Strikers start pre-season with win

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By Rafe Griffin (@griffofootball)

The pre-season officially kicked off on Saturday night on the Sunshine Coast where the NPL’s Brisbane Strikers got their preparations off to the best of starts in a 3-1 defeat of Sunshine Coast Premier League club, Caloundra FC.

As part of a fundraiser for Caloundra member Myk Prescott, who was recently diagnosed with leukaemia, it was the home side that scored first in the seventh minute. After 60 seconds earlier providing a chance that fell wide of the goal, Caloundra kept the pressure on the Strikers defensive line, forcing an error in an attempted clearance which was capitalised on despite the best efforts of Strikers ‘keeper Seb Usai diving to his left.

Both sides had chances to score in the following ten minutes and showing that their would be no quarter given in this ‘friendly’, each team had had one player in the referee’s notebook inside the first twenty minutes.

Midway through the first half, the momentum began to swing the Strikers way. Coach Kevin A’hearne-Evans selected a youthful squad with eight players in their first senior game, including six still eligible to play under 18’s and the combinations began to gel.

Last season’s Brisbane Premier League Golden Boot winner, Alistair Davis stepped over the ball when unmarked from just outside the six-yard box, a follow-up Strikers attempt on goal forced a sharp save from Caloundra ‘keeper Dale Hill, returning to the club after a stint at Sunshine Coast Fire last season.

The Strikers continued to pepper Hill with Davis, Sam Ball and Feli Sheriff the main protagonists for the visitors. Trialist Shelford Dais, released from the Brisbane Roar youth squad, also looked impressive.

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On the stroke of halftime, the pressure tolled for Caloundra when Davis scored an equaliser for the Strikers and the teams went to the sheds at 1-1.

The Strikers new recruit was able to double his tally two minutes into the second stanza to give his side a 2-1 lead after one of his teammates rattled the upright in an earlier effort.

Sheriff then caused headaches for the defence on the hour mark with a piercing run along the by-line that ultimately found side netting. Sam Johnson was unable to add to the scoring on the volley as Hill was called on once more.

Strikers pulled out to a comfortable 3-1 lead with twenty minutes remaining when Sam Ball got on the teamsheet and ten minutes from time, Luke Marsh could have made it four only for Hill to intervene again as Caloundra’s last line of defence.

Caloundra 1 v Brisbane Strikers 3 (Alistair Davis 43’, 47’, Sam Ball 70’)

Brisbane Strikers: Seb Usai, Jake Marshall, Shelford Dais, Sam Ball, Alistair Davis, Jesse Weimers, Zyad Dennis, Sam Johnson, Jayden Hewitt, Ryan Palmer, Feli Sheriff, Ollie Smith, Tom Ross, Luke Marsh, Michael Weier (RGK)

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