Mapgies-Crusaders A Challenge Ahead of Tough Cup Run: Clulow

May 11, 2018 by

Brisbane Strikers winger Trent Clulow has acknowledged his team is treading a perilous tightrope towards qualification for the FFA Cup Round of 32 – and also says this weekend’s NPL Queensland visit to Magpies-Crusaders is shaping up as an agenda-setting clash ahead of a season-defining month.

Clulow (pictured) was speaking after learning that Strikers would have to negotiate a Cup qualification path featuring away ties against the winners of Ipswich City FC v Peninsula Power before taking on the winners of Lions FC v Rochedale Rovers, should they survive the first assignment.

Strikers progressed through rounds 4 and 5 of the qualifiers with few problems as they eliminated Brisbane Premier League club Albany Creek Excelsior 3-1 and Capital League 3 outfit The Lakes FC 9-1, both away from home. But Clulow says things are about to become a whole lot tougher.

“It was never going to easy,” Clulow said of the Strikers’ remaining opponents in the Cup qualifiers.

“With only two (Brisbane) teams to go through, and a few strong sides in Brisbane this year, it was always going to be difficult getting to the Round of 32.

“On our side of the draw we’ve got three teams who have played in the Round of 32 before, so they know what it’s like and they know the excitement and the buzz of playing in it. So it’s a pretty exciting prospect.”

Clulow made it clear who he thought Strikers would play in Round 6.

“Obviously it’s either Power or Ipswich, but the stronger on paper of those teams, Power, would be a really strong test because they are flying in the FQPL,” he said.

“So it would be good to test ourselves against those guys. And if we go through there’s Rochedale, who Strikers lost to last year. It would be good to peg them back if they manage to get over Lions, but if not we need to get back over Lions after our league defeat earlier this year.

“Plus, no doubt from the Cup two years ago (when Strikers beat Lions to progress to the Round of 32), they’d be keen to get back at us for that. So it’s a pretty tasty prospect.”

Strikers have not played an FFA Cup qualifier at home since May, 2015 and their next assignment will mark their tenth away tie in their last 11 Cup games overall. According to Clulow, Strikers fans are not the only people associated with the club who are missing Perry Park.

“The run of away games is quite incredible,” Clulow said. “It does make it that touch more challenging. We’d like to have someone come to Perry Park and beat them in front of our home fans. But the positive is that, in a way, we are used to playing away. We’ve just got to prepare for it exactly the same.”

Before Strikers can focus on their next Cup challenge, there are some vital National Premier Leagues challenges awaiting them. The competition reaches its half way point with this weekend’s Round 13 games and Strikers will travel to Sologinkin Oval in Mackay to play Magpies Crusaders looking to continue a run of eight consecutive league wins to maintain their premiership defence.

With Strikers in third position on the league table and Magpies Crusaders in eleventh, the task appears on paper not to be a daunting one for Strikers. But Magpies Crusaders have not been easy to beat on their home turf and have surged away from the foot of the table in recent rounds.

Clulow said he was by no means expecting Saturday’s match to be a walk in the park.

“It’s definitely going to be tricky, there’s no two ways about it,” Clulow said.

“It’s our first big away trip this year and historically we have found it tough, away, on occasions.

“When we’ve prepared well and done things right we’ve won games but it’s very important we are aware of their results up there. They get a vocal, loyal crowd so it’s hugely important that we put the FFA Cup at the back of our minds and keep the momentum going into a few tough weeks.

“This game’s huge for how we are positioned in the league and it could have big repercussions for where we want to be at the end of the year.”

Clulow said Magpies Crusaders’ recent 5-3 win over Redlands United in Mackay, when they overcame a 3-0 deficit, should serve as a warning to Strikers that they must take the right mindset into the game.

“I believe they play a 4-4-2 formation and they break at speed. They’ve got guys that can score goals on the counter-attack and they destroyed Redlands in the second half. They’ve got guys that can score from set-pieces, so we definitely have to be on our game,” Clulow said.

Strikers fans who can’t attend the match in Mackay are reminded that Football Queensland will live stream the match on its Facebook page and on YouTube from 7.00 pm.

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