“It Was A Little Interesting”: Clulow On Strikers’ Great Escape

Mar 16, 2015 by

Twenty-four hours after playing a lead role in Brisbane Strikers’ improbable 3-2 victory over Western Pride on Saturday, attacking midfielder Trent Clulow was still struggling to get his head around his team’s great escape.

With two minutes of regulation time remaining Strikers were 2-1 down and staring defeat in the face, despite having created enough chances to have won three games.  But only minutes later, courtesy of two brilliantly-taken goals from substitutes Scot Coulson and Fraser Hills, they miraculously had all three points.

Clulow admitted the Strikers’ dressing room at full time was almost in a state of denial.

“It was a little interesting,” said Clulow, with admirable understatement last night.

“A couple of the boys mentioned that it sort of didn’t really feel like a win, because for a game that spends ninety-five minutes, for it to go from a loss to a win in the space of the last four minutes – it took a bit of time to sink in.

“There definitely was a bit of a feeling of relief.  From my perspective, I feel that across the whole game it was deserved.  But at the same time I think there was a little bit of honesty with the fact that, in a game like that, it didn’t have to come down to that for us to win.  We think that we shouldn’t be in those situations”.

In the particular case of Saturday night this was probably a fair observation.  In terms of time spent on the ball and the number of chances created by each side, Strikers were well and truly in the ascendancy and could easily have been five or six goals to the good by half time.

But instead they conceded from one of the very few attacks Pride mounted in the first stanza and had Clulow’s  spectacular twenty-sixth minute dipping volley to thank for having them 1-1 on the scoreboard at the break.

“Jonti (Richter) had received the ball and had cut inside and at that point I was just standing at the edge of the box”, Clulow recalled of the moment he took his scoring opportunity.

“I guess it’s just popped up quite nicely for a volley and I knew that the goalkeeper had come off his line for that initial save from Jonti.  So I just tried to push it over his head, and for it to duck under the bar, and luckily it came off nicely.  I’d had a couple of chances so far, so it was an awesome feeling to finally put one in”.

But the celebrations (pictured) upon Clulow scoring his first goal for his new club were soon tempered by Richter’s painful exit from the field minutes afterward.  Several more unconverted scoring opportunities later, the Strikers went into their dressing room for a half time break that threatened to plunge them into a whirlpool of emotional distress.

“We all saw Jonti with the physio on the bench, and in quite a bit of pain, and it didn’t take long for everyone to realize that it was potentially quite a serious injury”, Clulow said.

“It was very disappointing.  He’s been quite influential for us, certainly this year with me there as a minimum, and on the back of a couple of other key injuries it was a bit of a reality check for the boys.  That, and conceding the (second) goal quite early, and having that lingering in the back of our minds probably did play a bit there in the second half”.

Despite the setback and the realization that things just weren’t going for the home team, Clulow said he never had any doubts they could fight their way back into the contest even though they left it late.

“We knew from the first half that we had three or four (goals) in us – we just had to take our chances”, he said.  “In the second half, though, we weren’t as good and as fluent as the first.  So the longer the game went on it sort of did feel like it was going to be tougher for us.

“But just like Redlands did to us in the last stroke of the game, we knew that you only need one chance to score – and we created two good opportunities”.

It was the second successive week Strikers had finished strongly to overturn a deficit.  Clulow said he thought a sense of frustration was helping them to produce barnstorming finishes.

“’We do feel like we have underachieved a little”, he said.   “I think we feel that we could have taken more of our chances and especially against (Brisbane) City and again last night, we know that we can win, and feel that we deserve to win, so we’ve got that sort of determination to keep kicking on “.

Photo: Steven Gibson – (and there are plenty more of a memorable match available where that came from at http://www.stevengibsonphoto.com/events)

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