Brisbane Roar captain Matt Smith says he and his teammates are thriving on the challenge of the club’s recent run of away fixtures as the club prepares for a fourth away trip in five weeks.
Roar have won all three of their away fixtures since the start of December, including tricky matches in Adelaide and Wellington prior to last week’s 5-2 demolition of Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium.
The only loss in that period came in the club’s only home game, a frustrating 2-0 result at the hands of Newcastle Jets.
The club’s Round 13 clash against Melbourne Victory once again sees Roar travel interstate, however Smith said the league-leaders holds no fear of playing in front of one of the league’s most boisterous supporter groups.
“We enjoy playing away, we enjoy the proposition and the challenge,” Smith said.
“When you’re playing in front of big crowds in Sydney, and obviously it will be a big crowd down in Melbourne, they’re the games that big players want to play in.
“They’re the fun games and you always like playing in front of a big crowd against a good team and that’s going to be no different on Saturday night.
Roar will be without big names for the clash, with Shane Stefanutto another week away from returning from a hamstring injury and striker Besart Berisha still sidelined with a hip complaint.
Smith said the club’s recruitment and training policies had held the squad in good stead to tackle both the injuries and the heavy away schedule.
“(Manager) Mike (Mulvey) and the club made a conscious decision at the start of the year to have a small squad,” Smith explained.
“We’ve had a number of our boys that might not be in the headlines each week but they’ve been training with us for the last couple of years.
“So it terms of the way that we play, they are just as primed,” Smith said.
Smith highlighted last week’s hat-trick hero Dimitri Petratos and reserve goalkeeper Matt Acton as players who have made telling contributions to the first half of the campaign in their first senior starts for Roar.
“Obviously in recent years a lot of these players haven’t had too much game time because we’ve had a consistent team,” Smith elaborated.
“For one reason or another, they are now getting their chance and it’s a credit to themselves that when they come in they can stand the pressure of playing in front of big crowds and don’t get scared of the occasion.
“Without them having their chance, without them standing up and really putting their mark on our season, there’s no way we would be where we are today.
Roar trained solidly in the cooler but still humid conditions on Tuesday morning and Smith said he and the players enjoyed the intensive turn on the training pitch.
“We were just saying it’s nice to have a good hit-out for a change; we’ve had some short weeks over the Christmas period.
“There’s been a bit of a break between our last against Sydney and (this weekend) Melbourne, so now it’s good to have a good CT session today.
However, Smith admitted the intensity would put an end to any hopes of seeing in the New Year at midnight.
“Hopefully I’ll stay up for the 8:30 fireworks and then I’ll probably be in bed,” he laughed.
“It’s about being focused,” he further explained, “I think I have one of the best jobs in the world and I have no problem sacrificing things like that to be able to play week-in, week-out.”