QSL: Brisbane strike four against Capricorn

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Brisbane Strikers returned to winning ways when they comfortably accounted for the mid-table Capricorn Cougars 4-0 at Perry Park on Saturday night.
Striker Matt Thurtell once again stole the show with his sixth hat-trick of the season while Chris Di Sipio netted the home side’s other goal.
Contrary to the result though, Strikers never found their top gear against a Capricorn team content to sit back and contest on the counter; a tactical decision influenced by regular outfielder Michael Cay’s unfamiliar turn as Cougars’ custodian.
A somewhat scrappy opening twenty minutes saw both sides spurn clear-cut chances in front of goal; Sander Waterland and Matteson McGuire both blazing wide for the visitors while Greg King and Michael Angus missed the target for Brisbane.
Their passing game puttering along only in starts and spurts, Brisbane uncharacteristically scored all their goals on the counter; the first coming on 22 minutes and precipitated by a pin-point pass from Lorenzo Sippi.
The right back’s 40-yard cross-field ball found Greg King with acres of room on the left. King then drew a defender before laying the ball off for Thurtell who calmly slotted his shot past Cay.
Brisbane’s second once again came courtesy of King, this time his pass taking a fortuitous deflection off a defender before it fell for attacking midfielder Di Sipio, who’s neat finish replicated Thurtell’s earlier effort.
Strikers sealed the three points two minutes later when Thurtell ran on to Michael Angus’ defence splitting pass and again won the head-to-head with Cay.
Before the half-time break, Brendan Cobb had a chance for Capricorn after shaking his marker on the edge of the area but he couldn’t get his shot past David Chambers in the Strikers’ goalmouth.

The second stanza started with Cougars adding an extra man up front, however, before the alteration could impact upon the contest Brisbane had snatched a fourth.
Thurtell took control of a high ball just over halfway and proceeded to carve up the Capricorn’s desperate defenders, beating three of them before driving home a right footed shot from twelve yards for his third on the night and thirty-fourth of the season.
Capricorn came back into the contest shortly after but it was to little avail as Brisbane sat back and cushioned their attacks.
Around the hour mark, Waterland and Cobb, Capricorn’s most dangerous going forward, both had solid shots saved by Chambers who was desperate to maintain a clean sheet after conceding four in Mareeba last week.
Summing up their night, Waterland went on a rampaging run in the 72ndminute that tore open Brisbane’s backline; Capricorn’s number ten riding two challenges and getting into a great position only to hit an ineffectual shot with the outside of his right boot.
With ten minutes remaining, Thurtell squandered a chance for a personal fourth when he took possession at the top of the arc and crashed past his marker only to place his shot wide of the left post.
With the result assured and neither team looking to push for a final goal the match then petered out to an anti-climactic kick-around.
Speaking after the match, Cougar’s coach Joe Fenech acknowledged that his team was second best throughout.

“We told the boys it’s a situation of accepting your level in life, I guess. The Strikers were just a very good side in the first half.”

“When the boys in the regions come up and play against a very good side, I don’t just look at the result, I look at what they learn from it,” Fenech explained.
“The Strikers have been the benchmark for a long, long time and, I’ll be honest, four-nil made us look a little better than what we were.”
“I think the boys will learn from it,” Fenech added, “sometimes you learn more from a loss than you do from a win.”
Strikers coach David Large was keen not to get carried away with the score line,

“I think we really did it at a canter today,” he said.

Large acknowledged his side have not been at their best in recent weeks.

“We obviously have dipped and are on our way back.

“If that was the last game of the regular season, and I had to take this game into the finals, I would probably be concerned and we would have to do a fair bit of work on the training paddock.
“We’ve still got three or four weeks to keep working. I think we have turned the corner now. We have an opportunity to get the mojo back and I think we’ll be ready for finals.”
Next week Brisbane travel to Bundaberg for a clash with Spirit at ATW Sportsground where a single point will seal the regular season title for the former National Soccer League club.
Meanwhile, Cougars return home to Rockhampton where they will face off against fellow mid-table side Queensland Academy of Sport.

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