Pride Take The Points As Strikers Squander Early Lead

Feb 04, 2018 by

The Brisbane Strikers’ NPL Queensland premiership defence got away to the wrong kind of start when they were beaten at Perry Park last night by a resilient Western Pride outfit who came from behind to record a 2-1 win in an entertaining premiers v champions clash.

While neither side will consider themselves to have been at their fluent best in this opening game of their respective campaigns, there was plenty of attractive attacking football on display from both as Pride, after chasing shadows for the opening twenty minutes of the match, produced the more effective football over the last hour or so to edge out the home team.

Strikers, still missing perhaps three or four players who would expect to be pushing for a starting position under normal circumstances, began the game in exhilarating fashion with their passing game looking as fluent as it was in the latter stages of their 2017 campaign.

Pride were pressed deep inside their own half, chasing shadows early on as Strikers midfielders Jake McLean, Michael Lee and skipper Michael Angus combined with raiding fullbacks Hiroki Omori and Sam Knight to run proceedings.

It therefore came as little surprise when, on fourteen minutes, McLean combined neatly with Lee and Omori with one-touch passing to open up a path into Pride’s penalty area for McLean to drive a low shot past Pride goalkeeper Max Davison for the opening goal.

It was just reward for the home team after their early dominance had created chances for Lee to fire a 20-yard drive over Pride’s crossbar and centre half Greig Henslee to send a looping header from McLean’s corner kick just over the top.

The home team continued in the ascendancy for the next ten minutes with nothing else to show for it on the scoreboard before Pride, with their first venture deep into Strikers territory in the twenty-seventh minute, came roaring back into the contest.

A neat interchange of passes just outside the Strikers’ penalty area sent Pride left back Jean-Delors Tuyishime scurrying towards the byline. Tuyishime’s floated high ball across the Strikers’ goalmouth found Andrew Pengelly free beyond the back post to direct an uncontested header past Strikers goalkeeper Nathan Archbold for the equalizing goal and his first for Pride’s senior team.

It did not, however, do much to change the flow of the game, which continued to go mostly towards the visitors’ goal until the half time break. Young Strikers centre-forward Zac Maltby’s willing running helped create Strikers’ next opportunity as Pride’s defenders momentarily struggled to deal with his surging run into their penalty area and half-cleared the ball to midfielder Ryan Palmer. Palmer’s enterprising attempt to spin around and aim a left-footed shot inside the far post left the stranded Davison relieved as it passed a foot or so wide.

But that was to be the last first half chance for the home team who, as Angus hinted later, had probably not created enough scoring opportunities to capitalize on the amount of possession they had enjoyed.

If that was the case, they were left lamenting it five minutes into the second half when debutant ‘keeper Archbold undermined an otherwise solid debut for his new club with an under-hit goal kick in the fiftieth minute.

Archbold was not the first, and probably won’t be the last, Strikers goalkeeper to fall victim to the club’s preference for possession football but his errant attempted pass was seized on by Pride’s leading scorer of 2017, Dylan Wenzel-Halls. The little forward then wasted no time in taking one touch to propel the ball towards Archbold and, under no pressure, slotting his finishing shot effortlessly past the gutted goalkeeper to give Pride a lead that, up to this stage of the match, they could scarcely have claimed to deserve.

The sudden turn of good fortune appeared to put wind into Pride’s sails while sucking it out of the home team’s, and Graham Harvey’s team stepped things up to enjoy much the better of the ensuing thirty minutes or so.

Suddenly, Strikers were turning over possession frequently and finding it hard to play their way even as far as the half way line against a Pride team who pressed them into error and, with midfielder Adam Endean acting as the link man to most of their play and fullbacks Gabriel Hawash and Tuyishime getting forward more regularly, began asking some questions of Strikers’ defenders.

Wenzel-Halls tried his luck from twenty yards in the fifty-fourth minute but dragged his shot wide, Tuyishime drew a save out of Archbold a minute later with an effort from fifteen yards and Archbold was perhaps fortunate to stay on the pitch on the hour as he raced out of his area to smother another Wenzel-Halls’ chance and was penalized by referee Rebecca Durcau with a yellow card.

While Durcau presumably ruled Archbold to have handled outside his area, the yellow card left Harvey and the rest of the Pride bench enraged when they believed a red should have been the result.

Strikers fans – and probably Archbold himself – breathed a sigh of relief as the ensuing free kick came to nought but Pride continued on the front foot.

Sensing that something needed to be done to break Pride’s ascendancy, Strikers threw Trent Clulow and Denis Yongale into the fray from the bench as Palmer and Maltby came off.

It almost worked. Yongale’s physical presence, in particular, unsettled Pride’s defence on one or two occasions and, with twelve minutes remaining, his willingness to chase a through-ball when the cause appeared lost shook the ball loose from Pride’s defenders. McLean was lurking and swooped on the loose ball, driving it past a couple of defenders and left of Davison, who threw himself low across the turf to half-gather and hold at the second attempt as a Strikers attacker closed in hoping for the scraps.

The ever-dangerous Wenzel-Halls gave Strikers a few anxious moments at the other end, firing a direct free kick just wide of an upright and smashing another effort from distance a yard or two over Archbold’s crossbar, before Strikers gathered themselves for one last flurry of attacks aimed at snatching an equalizer.

Their best opportunity to do so came just two minutes before full time when, from a corner kick, McLean’s outswinging delivery found Lee climbing highest on the edge of Pride’s six-yard box only to see his header skim off his forehead and pass wide of the back post with Davison looking on as a spectator.

After that Pride saw out the remaining minutes comfortably enough to claim the three points and extend their NPL Queensland winning sequence to a remarkable eleven games, while Strikers contemplated the unfamiliar feeling of losing their opening game of the season.

“Really, I think it was a game of two halves,” said Angus after the match.

“We had the better first half and they had the better second half. In that sense it could have gone any way. Although we probably didn’t create a heap of chances in the first half, we still created some good chances and obviously we took a good one.

“We had a lot of control over the game, so that was positive. But in the second half we knew that they would come out with a different stance and a bit more aggression and once they started applying a bit more pressure their goal came from there.

“It’s something that we’ve got to take on the chin. We’ve got to forget about it pretty quickly and go on and prepare. There’s plenty of positives out of it, and we were a bit unfortunate that it’s gone the opposite way to what we would have liked.”

NPL Queensland Round 1: Brisbane Strikers FC 1 (McLean 14) v Western Pride FC 2 (Pengelly 27, Wenzel-Halls 50).

Brisbane Strikers: Nathan Archbold (gk), Greig Henslee, Michael McGowan, Michael Lee, Michael Angus (c), Jake McLean, Sam Knight, Ryan Palmer, Hiroki Omori, Sebastian Scaroni, Zachary Maltby. Subs: Denis Yongale, Trent Clulow. Coach: David Large

Western Pride: Max Davison (gk), Will McFarlane, Delors Tuyishime, Cameron Crestani, Jesse Rigby (c), Adam Endean, Nielen Brown, Joseph Duckworth, Dylan Wenzel-Halls, Gabriel Hawash, Andrew Pengelly. Subs: Jacob Minett, Fraser Hills, Salomon Lukonga. Coach: Graham Harvey

Photo: Roze Gallo

Match Reports, News

About the author

Marketing Brisbane Strikers