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QSL: Brisbane crush Bundaberg's spirit

Sunday, July 08, 2012

League leaders Brisbane Strikers have continued their winning ways with a comprehensive 6-1 defeat of an under strength Bundaberg Spirit at Meakin Park in Logan on Saturday evening.

Free-scoring forward Matt Thurtell netted a hat-trick for the home side while attack-minded midfielders Chris di Sipio, Sean Burke and Greg King also etched their names on the score sheet.

Spirit, who were without five first-team regulars including captain Brett Kitching, could only manage a late consolation through substitute Elliot Causer.

Brisbane dominated the contest from the outset and it took Thurtell barely six minutes to open his tally with a simple tap-in from five yards courtesy of Nick Robinson’s rampaging run from the back.

The defender strong-armed from the centre-circle, straight through the heart of Spirit’s formation, forcing Bundaberg keeper Jason McEwan off his line, before the stand-in skipper squared it left to Thurtell who was waiting in support.

Seven minutes later Chris di Sipio continued his rich-vein of form when he nabbed the home side’s second. Coming out of nowhere, di Sipio surged onto veteran Chay Hews’ deftly weighted chip, his first-time strike leaving McEwan flat-footed and cursing his defence.

The crafty midfielder di Sipio has now scored in his last five league appearances after being demoted to the bench earlier in the campaign by Strikers manager David Large.

It was two more midfielders that combined for Brisbane’s third on 22 minutes. Michael Angus’ through-ball allowing Greg King to get in behind the defence before the left-sided winger then drove the ball to the right of the outstretched McEwan.

After half an hour Bundaberg finally came in to the contest, producing half a dozen half-chances in as many minutes. Brendan Davis had his claims for a penalty turned down by referee Jason Crow, while Adam Ormsby’s free kick from 30 yards shortly after forced Brisbane custodian Dave Chambers into a solid save to his left.

The visitor’s renaissance was short lived though and Thurtell sealed the result with his second goal, the Strikers’ fourth, just before the half-time break.

Having once again gotten in behind the Bundaberg line, Thurtell’s initial shot was well blocked by the advancing McEwan. While it defused the immediate threat, the ball did not cross the byline and was recovered by King out wide. The winger then whipped it back in to bizarrely still unmarked Thurtell, whose header snuck in at the near post.

The tone of the match continued in the second half despite some brief flashes of inspiration from the travelling Spirit. Brisbane’s di Sipio, Thurtell and King all fluffed further chances in the opening ten minutes after the restart.

It took a penalty for the fifth goal to finally arrive in the 57th minute. Sean Burke was adjudged to have been pushed off the ball after solid run through the defence. Thurtell duly converted the spot-kick and in the process secured his hat trick.

Two minutes later, Thurtell repaid Burke’s favour for Brisbane’s sixth goal, this time as part of a swift counter attacking movement.

Running at full pace, Thurtell magnificently controlled Michael Angus’ 40 yard pass. Thurtell then beat one defender and drew the other before passing to the surging Burke who confidently struck it past McEwan.

A dozen or more chances followed for Brisbane but poor finishing and complacent passing from the home side spared Bundaberg further blushes.

In the 84th minute the visitors nabbed a consolation goal from a corner. The initial kick was headed away from the far post by the Strikers defence but only so far as the lurking Elliot Causer at the top of the box. The first-half substitute then drove the ball low through the cluttered area, leaving keeper Chambers unsighted and little hope of saving it.

After the match, Bundaberg Assistant Peter Martin was full of praise for the table-topping opposition, “They were awesome in that first half. I think they could just about have beaten anyone.”

Martin did, however, find the faintest of silver linings in a disappointing display, “It was only 2-1 in the second half, so we’ll take a bit of hope from that.”

Strikers Manager David Large was not so easily pleased despite the score line.

“We’re certainly not happy to be in the position where we are at – we want to be at the next level,” Large stated. “Where that level is, I’m not really sure yet. Hopefully somewhere around September/October time we will be in a better place than we are now.”

“I was very disappointed to concede at the end,” he added.

Strikers captain Nick Robinson was effusive in his praise for man of the match Matt Thurtell, “I think he’s got all the qualities – there’s no doubt about that.”

“He scored three goals and that’s fantastic, but knowing Matty he will be disappointed that he didn’t come away with six or seven,” Robinson said.

Next week, Strikers continue their campaign with an away trip to Townsville to face North Queensland Razorbacks. Meanwhile Spirit will return to Bundaberg for a home clash against Queensland Academy of Sport.