Strikers “Full Of Confidence” For Gold Coast Test: Lane

Jun 30, 2017 by

A PlayStation ® 4 NPL Queensland title race that has been gently simmering for a couple of months will be brought quickly to the boil at Perry Park on Saturday night when the Brisbane Strikers host Gold Coast City FC.

It’s second (Strikers) versus first (Gold Coast City) and, while it is still too early in the season, and third-placed Brisbane Olympic FC are too close in the league standings to call the game a ‘title decider’, there will be no doubt in the minds of any of the players that it represents the biggest game of the season so far.

For Strikers, a win would close the gap between themselves and Gold Coast City to just two points. That would put them within striking distance (no pun intended) of their ambition of winning successive premierships should Gold Coast slip up again.

But for the visitors it represents an opportunity to put Strikers virtually out of the contest. Three points at Perry Park on Saturday would mean that, for Strikers to still claim the premiership, Gold Coast would need to drop at least eight points from a run-in that sees them playing four of their last six games at home – an unlikely scenario given they are yet to lose at home this season.

Certainly, Strikers coach Sean Lane says the context around Saturday’s game has spoken for itself to his players.

“The mood at training for the whole week has been really focussed. I haven’t had to say much at all,” Lane said.
“They know what’s at stake and they’re switched on. They’re up for it”.

The match is the last in a trio of tough home games for Strikers, who followed up a heart-stopping 2-2 draw with FNQFC Heat with a 1-0 win over Brisbane City last week to remain unbeaten at Perry Park this year.

As draining as that sequence of games has been, Lane expressed confidence that it would not count against them on Saturday.

“I’d back us in to be probably the fittest team in the competition,” Lane said. “The boys physically are very, very fit – it’s just that sometimes mentally we’ve let ourselves down in key moments of the game”.

This season those key moments have usually been around the conceding and defending of set pieces. Indeed, Lane needed no reminding this had been the case the last time the two teams met, back in Round 5 when Gold Coast City finished with nine men but still won 4-2.

“We switched off in a couple of key moments, particularly in the first half at a couple of set pieces,” Lane said.
“So that’s where we need to improve. They (Gold Coast City) are a big, strong side and they’ve scored a lot of goals this year at set pieces. So it’s one of the areas that we’ve got to be focused on, for sure”.

Against Heat, another big and physical team, Strikers found themselves conceding free kicks late in the game that they failed to defend successfully. But Lane said he was hoping that on Saturday, given the status of the game, things will be different.

“My understanding is that we’ve got one of the more experienced referees and I think, for this game, that’s exactly what’s needed,” he said.

“It’s going to be super-competitive. They are an aggressive team and I expect us to match their aggression and it just needs to be refereed in a fair and responsible way”.

Not surprisingly, given the league table positions, Saturday’s game features the two most potent attacking outfits in the league. Strikers have scored 48 goals from their 15 games, just three more than Gold Coast City.

Seventeen of Gold Coast City’s goals have been scored by Sam Smith, who leads the league’s goal scoring chart, four ahead of his nearest rival in Olympic’s Matt Heath.

But while Lane is aware of the threat posed by Smith, he backs his own team’s attacking abilities to come out on top.

“He’s a big, strong lad and he gets himself in good positions and he’s a good finisher,” said Lane when asked about Smith’s qualities.

“But I’ve got Greg Cheshire (pictured) and Jeremy Stewart, who’ve scored 8 from 15 and 11 from 14, and we’ve got Leesy (Michael Lee) and Jake McLean who can score goals. We’ve got players all over the park who can score – my fullbacks have scored two and three goals!

“We’ve scored the most goals in the competition and the reason for that is we’re an attacking side. That’s where our focus is”.

Saturday’s match-up puts on a collision course two teams who have long unbeaten runs behind them. Strikers have not been beaten in PlayStation ® 4 National Premier Leagues football since that Round 5 defeat by Gold Coast City.

But as impressive as that is, Gold Coast City have not been beaten since the opening round when they went down 2-3 to FNQFC Heat in Cairns.

Lane, however, said his players were not daunted by the seeming invincibility of their opponents.

“We are going into this game full of confidence and I can just tell by watching the boys that they’ve every expectation that they’ll get a win this weekend,” Lane said.

In a sign of the significance of the game to both clubs, their teams will be accompanied on to the field for the start of play by junior footballers – Strikers by their Under-13s team and Gold Coast City by the Coomera Colts Soccer Club’s Under-12s.

Strikers are also promoting the game within the club through an offer of a free hot dog and soft drink for every Brisbane Strikers junior who attends in a club shirt or track suit.

The game will also be live streamed on Football Queensland’s Facebook page.

Brisbane Strikers v Gold Coast City – Statistics

Brisbane Strikers

Last five PlayStation 4 NPL results –
Brisbane Strikers 1 v Brisbane City 0
Brisbane Strikers 2 v FNQFC Heat 2
Moreton Bay United 0 v Brisbane Strikers 1
Brisbane Strikers 2 v Western Pride 2
Brisbane Strikers 3 v Brisbane Olympic 1
(3 wins, 2 draws)

Home record in 2017: 6 wins, 0 losses, 2 draws (31 goals scored, 6 conceded)

Top 3 scorers:
Jeremy Stewart (11 goals from 14 games)
Greg Cheshire (8 from 14)
Michael Lee (7 from 14)

Gold Coast City

Last five PlayStation 4 NPL results –
SWQ Thunder 0 v Gold Coast City 3
Gold Coast City 9 v Sunshine Coast FC Fire 0
Brisbane City 2 v Gold Coast City 3
Gold Coast City 5 v FNQFC Heat 1
Gold Coast City 1 v Moreton Bay United 1
(4 wins, 1 draw)

Away record in 2017: 6 wins, 1 loss, 1 draw (21 goals scored, 8 conceded)

Top 3 scorers:
Sam Smith (17 goals from 14 games),
Jarrod Kyle (7 from 13),
Ben Lyvidikos (4 from 13)

Brisbane Strikers v Gold Coast City head-to-head in PlayStation 4 NPL: Strikers 4 wins, Gold Coast City 4 wins, 2 draws

At Perry Park: Strikers 3 wins, Gold Coast City 1 win

*All 2017 statistics obtained from the PlayStation 4 NPL website.

PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland Round 16 – Brisbane Strikers FC v Gold Coast City, Perry Park, 1 July 2017, kick-off at 6.00 pm

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About the author

Media Liaison, Brisbane Strikers Mob: 0432 085 222