Strikers’ Premiership Focus Stays Sharp For Roar Youth Clash

Aug 11, 2017 by

Brisbane Strikers coach Sean Lane says his players’ conviction that they can become 2017 PlayStation ® 4 NPL Queensland premiers remains rock solid as they prepare for another must-win assignment against Brisbane Roar Youth at Perry Park on Saturday.

After last weekend’s results only two teams – Strikers and Gold Coast City – remain in the hunt for the title of 2017 premiers while both have assured themselves of the right to host a semi-final.

Gold Coast continue to hold the whip hand in the premiership race, being three points ahead of Strikers with two games left to play. Strikers briefly held ‘top of the league’ status after beating Redlands 1-0 last Saturday night, but Gold Coast City stared down the challenge of Brisbane Olympic on Sunday to reclaim top spot.

Crucially, however, Strikers continue to hold a superior goals differential and know that, should Gold Coast City drop three points over the remaining two rounds, Strikers remain in a position to earn back-to-back premierships.
And that, said Lane, was keeping his players’ focus firmly on what they can control.

“We were obviously hoping that Gold Coast City would slip up but they didn’t, so you’ve got to give them credit for being able to deal with the pressure,” Lane said.

“But there’s more pressure on them again this weekend and again the following week. I still think there’ll be some ups and downs before the season’s finished.

“It really hasn’t made one iota of difference to us. We know we’ve got to win all of our games to be in with a chance if and when they slip up, and that’s been the focus. We’ve spoken of nothing apart from preparing to win at the weekend and once we’ve done that we’ll look at the following week.

“It’s a cliché, but that’s what we’re doing and that’s all we can do – win our games and then hope that other results will go our way.”

On paper, Strikers appear to have the easier task of the two premiership hopefuls on Saturday. Gold Coast City are at home to finals-chasing Western Pride – arguably the league’s form team over the past month or so – while Strikers play a Roar Youth team that seems to be struggling to live up to the standards achieved by its predecessors in PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland competition.

Currently eleventh in the league table (second-bottom) with 17 points, the elite youngsters are 28 points adrift of Strikers.

Since losing 5-0 to Strikers in Round 10 in mid-May, Roar Youth have lost eight and won only two of their ten matches, with their only victories coming over cellar dwellers Sunshine Coast Fire and Redlands United. They have conceded 60 goals over the season while scoring only 30.

But while that might seem a depressing scenario for the Strikers’ weekend opponents, Lane remains wary of their potential to lift against his team.

“It doesn’t matter where they’re at, all I know is that like every team in this league when they are playing the Strikers, they just raise their game,” Lane said.

Lane has had some coaching dilemmas to resolve during the week, owing to one-match suspensions to midfielder Jake McLean and right back Sam Knight (pictured) that will be served during the Roar Youth fixture. Both players have been ever-present in his starting eleven this year.

But while losing McLean and Knight at such a crucial time of the season is not ideal, Lane said he was confident he has the resources at his disposal to compensate.

“The new blokes who will come in have played for the team, they’ve trained together three times a week, they all know the systems, they know the level of expectations,” Lane said.

“There’s no real concern from my end and they’re all keen to do well”.

While Strikers are well stocked with midfielders to cover for McLean, Lane gave little away when asked who he would replace Knight with. He suggested it might depend on which formation he sends into the game.

“Whether we play with a fullback or wingback, we’ve certainly got options on the right hand side,” Lane said.

“Hero (Hiroki Omori) can play fullback on either side and there’s a myriad of options when you’re forced to think about it – lots of opportunities to work out what we’ll do.”

While only a win will suffice for Lane and his players on Saturday, they need only to avoid defeat by Roar Youth to claim an unbeaten home record for the 2017 regular season.

PlayStation ® 4 National Premier Leagues Queensland Round 21 – Brisbane Strikers v Brisbane Roar FC Youth, Saturday 12 August, Perry Park. Kick-off at 6.00 pm.

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