Brisbane Roar are right in the hunt for a top-four berth and they have Shea Connors to thank for it after scoring a double in her side’s 2-0 victory over Liberty A-League Premiership hopefuls Western United.
Connors had come into the contest in a rich vein of goalscoring form and the she picked up right where she had left off on Saturday afternoon at Perry Park – making it five goals in five games.
The American forward opened the scoring with a lovely, dinked finish over Western goalkeeper and the February nomination for Liberty A-League Player of the Month, Hillary Beall to give Brisbane the lead inside the first 20 minutes.
And Connors wasn’t finished there, putting the result beyond doubt with an inch-perfect finish into the bottom corner to wrap up the all-important victory for Brisbane.
The Roar now sit only three points behind fourth-placed Melbourne Victory heading into the final three games of the season, but the reigning champions are still to play on Monday afternoon in the Derby against Melbourne City.
However, it had been a difficult lead-in to the game for Connors, who spoke about how the team rallied around her in the aftermath of one of her former teammates passing away during the week.
“I had a former teammate pass away this week. I just found out so everyone was just getting around me. So I think that that made it a bit special as well,” she told Dub Zone.
“I actually found out like 20 minutes before training on Thursday. So it was awful, honestly.
But the team is like family and… I’m so lucky to have the people I have around me and it’s a great group of girls and I’m really thankful for all of them.
It took Connors until her 10th appearance of the season to open her account for the campaign – but since then, she’s been on an absolute tear in front of goal.
The 26-year-old spoke about her early-season form, giving an insight into the mind of a striker who is struggling to find the back of the net.
“I think at the beginning this season I was maybe just too focused on defending and not getting up the field enough,” Connors said.
Then when I was, I think when you don’t get a few goals as a forward… everything starts being like really difficult and you put too much pressure on like even the simple tap ins.
“I think, I don’t know, I kind of just started backing myself and just trying to play free and getting into those attacking positions that are closer to goal because when I’m near the 18… I know I can finish it.”
Now, the focus turns to the final three games of the season for Brisbane, who still need to win and hope results go their way in order to “gatecrash” the top four – with Victory and Canberra United still ahead of them on the table and with games in hand.
“We’re looking to gatecrash 100%,” Connors said. “I think a few of the draws that we had have come to bite us probably but I mean we just beat the top team.
“We drew to Victory where I think we were unlucky not to win that game. I think we played really well.
So I feel like if you can beat the top of the table like why can’t you win the next three games that we have… there’s no excuses.
“Western (United) has pretty much beat everyone so if we can beat them. We might as well try to beat everyone else.”
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