After an impressive display against Western Sydney Wanderers in the FFA Cup Quarter-Final, it may have been assumed that Melbourne City were given the luck of the draw, fixtured to play against Brisbane Strikers on Tuesday, October 1. Beware, however; the NPL Queensland outfit boast a deadly number 9 and exhibit a style of play similar to that of Postecoglou’s old ‘Roarcelona’ side.
Giants of the NSL-era, the Strikers were crowned Australian champions in 1997, and were very nearly awarded a license in 2005 as an inaugural A-League team. They were a regular feature of the FFA Cup knockout stages in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and have gone on to achieve their best-ever run in the competition this year.
Perhaps disappointingly for the Cup semi-finalists, a 5th-place finish in NPL Queensland was the best they could achieve in a somewhat inconsistent campaign in which they – alongside Brisbane Olympic – were left in the dust of the league’s top three clubs.
Moving onto our analysis of the Strikers’ squad, and there’s genuinely only one place to start.
The team’s 22-year-old star striker, Andrew Pengelly, wiped the floor with rival NPL Queensland sides in 2019, amassing an incredible 41 goals in just 26 games – 14 more than second place.
In the club’s four May fixtures alone, he scored three consecutive hattricks and a brace for 11 goals total. In the final seven games of the season he scored 21 goals, including nine against Sunshine Coast and four against Brisbane Roar’s NPL outfit.
The striker is especially renowned for his lethal finishing inside the box and has earned himself a trial with the Mariners.
It’ll be interesting to see if Pengelly can continue banging in the goals against A-League opposition, with the early signs appearing to indicate so, having struck the equaliser against Wellington in the Round of 32 earlier in the FFA Cup.
However, Pengelly’s incredible tally may be indicative of the team’s overdependence in attack, with the striker’s goals accounting for 52% of his team’s offensive output this season. The next most prolific goalscorer is Zach Maltby with seven from 24 appearances, placing him outside the competition’s top 30.
There aren’t any noteworthy ex-A-League players to speak of amongst the Strikers’ lineup, but Japanese defender Hiroki Omori is another talent who could give City some issues with the left-fullback known to provide an attacking threat on the wings in addition to capably fulfilling his defensive duties.
Ryan Palmer was the star in the Strikers’ Quarter-Final victory over Moreland Zebras, registering two goals and an assist.
Writing for Football Today after the club’s Round of 32 victory over Wellington Phoenix, journalist Shabab Hossain noted that the Strikers refused to back down against their A-League opposition, preferring to play a captivating, attacking game plan:
“It was an entertaining display which showed remnants of Ange Postecoglou’s great ‘Roarcelona’ side, with quick interchanges and an insistence to play the ball out from the back rather than hoofing the ball forward to a target man.”
Melbourne City are set to travel to Brisbane Strikers’ Perry Park on Tuesday, October 1, for their FFA Cup Semi-Final clash which kicks off at 7:30pm.