“We’re Still In With A Shout”: Lane

Jul 25, 2017 by

The Brisbane Strikers are steeling themselves for what head coach Sean Lane says is “the most important match of the season” when they travel to Townsville to play Northern Fury on Saturday.

With four matches left to play Strikers are walking a tightrope in their quest to become the first team to win back to back PlayStation ® 4 NPL Queensland premierships. A season-long chase of league leaders Gold Coast City has so far gone unrewarded, with Strikers currently six points behind in second place but with a game in hand. Brisbane Olympic sit just one point behind Strikers in a three-way title chase.

On paper, Strikers should be warm favourites to knock over Fury – the first of their four remaining opponents – on Saturday, given their last two games against them have finished in 6-1 and 7-1 victories to Strikers. But with their premiership aspirations squarely on the line, Lane says there is no way his players will take Fury lightly.

“For me this is our most important game of the season,” Lane said after taking Monday night’s training session.

“It’s our last big road trip and the boys know that we can’t afford to lose any more games. I have said that to the players, but I didn’t have to because I can see the intensity in their eyes. They know that we screwed up in Toowoomba and we can’t afford to screw up any more.”

While the result in Toowoomba against Thunder was deflating, particularly as Fury held Gold Coast City to a 2-2 draw on the same night and Strikers missed a chance to go top of the table, Lane said he had not been dispirited by his team’s performance.

“We just didn’t take our chances. We had four or five one-on-ones and we didn’t take any of them,” Lane said.
“We had one in the first ten minutes and, if that had gone in, the whole complexion of the game would have changed.

“I would have been a lot more disappointed if we’d created nothing, but that wasn’t the case. It was just one of those things. We could have been there until last weekend and still not scored – it was that type of game.”

Lane said that despite the disappointments of Toowoomba his players remain optimistic about their chances of wresting the premiership from the grasp of Gold Coast City.

“We’re still confident that we’re in with a big shout,” Lane said. “I think there’ll be a few more twists and turns before the end of the season.

“We’ve just got to keep winning our games and hope that Gold Coast slip up. There’s no easy games, but they’ve got a tough run-in and they’ve got to make sure they win all their games because if they slip up we’ll be on their tails, that’s for sure”.

Lane admitted that Strikers’ depth has been tested in recent games through injuries and suspensions to key players and the departure of midfielder Shaun Carlos. First-choice goalkeeper Zac Speedy, central defender Greig Henslee and midfielder Ethan Docherty were all unavailable in Toowoomba for a game in which Strikers had four teenagers on their bench.

But he said this was not an unusual situation for teams to find themselves in as they reach the final rounds of a season.

“Most teams have got injuries and suspensions at this time of the year, it’s just the way it is,” he said.
“Gold Coast have got their own issues with players leaving and injuries and suspensions, the same as everybody else”.

But Lane said he was expecting this weekend to being able to select from a full group of players for the game against Fury. And he said that, after having to do without the services of Henslee in Toowoomba, and skipper Michael Angus for the previous game against Sunshine Coast FC, he was especially looking forward to having them back at the same time.

“Not only is Henslee a fantastic footballer, but his leadership qualities are irreplaceable,” Lane said. “If you lose somebody with his experience, ability and nous in any team it leaves a gap. Having him back is not just great for me as a coach, but it’s great for the players around him to know that he’s there.

“Between him and ‘Gus, they’re both instrumental in setting the tone around training and setting the tone on the pitch. They’re two big players for us.”

PlayStation ® 4 NPL Queensland Round 19 – Northern Fury FC v Brisbane Strikers FC – Saturday, 29 July, Townsville Sports Reserve at 7.00 pm.

Photo: Albert Perez

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