our intensity at the ball and our desperation, particularly at set pieces, has needed some work,” Lane said.
“We couldn’t have asked for any more today from every single one of those players”.
In his half time talk, with his team out of sight in the contest, Lane said he had emphasised to them to “just be professional and keep doing what you’ve done to get into that position”.
“So that’s what we tried to do,” Lane said. “I also obviously introduced some of the young boys to give them an opportunity as well and two came on and scored goals while Finn (Lane) came on and did his bit as well.
“It was a good, solid, professional performance”.
The Strikers had a glut of possession in a contest in which the inexperienced Fire team tried diligently to keep defensive shape while chasing and harrying but could manage only the occasional forward thrust themselves, primarily through the efforts of tricky midfielder Jez Lofthouse and hard-running forward Koishi Koshimizu.
But almost ironically for a game in which Strikers won by nine goals and were rarely troubled at the back (goalkeeper Zac Speedy had only one serious save to make) Lane said he was delighted with the defensive desire shown by his team.
“We defended better from the front than we’ve defended all year,” he said. “The most pleasing thing for me was how hard everybody pressed, how high everybody pressed and how hard everybody worked.
“Forget the result and the scoreline – out of everything, that was what pleased me the most”.
The win took Strikers back into the top four, three points behind leaders Gold Coast City, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Redlands United last night.
Strikers will next face bottom team South West Queensland Thunder at Perry Park on Saturday.
PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland 2017 – Round 6
Tuesday, April 4
Brisbane Strikers FC 9 (Jeremy STEWART 12′, Michael LEE 20′ 24′, Gregory CHESHIRE 42′, Hiroki OMORI 45′, OWN GOAL 45+1′, Fraser ELLER 64′, Luke MARSH 72′, Jake MARSHALL 83′)
Sunshine Coast FC 0
Brisbane Strikers: Zac Speedy (gk), Jake Marshall, Greig Henslee, Sam Knight, Hiroki Omori, Michael Angus (c), Michael Lee, Jake McLean, Jeremy Stewart, Greg Cheshire, Ryan Palmer. Subs: Fraser Eller, Luke Marsh, Fintan Lane. Coach: Sean Lane
Sunshine Coast FC Fire: Kevin Downes (gk), Ryan Edwards, George Brown, Credo Mabiba, Blake Howden, Danyon Bell, Thomas Land, Shoichi Koshimizu, Ryan McMaster, Oliver Blackmore, Jez Lofthouse. Subs: Reece Bath, Roger Hardwicke. Coach: Roger Hardwicke.
Referee: Adam Kersey
Photo: Michele Pitman