Brisbane Strikers are the first Queensland club to qualify for the FFA Cup Semi Finals since its inception, after an enthralling 3-2 win over Moreland Zebras at Perry Park last night.
It was an epic Quarter Final match as both teams gave it their all in front of an outstanding 1,915 spectators.
A slow start to the first half had both sides showing aggression in the frontline in attempting to score.
The NPL Victoria 2 side were the first to showcase their skills with striker Nicolas Niagioran creating multiple chances to score.
While none of those chances translated into goals, it still had Strikers anxious to gain an advantage.
It wasn’t long until they did when in the 26th minute, a cut-back in the box from midfielder Ryan Palmer led Fraser Hills to drive a soaring shot, giving his team the 1-0 lead.
But the visitors didn’t make it easy for the NPL Queensland side. Niagioran continued creating opportunities for the Zebras with the side having the advantage in physical strength.
But what Strikers lacked in physicality, they gained with their pace and technique which would contribute to gaining their lead.
Minutes before half time, a through-ball to Strikers’ Palmer saw him go head-to-head with Moreland keeper Fraser Chalmers.
Keeping his composure, Palmer slid the ball past Chalmers, giving Strikers the 2-0 lead heading into the second half.
The second set of 45 minutes started with a sense of urgency as Moreland took control of possession, hoping to score after the break.
Just ten minutes in, their hard work paid off after Thomas Barforosh went up against Strikers’ keeper Bon Scott. Scott initially deflected the first shot but Barforosh picked up the scraps and gave Moreland their first goal of the night.
With the score at 2-1, the home team were keen to extend their lead and they would succeed in stunning fashion.
Just a mere two minutes later, a loose ball in the Moreland box was up for grabs and for the second time during the game, Palmer took the honour, earning himself a double.
From that point onwards, there were nervous moments for the Brisbane team. The away side had plenty of chances to score but Strikers’ keeper Scott continued showcasing his goal-keeping prowess.
The pressure was on again when Moreland’s Jakob Williams scored from a left-footed shot in the 81st minute.
A tense ten minutes of play ensued as Strikers held back and played defensively, desperate to hold onto their 3-2 lead.
Despite their best efforts, Moreland couldn’t equalise and it was Strikers who made history in progressing to the Semi Finals.
Speaking after the match, Brisbane Strikers Head Coach Owen Baker said he was extremely proud of what his team achieved.
“We wanted to create history tonight, that was our goal and the lads have done that. Now we have to try and see if we can make the final,” Baker said.
He also acknowledged the team’s preparation for the upcoming Semi Final.
“The motivation won’t be a problem because there’s potential to make the final of the FFA Cup which has never been done before. In terms of our training, it’ll be a lot of management but first of all, we’re going to enjoy this moment.”
Brisbane Strikers will host Hyundai A-League side Melbourne City in the FFA Cup Semi Final on Tuesday, 1 October at Perry Park from 7:30pm.
Words: Vivien Topalovic
Image: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images