Unbeaten Home Record On The Line Against Kirkham’s Olympic

May 19, 2017 by

After a break of three weeks the Brisbane Strikers return to Perry Park this Saturday for to welcome Brisbane Olympic FC for what shapes as the PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland match of the round.

Strikers and Olympic are running second and third respectively in the competition, with only two points separating them as they both attempt to chase down league leaders Gold Coast City, who have a three-point break over Strikers. The stakes are high for both teams.

Wet weather permitting, Strikers will be chasing their sixth successive league win (they have not dropped a point since losing 4-2 to Gold Coast City in Round 5), but coach Sean Lane expects the challenge brought by Olympic will be an entirely different proposition to some of those they have recently faced from teams now mostly in the bottom half of the table.

“If you look at their (Olympic’s) position in the league table I would suggest it is going to be a difficult game. But it’s one we are looking forward to,” Lane said after taking training on Thursday night.

Olympic have been on the rise since current coach Terry Kirkham took over their coaching reigns midway through last season at a time when the club had endured a dismal start to its campaign and was near the foot of the league table.

Kirkham kick-started a revival that gathered pace with a 2-1 win over Strikers at Perry Park on a night when Shane Stefanutto – their former Brisbane Roar FC (Hyundai A-League) and Brisbane Strikers (NSL) defender – was red carded in the first half.

Olympic ended up narrowly missing the finals play-offs but picked up this year where they left off, leading the competition until recent weeks when they were caught and overhauled by both Gold Coast City and Strikers.

Against that backdrop, Lane said he was not taking much notice of Olympic letting two points slip at home last week in drawing 1-1 with Northern Fury – a team Strikers beat 7-1 in their last home match.

“They’re a good side and they’ve got some good players and you don’t end up top of this league by accident,” he said. “I think that was an aberration and they’ll be ready to rock and roll at the weekend.

“They’re well organised and they’re a physical side. Matt Heath is scoring a lot of goals for them and they are dangerous in attack and well organised behind that. It’s going to be one of our toughest games of the year for sure”.

Heath, a former Brisbane Striker who came through the club’s youth ranks before moving on to Olympic, has indeed been in great goal scoring form and currently leads the league’s goal scorers’ chart with 13 goals. That is an impressive six more than Strikers’ joint top scorers, Greg Cheshire and Jeremy Stewart.

Lane said that Heath’s greatest attribute was one that Strikers’ defenders would need to be at their best to deal with.

“He plays off the shoulder of the defenders and he’s quick,” Lane said. “Any attacker who’s got pace is dangerous in this league.

“We’ve got two ourselves who are in that category, with Stewart and Cheshire. We know how effective they can be and Matt Heath does the same sort of job for Olympic”.

Olympic’s next-highest scorer is Andrew Coyne, with four goals, while a more familiar name in Ramone Close has three.

They also boast quality in their midfield, with former Redlands United player Scott Bow and Sam Cronin looking set for a huge battle with Strikers skipper Michael Angus and the slippery Jake McLean.

Olympic, however, must keep not only Cheshire and Stewart out of the goals but also midfielder Michael Lee, who has six goals to his name and is arguably overdue, having not scored in his last three appearances.

They will also have to overcome the home team’s highly impressive form at Perry Park this season. Strikers have won all four of their previous home fixtures, with the smallest margin being 3-0 over SWQ Thunder.

The head-to-head record between the two teams, however, suggests that Olympic are a chance of doing exactly that. Olympic have shaded Strikers over nine previous meetings, with five wins to Strikers’ four. Two of Olympic’s wins were at Perry Park.

PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland Round 11: Brisbane Strikers FC v Olympic FC, Perry Park, Saturday 20 May, kick-off at 6.00 pm

Photo: Michele Pitman

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