Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)
Hiroki Omori has ensured a successful opening for the Brisbane Strikers 2016 FFA Cup campaign in a 2-0 win over Eastern Suburbs on Tuesday evening.
Easts launched a counterattack inside the first five minutes with Andy Coyne delivering a superb cross for Carter Glockner to attempt a shot on goal on the half volley. After initially looking to have beaten Strikers keeper Seb Usai, the defence scrambled away to safety.
Strikers made their tactics clear right from the outset, looking to play an up-tempo brand of football in an attempt to catch their opponents off-guard. Rhys Meredith almost took advantage of that quick work with a shot on an angle that trickled past Easts gloveman Tom Carroll.
Carroll was then able to pull off a good save after a deflected cross from Shelford Dais for Jake McLean who couldn’t convert a volley.
A potential turning point in the game came when Meredith was forced to be substituted with what appeared to be a hamstring complaint just before the twenty minute mark.
The Strikers best chance came midway through the first half as Omori picked out Dais with a cross field ball. He then delivered on for an unmarked Fraser Hills at the far post but was unable to convert into an open net.
Carter Glockner produced Easts first real opportunity of the night when he blasted from 25 yards out forcing Usai to punch over the bar.
Shortly before the halftime whistle, the hosts had to withstand three consecutive corners but did so successfully to see the scoreboard attendant untroubled at the break.
Strikers dominated the early going after the restart and the opening goal came when Fraser Hills played in Omori down the left. The Japanese winger making no mistake with his effort.
Omori would double his own personal tally and his side’s score as he dazzled an Easts defence that had come under sustained pressure. After rounding a number of defenders, he struck a magnificent finish from just outside the six-yard box.
Easts had a chance to pull one back when Greig Henslee fouled at the edge of the box but Daniel Cunha’s resulting free kick went straight into the wall.
With less than ten minutes remaining, Dais could have iced the game once and for all in a one-on-one moment with Carroll but the keeper saved his side again, representative of a number of moments during the second half to keep his side in the match.
The Strikers become the seventh side in Brisbane to move through to the next round.
Easts 0 v Brisbane Strikers 2 (Hiroki Omori 50’, 56’)
Easts: Tom Carroll, Alex Barnett, Matt Boyd, Nelson Burgess, Andy Coyne (Toru Amano 79’), Daniel Cunha, Carter Glockner, Jarod Lancaster (Costa Psaros 67’), Todd Norris (So Narita 65’), Michael Ryan, Ryan Stenhouse. Subs not used: Killian Flavin, Jack Richards.
Brisbane Strikers: Seb Usai, Sam Knight, Greig Henslee, Jake Marshall, Hiroki Omori, Michael Angus, Jake McLean, Fraser Hills, Shelford Dais (Jonti Richter 83’), Rhys Meredith (Luke Marsh 19’- Chris Maher 65’), Trent Clulow. Subs not used: Shaun Carlos, Michael Weier.
Referee: John Vasiliadis