NPL Round 18 Weekly Wrap
Six clubs are still in the running for the NPL Queensland finals series after another weekend of exciting football across the state.
Review all the Round 18 action in the weekly wrap.
NPL QUEENSLAND COMPETITION TABLE
|2||Brisbane City FC||17||12||2||3||53||27||+26||38|
|3||Redlands United FC||17||11||2||4||64||33||+31||35|
|4||Sunshine Coast FC Fire||18||11||1||6||47||20||+27||34|
|5||Brisbane Strikers FC||16||11||0||5||55||32||+23||33|
|6||Moreton Bay United Jets FC||17||8||2||7||26||32||-6||26|
|7||Northern Fury FC||18||7||4||7||38||36||+2||25|
|8||Western Pride FC||17||6||1||10||26||35||-9||19|
|9||Palm Beach Sharks FC||16||5||1||10||30||44||-14||16|
|10||FNQ FC Heat||18||4||3||11||23||53||-30||15|
|12||Queensland Academy of Sport||18||1||2||15||16||51||-35||5|
Brisbane City 3 (Nathan BIRD 18’, Antonio MURRAY 42’(p), Alistair PASE 59’)
Queensland Academy of Sport 0
Crowd: 600 approx.
Brisbane City returned to second position on the NPL Queensland table on Friday night after accounting for Queensland Academy of Sport 3-0 at a rain soaked Spencer Park.
The hosts, sporting a reconfigured backline led by new captain Matt Biggins, dealt best with the slippery conditions; Nathan Bird and Antonio Murray giving City a two goal advantage at the break, before Alistair Pase sealed the result just prior to the hour.
City threatened the clubhouse end early, but it wasn’t until 18 minutes when Bird opened accounts for the hosts, turning in a cross for his first goal of the campaign.
Antonio Murray doubled the advantage prior to the interval, converting from the penalty spot after referee Alex King spotted a handball in the box.
The irrepressible Murray then popped up again just prior to the hour, combining well with Pase for the final goal of the night and Pase’s fourth of the season.
The result returns City to the second spot on the table, eleven points behind league leaders Olympic FC with a game in hand over their long-time rivals.
Northern Fury 0
Sunshine Coast Fire 2 (Sam KNIGHT 58’, Grieg HENSLEE 69’)
Crowd: 800 approx.
Northern Fury’s finals hopes are effectively dusted after Sunshine Coast Fire ended the club’s three game winning streak with a 2-0 win at Townsville Sports Reserve on Saturday night.
Captain Greig Henslee settled the result in the second half for the visitors after Sam Knight opened accounts following a goalless opening stanza.
Buoyed by the boisterous home crowd, Fury started promisingly. However, the hosts were unable to turn possession into goals as they spurned several chances in the opening half.
Knight gave his side the advantage just prior to the hour, the young defender getting forward to run on to a deftly chipped pass before slotting a left-footed shot for his fifth goal of the season.
Henslee doubled the lead 11 minutes later from a corner kick, the centre back’s driven shot deflecting off Fury defender David King in the crowded penalty area to catch out Brad Burrows in the goalmouth.
The win keeps Fire in the NPL Queensland top four ahead of fellow finals aspirants Brisbane Strikers, who Fire meet in three weeks time in a do-or-die home encounter.
The Fury now find themselves nine points adrift of the top four and require the maximum points from their final fixtures – in addition to other favourable results – to qualify for the end of season finals series.
Brisbane Strikers 3 (Josh MCVEY 29’, Scott COULSON 45’+1, Greg KING 63’)
Western Pride 2 (Peter DRAGER 9’ 18’)
Crowd: 200 approx.
Brisbane Strikers firmed their claims for finals football after overturning a two goal margin to defeat Western Pride 3-2 at Perry Park on Saturday night.
Josh McVey, Scott Coulson and Greg King inked their names on the scoresheet for Strikers, who went two goals down inside 20 minutes courtesy of a brace to Pride’s Peter Drager.
The opener came after only nine minutes, the lanky Drager breaking quickly after intercepting David Roby’s pass before slotting a low shot past Strikers’ goalkeeper David Chambers.
The striker then doubled the lead, and his personal haul, nine minutes later – finishing off a sharp counter attack with a sublime fifteen yard chipped finish from an acute angle. The goal Drager’s twelth of the season.
Strikers responded to level terms before the break – McVey halved the lead with a 20 yard scorcher that clipped the underside of the crossbar before Coulson restored parity, tapping in from close range for the defender’s first goal of the season.
Left winger King netted the winner just after the hour, striking sweetly from the top of the box to capitalise on a break down in play – the crowd favourite celebrating enthusiastically before the vocal Strikers supporters.
The result keeps Strikers in fifth place on the NPL Queensland table, one point shy of the top four with two games in hand over rivals Sunshine Coast Fire. Western Pride remain in eighth position and out of finals contention.
FNQ FC Heat 0
Moreton Bay Jets 2 (OG 53’, Matthew ZAPPONE 67’)
Crowd: 150 approx.
Moreton Bay Jets remain in the hunt for finals football following a hard fought 2-0 result over FNQ FC Heat in Mareeba on Saturday night.
Michael Zappone was the hero for the sixth placed Jets, sealing the result with his first goal of the campaign after the visitors went ahead courtesy of an own goal early in the second half.
Following a tense and goalless opening stanza that saw both sides spurn chances, defender Shane Raso inadvertendly broke the deadlock, his misplaced back pass beating scurrying gloveman Jack Richards into his own goal.
Zappone capitalised on another defensive error on 67 minutes, finding himself one on one with Richards before finishing well to seal the result for the visitors.
The win keeps Jets finals hopes alive with five fixtures remaining. The Moreton Bay club sits in sixth position, eight points shy of the NPL top four.
Olympic FC 7 (Jake MCLEAN 3’ 57’, Tim SMITS 29’, Danny BYRNE 34’, Matt MUNDY 48’, Costa PSAROS 79’, Robert SPIRKO 90’+1)
CQFC Energy 0
Crowd: 500 approx.
Olympic FC continued their march to the inaugural NPL Queensland league title with a comprehensive 7-0 defeat of CQFC Energy at Goodwin Park on Sunday afternoon.
Jake McLean netted a brace for the league leaders as they easily accounted for an 11th placed Energy outfit that finished the match without captain Jacob Crowley and head coach Ray Wood, who were both dismissed for dissent late in the match.
McLean opened accounts barely three minutes after kick off, picking off a pass in the centre of the park before bearing down on goal and slotting a neat finish in the bottom corner.
League leading goalscorer Tim Smits doubled the advantage prior to the half hour, heading home from Kazuya Ito’s cross to record his 23rd goal of the campaign and eleventh in his past six outings.
Smits turned provider for the third, lifting a well weighted pass over the backline for Olympic captain Danny Byrne, who lobbed his shot over the advancing Tim English to effectively seal the result on 34 minutes.
Former Brisbane Roar defender Matt Mundy continued the theme at the start of the second half, rifling home a shot from outside the penalty area only three minutes after the restart.
McLean netted his second of the afternoon, and fifth of the season, just prior to the hour – stretching well to get his foot to a Costa Psaros cross at close range. Psaros then netted his first of the campaign twenty minutes later.
Things went from bad to worse for Energy shortly after as first coach Wood, then captain Crowley, were sent from the field for dissent by referee David Weibe.
Busy first half substitute Robert Spirko capped off an impressive display with a goal in time added on, dribbling into the penalty area and unleashing an assured low finish to seal the seven goal margin in his first senior appearance for the club.
The win maintains Olympic’s 11 point lead atop the NPL Queensland standings. The Brisbane-based club could seal the league title as early as next weekend in Townsville against Northern Fury depending on other results.
Words: Michael Flynn (Football Queensland)