Rovers aim to take sting out of Red Devils tail

FFA Cup Preview pic RU v RR

Rochedale keeper Brandon Cuminao (right) will be hoping to block out the attacking threat of Redlands Nico Bechar

Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)

One thing is for certain in the first FFA Cup round seven match on Friday night, either Redlands or Rochedale will go onto make their debut appearance in the competition’s round of 32.

With both sides currently sitting third in their respective competitions, it promises to be a high-quality and entertaining affair. Something not lost on Rochedale coach Scott MacNicol in assessing his opponents after watching them in last Friday’s NPL win against Gold Coast City.

“They’re very quick. They’ve got good players all over the park, good players in key positions, dangerous going forward and I think the signing of (Michael) McGowan has really strengthened them at the back.”

Redlands coach Matt Chandler backed that up. “I think we have got to defend efficiently. We’ve been doing that in recent weeks so that’s just as important as our game changers, is how we defend as well.”

With both teams playing in separate leagues, it’s been a long time since drinks in meeting each other in true competitive anger. Redlands won’t have happy memories from the 2012 Brisbane Premier League Preliminary Final where they were trounced 5-0 by Rochedale.

Of course, plenty of water has gone under the bridge since that occasion but there will be a few familiar faces from that match out at the Cleveland Showgrounds on Friday night. Just one player from Rochedale’s triumphant side is left in their current squad, that being Greg Cheshire who scored in that match. Redlands have faired better with Michael Lee, Graham Fyfe, Igor Sao Jose and Nick Danicic still amongst their ranks. Jose Mojica-Rodriguez who played for Redlands that evening will line up for Rochedale.

These sides aren’t strangers to each other since then though. They were both drawn in the same group at this year’s pre-season Silver Boot competition where Scott Sargent produced a late winner for Rochedale to claim a 2-1 win.

Injury hardship has stung both clubs in recent weeks. Redlands regular first-choice keeper Brendan White is out for an extended period so too is midfielder Sao Jose while Stephen Green suffered an ankle injury in their last round Cup win against Brisbane City and is still at least a week away from a return. Talisman Fyfe played 30 minutes off the bench in last Friday’s win against Gold Coast City and is once again expected to start from the bench.

MacNicol has had his own injury concerns with midfielder Sargent and defender Phil Davies not playing in Rochedale’s most recent BPL match against Capalaba. Mojica-Rodriguez missed the match through suspension while Daryll Grant was stretchered off midway through the first half. All have been cleared to play for Friday night though resulting in MacNicol having a full squad for selection.

So where can the game could be won? Chandler thinks the capability of players such as Michael Lee and Nico Bechar and their ability to break open a match could be critical in his side’s chances, “I think that will be and could be the defining part of the game. We have a couple of players that can really change the game and turn it on its head real quick.”

It’s the opposite for Rochedale who don’t have an out-and-out striker with MacNicol offering, “We don’t have a genuine number nine like some other teams do but we do have some very good front-line players. We do need someone to step up and put a few (goals) away. We maybe need our midfield to start taking a bit of pressure off and start banging a few goals as well.”

Rochedale proved a couple of weeks back that they can defend a lead after taking the full quota of points against Brisbane Premier League leaders Lions. With a defence anchored by Luke Howell and Uryu Nagata, the unit will need to be up to the task with their opponents Bechar and last year’s BPL Golden Boot winner Alistair Davis providing plenty of pace to burn.

It could well come down as to who scores the first goal but as Redlands proved last weekend, they have the ability to be able to overcome a deficit from behind.


FFA Cup Round 7

Redlands v Rochedale

Cleveland Showgrounds

Friday 3 June. Kickoff 7pm.