NPL Qld Rd5 Preview – GCU v Strikers





United head to the capital Saturday aiming to build on recent momentum. A gutsy 2-1 result against City in Rd4, a maiden win at Coplicks, secured consecutive victories against Brisbane based opposition.

That match saw the welcome return of experienced midfielder Justyn Mckay, his first involvement for 2019 after an off-season injury. Mckay’s second half cameo off the bench – his composure, vision and deft passing game – was an instrumental part in overturning City’s 1-0 half time advantage.

With both Mckay and captain Michael Thwaite guiding United around the park, the squad will be looking to continue their steady early season improvement this weekend at Perry Park.

According to coach Kristian Rees, “Justyn’s probably the best midfielder on the Gold Coast with his experience and what he’s done in recent history with his football.

“His actions speak a lot louder than his words, he’s quiet, he goes about his job really well and the boys really look up to him. It’s great to have him back out there.”


United player to watch

Braedon Steel (#12) – mixed emotions for the young attacker when he returns to Perry Park this weekend. Steel (18) spent the past few seasons at Strikers and took out their Young Player of the Year award in 2018. Warming into his time at United, Braedon has already demonstrated his versatility and potential and will be set to impress on his return to his former club. 


Braedon Steel in action against Lions (Patrick Leigh Perspectives)


Strikers at a glance

Following a few departures in the off-season, Owen Baker’s re-jigged 2019 outfit are looking to improve on a 5th placed finish in 2018, a season that saw the Strikers miss the top four for the first time in the history of the NPL competition.

In that quest Strikers have began their 2019 brightly and currently sit 4th on the ladder. After a first up draw against Thunder, they bagged consecutive wins against clubs that finished at the foot of the 2018 competition, Redlands & Fire, and showed that they may be the real-deal acquitting themselves well against an undefeated Peninsula Power side, losing that Rd4 match 2-1 at home.

Up front Andrew Pengelly (Western Pride) looks to be the biggest threat and the addition of Chris Maher (Lions) adds much experience to the back line. Baker will be hoping that several promoted youth players develop to their potential and bring a zip to his 2019 squad. 


Past Encounters

Strikers put United to the sword in both 2018 matches, winning 4-2 at Perry Park in Rd5 and repeating the dose at Station Reserve running out comfortable 4-0 winners in the reverse fixture. In their most recent match-up, a ‘friendly’ in December, United demolished an under-strength Strikers 6-1 and will be looking to recapture that free-flowing attacking form this weekend.

“It’s a tough place to go, Perry Park, we’ll have to do our homework,” Rees confirmed.

“They’ve had some players come back into their team and they’ve got some really good young attacking players who are a big threat.

“We’ll get back on the track and really work hard. We want to try to keep that momentum there and get another result.”


How to watch

Kick-off at Perry Park is at 6pm on Saturday.

For those who can’t make it to Bowen Hills, the match will be live streamed on Football Queensland’s youtube channel.

Set a reminder at this link