Man of the Match, Mark Stuart praises City’s depth after Redlands victory
Home-grown star defender Mark Stuart praised Brisbane City’s depth after the side overcame the loss of Rhys Raymond in the week before season launch to get its 2019 National Premier Leagues Queensland off to a flier on Saturday night.
Stuart, 19, was named man of the match as City ran out 3-0 victors over Redlands United at Corporate Travel Management Stadium, keeping a clean sheet, something that only happened five times last season in the league.
“Yeah for sure [it’s a good feeling],” Stuart said.
“Coming into today after the game midweek, I think we felt confident as a team. It’s a great start, we’re really happy and really confident.”
Stuart echoed the comments of his coach in praising the impact of new Italian defender Mattia Binatti, who adds the experience of having played both in Europe and South America to a teenage backline.
“Yeah I think for sure Mattia has been a great addition to the back,” Stuart said.
“I know for me, Tommy [Aulton] last year was a great captain, he goes hard in tackles and leads by example, but having that experience is just another asset in the backline so, I know for me, I loved having him there.
Even though the season is just a game old, the squad has had to deal with some early adversity, when Rhys Raymond suffered a season-ending injury in the final pre-season game against China Under 20’s in mid-week.
Stuart was quick to pay credit to Raymond, whilst also crediting the talent within the entire squad as being key to City’s success this season.
“First of all it’s terrible what happened to Rhys,” Stuart said.
“We all love him and I’m sure we’ll see him at all the games this year and he’ll be a massive part of the team, even off the field.
“Kye Bolton, who dropped in, played there a bit before so he’s pretty comfortable there. We’re all friends in the team, so anyone who slips in is pretty comfortable.
“A thirty-game-long season, it’s going to be a huge asset to have people who can just slip in because there will be injuries and suspensions.
“Having depth is going to be huge this season, I think that’s going to be big for us.”
City won the match by three goals, equalling its biggest ever margin of victory on opening day in the National Premier Leagues era (a 4-1 victory over SWQ Thunder in 2017), but the scoreline could have been even greater had City found the net with four shots that hit the woodwork.
One of those shots came from Stuart, who blasted a ball from the edge of the area off the top of the post.
Not a noted goal scorer, Stuart admitted jokingly that he might have wasted his one goalscoring chance of the season already.
“I don’t know, it kinda bobbled out to me and I thought, here’s my chance, and it just hit the post.
“I thought as I was running back, damn that was my chance, watch, that’ll be my only chance for the season!” Stuart laughed.
“I was hoping it would just fly top corner, but obviously not.”
Although Stuart scored for the double-winning Youth side last season, he backs himself to be able to contribute in the goalscoring department for City at some point in the year.
“I don’t think I’ll be bombing up and down too much, I’ll leave that to Beags [Nathan Beagley].
“I’m hoping at corners I can cause a bit of havoc.”