Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)
Brisbane Strikers were too clinical for their opponents Holland Park in claiming a 6-1 win to progress to Sunday night’s final
A hat-trick to substitute Alistair Davis, a double to Fraser Hills and an own goal conceded by the Hawks made up the Strikers tally while Marek Madel was the scorer for Holland Park.
Honours were even in the opening stages of the match before the Strikers began to wrestle control.
Sam Knight was played in from a corner to the far post but headed high over the bar.
Moments later, desperation from the Hawks denied the Strikers an opener. Shelford Dais had his shot blocked, in the process committing keeper Matt Carr. With Carr out of the play, the Hawks defence scrambled to clear a second bite of the cherry.
Andrew MacAskill delivered a long-range shot that Seb Usai initially spilled but there was no one in the vicinity to take advantage.
Immediately, the Strikers went the length of the park. Rhys Meredith tried to poke an effort in but a goalmouth scramble then resulted and the Hawks turned the ball into their own net.
Meredith was again involved in the lead-up to his side’s second goal. Good lead-up play involving quick feet resulted in Hills collecting his first in a double.
A well delivered free kick from Trent Clulow to the back stick saw Knight shoot over the bar with twenty minutes to play in the first half.
Hills’s second came when Clulow and Shaun Carlos were involved in the build-up. Hills had his initial shot saved by Carr but the Strikers were more desperate in eventually putting away.
It had been a struggle for the Hawks to get into their attacking third but their best chances of the half came in the final five minutes with Usai saving Madel’s effort at the near post from a tight angle.
Two corners right on the halftime whistle had the Strikers worried, the first going wickedly close to being curled in directly from the corner.
Hawks come out full of purpose after their halftime chat and Madel reduced the deficit to two in the ten minute period after the break.
Meredith put a free kick that clattered the metal on the junction of the cross bar and the upright.
Midway through the second stanza, Strikers restored the three-goal lead. From a Clulow corner, Jake McLean and Greig Henslee were involved with substitute Davis continuing on his goal-scoring run in the tournament, finishing from outside the six yard box.
Davis almost had a second a minute later but was denied by former Wolves teammate Carr from close distance.
If there was any sense that the Hawks would go down without a fight, that would be dispelled as the Strikers were put under heavy pressure with Usai called into action a number of times to repel the attack.
A turnover in the Hawks defensive half when attempting to play out allowed Shelford Dais to play provider for Davis who provided a clinical finish from close to the point of his first goal.
It was the same again for the Strikers sixth. Carr was brought out of his box, Dais claimed the ball and that presented a two-on-one opportunity for the NPL side with a tap-in bringing up Davis’s hat-trick.
The Strikers will take on the winner of the second semi-final between Gold Coast City and Lions FC in Sunday night’s final.
Brisbane Strikers 6 (Own goal 12’, Fraser Hills 17’, 38’, Alistair Davis 67’, 85’, 90’) v Holland Park Hawks 1 (Marek Madel 52’)
Brisbane Strikers: Seb Usai, Chris Maher, Jake Marshall, Greig Henslee, Fraser Hills, Michael Angus, Shaun Carlos, Shelford Dais, Rhys Meredith, Sam Knights, Trent Clulow, Jake McLean, Jesse Wiemers, Alistair Davis, Samuel Johnson, Michael Weier.
Holland Park: Matt Carr, Phil Cave, Mark Rasmussen, Dan Smith, Dean Briggs, Andrew MacAskill, Sam Roper, Jeff Woodward, Marek Madel, Jake Kallis, Kenneth Boyle, Jack Cabassi, Alistair Pase, Manny Garcia, Ashley Shore, Jono Burrows.