Brisbane Strikers centre half Greig Henslee says his team must improve its defensive work in Tuesday night’s rescheduled PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland Round 6 fixture against old foes Sunshine Coast Fire.
Midweek football arrives early for the Brisbane Strikers in 2017 with a game originally scheduled to take place yesterday that, like all other Brisbane fixtures in the league, was postponed due to the flooding rains associated with ex-Tropical Cyclone “Debbie” last week.
The game presents a delayed opportunity for both Strikers and Fire to atone for disappointments in Round Five, when both teams lost. According to Henslee (pictured), his team’s 4-2 loss away to Gold Coast City showed up shortcomings that Strikers must fix quickly if they are to get their premiership defence back on track.
“Our downfall at the moment is our own eighteen-yard box,” said Henslee. “I think the other eighty yards is fine. I think we’ve been dominating football matches – we’ve certainly had plenty of the ball and created plenty of chances.
“But, at the moment, teams are exploiting basically putting the ball into our box and fighting off first balls and second balls and it’s a tactic that’s working against us”.
Henslee said the cure for these ills was for Strikers, who have uncharacteristically leaked nine goals in their opening five fixtures, to show a little more urgency and discipline in their defending.
“It’s something that needs to be addressed,” he said. “I don’t think the desperation in the box (from us) has quite been good enough. Whether it’s the first ball or the second ball, it seems to be dropping in the penalty box and we don’t seem to be on the end of it as much as what we should be.
“It’s down to us. We’re not defending crossed balls well enough, we’re giving away silly fouls anywhere within our own half and it’s definitely something we need to improve on.”
But if Strikers have defensive problems they need to improve on, the same can be said for Fire – and then some!
Twice this season they conceded eight times in one match – including their 8-2 Round Five loss to Olympic. Fire are still winless this season and are currently second from bottom on the league table. Henslee, along with current teammates Sam Knight and Jeremy Stewart, is a former Fire player but said Tuesday would be no time for showing any mercy to a Fire team that will obviously be low on confidence.
Instead, they would be going for Fire’s jugular as they look to reignite their own premiership defence.
“Their results don’t lie and the league table doesn’t lie either,” said Henslee.
“But I don’t think Brisbane Strikers have every taken any pity on Sunshine Coast and I don’t see why that would be any different this Tuesday. Given our current state, the game’s massive and we’ll be going out there to take three points.
“But not only (do we need to) take three points, we need a big performance for ourselves points-wise, goals-wise, performance-wise – we need to put in a real, proper performance because we are going to need six or seven wins on the bounce to really catch up with the pack.
“So that’s really going to have to start on Tuesday.”
Strikers and Fire have fought many memorable contests since first locking horns in 2008 in the now-defunct Queensland State League. Overall, the head-to-head record between the clubs stands at 27 games for 14 wins to Strikers, 10 to Fire and three draws.
But since both clubs joined the PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland competition the pendulum has swung heavily in Strikers’ favour. Strikers have won seven of the eight contests between the clubs in their current league and have a perfect record at Perry Park of four wins from four.
A win for Strikers would take them to ten points, two behind joint leaders Olympic, Gold Coast City and Northern Fury, although Gold Coast City are also involved in Tuesday night action away to Redlands United.
PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland Round 6: Brisbane Strikers FC v Sunshine Coast FC Fire, Tuesday, 4 April, 7.45 pm at Perry Park.