Spirit On Repeat Order For Strikers In Derby

Jul 27, 2018 by

Brisbane Strikers coach Owen Baker says his team’s “spirited” performance in beating Cairns FC in Cairns last weekend is cause for optimism as they prepare for Saturday’s derby clash with Brisbane City at Spencer Park.
Strikers will be aiming for their third win in succession when they visit City, who look likely to present another stern test for Baker’s resurgent outfit.

“I think it was a very spirited performance against Cairns,” said Baker this week of his team’s last start 2-0 win.

“There were parts of the game where Cairns had their possession, and obviously after conceding five goals to them (only three weeks previous) we certainly wanted to put that right. So there was an extra emphasis on being tight at the back.

“We certainly had to scramble at times, and there was one big chance before half time where luck was on our side – it could have quite easily gone in when it hit a post – but we created a few chances ourselves and if we were guilty of anything, it was probably not being clinical enough.

“So, although at times they had their fair share of possession, it didn’t feel like they were going to score. (Goalkeeper) Tomi Mesaric didn’t actually have too much to do, whereas two weeks before it felt like every time Cairns went forward they were going to score.

“From that sense it was really pleasing, because you could see the boys had to work really, really hard for it. It’s a tough place to go, up there, and it was a great performance in the end.”

Baker acknowledged his team will need to reproduce the defensive grit they showed in Cairns against a City team that is one of the most dangerous attacking outfits in the league. City’s past three games have yielded fourteen goals as they despatched Gold Coast United 5-2 and Sunshine Coast Fire 4-0 and drew 5-5 with Redlands United.

A forward line in which James Meyer and Adam Edgar have been scoring regularly has been backed up by goals from midfielders and wide players Sam Sibatuara, Preston Hugo and Alex Fiechtner and Baker said City’s array of attacking weapons will require a different approach if his team is to blunt them.

“They’ll be confident coming into the game, and you’ve seen lots of Brisbane City versus Brisbane Strikers games – they are always very fiercely contested so we know it is going to be a difficult game,” Baker said.

“We can take a lot of confidence out of last week’s defensive performance because, before that, Cairns were scoring lots of goals too. So we know we’re capable of defending, and defending well.

“But Adam Edgar and James Meyer and Sam Sibatuara are different kinds of players to (those at) Cairns, so we will have to set up a little bit differently and be smart against quite a youthful and energetic City team.”

While Baker pointed to City’s energy levels, he is also enthused by those within his own squad after shaking things up a fortnight ago by promoting the likes of Braedon Steel, Ryan Palmer (pictured) and Sebastian Scaroni into his starting eleven.

Established senior players such as Brock Messenger and even 200-game skipper Michael Angus have found themselves having to battle to get their starting positions back after returning from suspensions as the youngsters grasped their opportunities with both hands.

Wins over Redlands United (5-1) and last weekend’s efforts in Cairns have Baker believing the changes have rejuvenated a 2018 campaign that had faltered since mid-season.

“We’ve spoken about it within the group and said that with the changes against Redlands – the change of personnel and change of shape – we got a response. We got a reaction from people,” Baker said.

“So I had to reward that going up to Cairns. I could have quite easily brought ‘Gussy’ straight back into the team, being captain and all. But Seb’s a young lad and he did well, so the team was picked on merit for that week. And he did well again.”

Baker’s team selections might have surprised Cairns FC last weekend, but he said he would continue to back the ‘shake things up’ approach.

“It’s not about trying to surprise opposition coaches. It’s more about internally trying to get the most out of everybody within our squad,” he said.

“We’ve got lots of different types of players with different strengths and we are just trying to maximise that as best we can, which we probably haven’t done over the course of the year.

“Having that competition (for starting positions) in the last two weeks has certainly helped do that. There’s been a different type of energy around training and around the camp, so we want to build on that again this weekend at City”.

Football Queensland will live stream the game.

NPL Queensland Round 22: Brisbane City v Brisbane Strikers, Saturday 28 July, Spencer Park, Newmarket. Kick-off at 6.30 pm.

Photo: Roze Gallo

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