Roar focused on stopping Maclaren
BRISBANE Roar midfielder Jacob Pepper says stifling Jamie Maclaren will go a long way to helping Robbie Fowler’s men get the three points against an in-form Melbourne City at Suncorp Stadoum this afternoon.
Former Roar striker Maclaren is the A-League’s top goalscorer this season, tallying 12 goals from his nine games.
The Socceroo scored a hat-trick for City in Brisbane’s 4-3 win at home in round six, and Pepper said keeping Maclaren quite this time around would be crucial if the Roar (ninth) were to extend their unbeaten run to three matches.
“Jamie’s a good player and he scores goals,” Pepper, 27, said.
“He loves to run in behind the defence, so our three central defenders have to be wary of that because they like to get in behind with a second runner as well.
“As long as we check our runners and keep it tight between the defence and midfield, I think we will be right and Jamie will have a quiet night.
“We have worked on blocking the lines at training and stopping the balls getting to the forward’s feet, which stops the second runner. Now we just have to implement it for tomorrow.”
Pepper was one of the Roar’s better players in their shocking campaign last season.
With Fowler bringing in a raft of players this season, Pepper said the team was beginning to gel and fans should see an improvement in performances.
“We brought in something like 18 players, so it’s not going to happen overnight,” he said.
“It’s especially hard for the overseas players. They have to get used to the conditions and it’s a more physical league compared to other leagues in Europe.
“So I think the second half of the season will be better and we can push up the ladder.”
Melbourne City sits second on the ladder with seven wins, but have lost four times and almost threw away a three-goal lead in a 3-2 win over Western United last week.
Pepper said the Roar could take advantage of that inconsistency to continue their good run.
“They are very hot and cold,” he said. “We played them in round six and did a job on them, so hopefully we can do a job on them again.
“We know we can. We scored four goals against them then, so hopefully the goals aren’t lacking tomorrow night.
“Structurely we have to be a lot better. We conceded three and we can’t do that again because that makes our job a lot tougher.”