NPL Round 8 Weekly Wrap
There were mixed results for the competition front-runners in Round 8 of the National Premier Leagues.
Review all the weekend action in the weekly wrap.
NATIONAL PREMIER LEAGUES COMPETITION TABLE
|2||Redlands United FC||8||6||1||1||34||14||+20||19|
|3||Brisbane Strikers FC||8||6||0||2||30||17||+13||18|
|4||Sunshine Coast FC Fire||8||5||1||2||22||11||+11||16|
|5||Brisbane City FC||7||5||0||2||29||16||+13||15|
|6||Moreton Bay United Jets FC||7||4||0||3||13||17||-4||12|
|7||Northern Fury FC||8||3||1||4||22||18||+4||10|
|8||Western Pride FC||8||2||1||5||9||20||-11||7|
|9||FNQ FC Heat||8||2||1||5||10||25||-15||7|
|10||Palm Beach Sharks FC||8||1||1||6||15||23||-8||4|
|11||Queensland Academy of Sport||8||1||1||6||6||23||-17||4|
Brisbane Strikers FC 1 (Alex HENDERSON 45’)
Queensland Academy of Sport 2 (Abrahim YANGO 26’, Sam SIBATUARA 53’)
Crowd: approx. 200
Queensland Academy of Sport converted potential into points on Friday night, chalking up their first win of the NPL season with an impressive 2-1 result against Brisbane Strikers at Perry Park.
Academy’s fleet-footed youngsters caught Strikers off guard early, but it wasn’t until the 26th minute that the mercurial Abrahim Yango put his side ahead with a well-struck shot from 15 yards.
QAS should’ve been good value for a half time lead, however a lapse of concentration from a late Greg King free kick saw Strikers defender Alex Henderson pull his side level in the last minute of the half.
The break didn’t alter the balance of play though, with Sam Sibatuara restoring QAS’s lead with a superb chipped finish over advancing Strikers goalkeeper David Chambers to deliver his side all three points.
Strikers mounted a desperate late surge – with a header from a late corner in the congested penalty area cleared off the line – however, without injured star striker Matt Thurtell were unable to find a winner.
The result sees QAS move one spot off the bottom of the table, while Strikers remain in third place.
Olympic FC 5 (Nick EFSTATHIS 21’, Jake MCLEAN 24’, Tim SMITS 38’, Carl TABULO 46’, Danny BYRNE 50’)
Northern Fury FC 3 (Alex READ 5’, Corey WAPLES 48’, Jake NAVARRO 76’)
Crowd: approx. 450
Olympic FC took their unbeaten start to the season to eight games on Saturday night, defeating Northern Fury 5-3 in an end-to-end contest at Goodwin Park.
The floodgates opened early in the high-scoring affair as the energetic Fury surprised the league leaders, Alex Read heading home confidently from Jake Navarro’s cross after barely five minutes.
Fury were denied a second by the post before Olympic turned their game up a notch – Nick Efthasis levelling terms when he nodded in from close range from a corner kick on 21 minutes.
Three minutes later Jake McLean put the hosts ahead when he finished off his classy run with an even classier finish from just inside the penalty area.
Tim Smits then extended his season tally to 12 goals with a trademark header on 38 minutes to give the hosts a comfortable 3-1 lead at the break.
The second half started with a flourish when Carl Tabulo extended the host’s lead with a firmly struck shot only a minute after the restart.
To their credit, Fury replied instantly with Corey Waples striking a screamer from 20 yards. However, Olympic re-established their advantage courtesy of captain Danny Byrne only a minute later.
Fury scored a third when Jake Navarro slotted a crisp shot on the turn with 13 minutes remaining, however Olympic held firm to see off the late challenge from the visitors.
The result sees Olympic FC stay top of the league, with other scores over the weekend increasing their buffer to 3 points; Northern Fury meanwhile drop to sixth.
Redlands United FC 3 (Reuben WAY 70’, Jheison Macuace 83’ 84’)
Sunshine Coast FC Fire 3 (Leon DWYER 20’, Jeremy LYNCH 29’, Paul ARNISON 78’p)
Crowd: approx. 700
Two goals in two minutes from Reuben Way inspired Redlands United to a share of the points on Saturday night, the Devils drawing 3-3 with fellow finals contenders Sunshine Coast Fire at Cleveland Showgrounds.
The Fire held a two goal advantage at the half but were unable to hold on against a fast-finishing Redlands inspired by a parochial home crowd.
Leon Dwyer opened accounts for the visitors in the 20th minute when he burst through the heart of the Redlands defence, his well-placed shot brushing the fingertips of fully-extended Redlands keeper Mitch O’Brien.
Dwyer continued his good form and underlined his growing partnership with Jeremy Lynch, cutting the ball back after another impressive run for Lynch to finish strongly on the half hour.
Redlands cause wasn’t helped when they lost captain Michael Lee to injury before the half-time break, however the hosts showed more initiative in the second stanza and pulled a goal back when Reuben Way pounced on a parried save to score from close range.
Paul Arnison restored Fire’s two-goal advantage from the penalty spot eight minutes later, before Macuace’s star turn settled the draw in the final ten minutes.
Macuace’s first came when he poked home a shot through a crowded penalty box and juxtaposed with his second – a scintillating 20 yard effort that sent the local crowd into raptures.
The result sees both teams maintain their place in the NPL top four, however both cede ground to competition front runners Olympic FC.
CQFC Energy 1 (Chris GEDDES 59’p)
Moreton Bay United Jets FC 2 (Michael MCEVOY 13’ 24’)
Crowd: approx. 350
Moreton Bay Jets returned to the top half of the NPL table on Saturday night following a hard fought 2-1 victory against CQFC Energy at Rugby Park in Rockhampton.
Michael McEvoy netted a first half brace off the back of two set pieces to give the Jets their first win since March and consign CQFC to the foot of the NPL table.
The Jets adapted well to the patchy Rugby Park surface, altering their usually fluid passing game to a more direct style in light of the difficult conditions.
McEvoy’s first came courtesy of a short corner with the defender positioning himself adroitly to steer home a low cross with a first time strike.
He followed it up 11 minutes later off the back of a free kick, Karl Dodd latching on to the secondary ball to set up McEvoy for another strong finish.
The prolific Chris Geddes once again stood up for Energy, converting from the penalty spot for his 10th goal of the campaign.
However, despite a fast and furious finish from the hosts, who were spurred on by the enthusiastic home crowd, the injury-depleted Moreton Bay ultimately proved good value for the win.
Western Pride FC 3 (Peter DRAGER 29’ 82’, Russell WOODRUFFE 51’p)
FNQ FC Heat 0
Crowd: approx. 500
Western Pride have rallied in the absence of suspended player-coach Kasey Wehrman to record their first NPL win since March, defeating a ten man FNQ FC Heat 3-0 at Eric Evans Oval in Ipswich on Sunday.
Peter Drager and Russell Woodruffe continued their recent scoring form for the Pride in a polished performance from the hosts in their first home fixture at the venue.
Drager pounced just prior to the half hour to open accounts when Woodruffe’s fierce shot bounced back off the crossbar invitingly for his teammate.
Pride held the lead until the half before FNQ FC goalkeeper Mikel Breckinridge was red-carded for a challenge on Zelmer Martinez – Woodruffe stepping up to convert the subsequent spot kick.
Drager secured his brace and the result in the final ten minutes, finishing well from Jay Kitching’s piercing run through the Heat midfield.
The three points lifts Pride into seventh on the NPL table and above Heat on goal difference, with both sides recording seven points from their opening eight fixtures.
Brisbane City FC 4 (Antonio MURRAY 21’ 81’ 90’+3, Alistair PASE 85’)
Palm Beach Sharks FC 2 (Jarrod KYLE 31’, Chris LUCAS 34’)
Brisbane City striker Antonio Murray has stormed to the top of the NPL goal scoring charts, netting a hat-trick in his side’s 4-2 win over Palm Beach Sharks at Spencer Park on Sunday evening.
Former Scottish Premier League player Murray displayed the neat finishing for which he is renowned, twice chipping Palm Beach goalkeeper Ryan Meskell to take his personal tally to 14 goals from just six appearances so far this season.
Murray opened the scoring for the hosts with the first of his chipped efforts on 21 minutes, however defensive errors gifted Palm Beach a 2-1 lead at the break – errant passes at the back resulting in goals to Jarrod Kyle and Chris Lucas.
A fiercely contested second stanza saw Eric Frazier and Levi Hilton dismissed for City and Sharks respectively but it wasn’t until the final ten minutes that the hosts, buoyed by a vocal home crowd, overran their opponents.
Murray’s second came when he slotted home a pass across the face of goal, before Alistair Pase put the home side ahead with a sharp finish with five minutes remaining.
Murray then put the icing on another superb individual performance, once again chipping Meskell to secure his hat-trick.
The result sees City keep the pressure on the NPL top four, with Glen Volker’s side now a point adrift of Sunshine Coast with a game still in hand. Palm Beach meanwhile remain mired in the lower half of the table.
Words: Michael Flynn (Football Queensland)