NPL Round 15 Weekly Wrap
The NPL top four all recorded wins in Round 15 as they look to secure their finals berths whilst their fellow finals contenders Strikers and Fury kept apace with wins of their own.
Review all the weekend's NPL action in weekly wrap.
NATIONAL PREMIER LEAGUES COMPETITION TABLE
|2||Redlands United FC||15||10||2||3||58||29||+29||32|
|3||Brisbane City FC||14||10||2||2||47||23||+24||32|
|4||Sunshine Coast FC Fire||15||9||1||5||39||17||+22||28|
|5||Brisbane Strikers FC||14||9||0||5||44||29||+15||27|
|6||Moreton Bay United Jets FC||15||7||2||6||24||31||-7||23|
|7||Northern Fury FC||15||5||4||6||33||33||+||19|
|8||Palm Beach Sharks FC||14||5||1||8||29||38||-9||16|
|9||Western Pride FC||14||4||1||9||17||29||-12||13|
|10||FNQ FC Heat||15||3||3||9||17||44||-27||12|
|12||Queensland Academy of Sport||15||1||2||12||15||40||-25||5|
Sunshine Coast Fire 2 (Michael SCARFF 41’ 50’)
Queensland Academy of Sport 0
Sunshine Coast Fire maintained their spot in the NPL Queensland top four on Saturday afternoon, defeating Queensland Academy of Sport 2-0 at Eric Evans Reserve in Ipswich.
New signing Michael Scarff scored from corner kicks either side of half time for Fire, who maintain their hold on fourth place one point ahead of long-time rivals Brisbane Strikers.
Scarff, who joined Fire two weeks ago from local Sunshine Coast club Maroochydore Swans, opened the scoring on 41 minutes, turning in Nico Bechar’s corner at the back post with a composed right footed finish.
Five minutes after the restart the 25 year old doubled the advantage from another Bechar corner kick, this time heading home at the near post ahead of advancing QAS goalkeeper Fraser Chalmers.
The result marks the fourth clean sheet in five matches for Fire, who, despite losing more games than any other side in the top four, still boast the best defensive record amongst the league front runners conceding a miserly 17 goals so far this season.
Moreton Bay United Jets 1 (Nick ROBINSON (OG) 45’+2)
Redlands United 4 (Scott BOW 52’, Graham FYFE 57’, Jheison MACAUCE 74’ 79’)
Crowd: 250 (approx.)
A four goal second half blitz saw Redlands United extend their winning streak to four games on Saturday evening with a comprehensive 4-1 defeat of Moreton Bay Jets at Wolter Park.
Following a closely contested opening half, Moreton Bay took the lead in time added on when Matthew Zappone’s angled shot deflected sharply off Redland’s defender Nick Robinson.
However, the Devils bounced back impressively in the second stanza – Scott Bow restoring parity with his second goal in two weeks, the defender volleying home Graham Fyfe’s free kick on 52 minutes.
Another trademark Fyfe free kick five minutes later gave the visitors the lead, the midfield maestro stinging the fingertips of Moreton Bay custodian Christian Smith with a thunderous shot from 30 yards.
Jheison Macauce sealed the points for Redlands with a five minute brace - Macauce’s first coming as he chased down Zak Brattan’s through-ball then chipped the keeper, following up to tap in from short range in to an empty net. The Colombian secured his second shortly after when he tapped in Reuben Way’s cross from short range.
The win keeps Redlands in second spot on the NPL table, eight points adrift of league leaders Olympic FC, while Moreton Bay remain unmoved in sixth place and still well in the hunt for a top four finish.
FNQ FC Heat 0
Brisbane Strikers 4 (Josh MCVEY 27’ 67’, Clark BRADFORD 37’, Josh DE NITTIS 77’)
Crowd: 200 (approx.)
Brisbane Strikers have bounced back from last week’s heavy defeat to Olympic FC, slotting four goals past FNQ FC Heat to record an impressive 4-0 win at Endeavour Park in Cairns.
Josh McVey netted in each half for the Strikers while Clark Bradford and Josh de Nittis scored their first goals of the campaign to round out the result for the visiting side.
McVey’s opener came on 27 minutes, the 21 year old striker controlling well from Scott Coulson’s cross before slotting a well-placed shot past Heat goalkeeper Mikel Breckenridge.
Midfielder Bradford doubled the lead ten minutes later when he met Jonti Richter’s free kick on the lunge at the back post amid a crowded penalty area; the goal the first for the Englishman this campaign.
Heat sought to get back into the contest after the restart and were denied by the crossbar on 50 minutes when Cameron Morrison rose well to head at goal from a long throw.
The resurgence was short-lived though as McVey pounced again in the 67th minute, this time running on to Alistair Quinn’s well-weighted pass before slotting his shot into the bottom left corner of the net for his fifth goal of the season.
The visitors rounded out the performance when Cairns-raised substitute Josh De Nittis finished from eight yards to cap off a well constructed build-up from Coulson and left winger Greg King.
Despite mixed results of late Strikers remain in fifth position on the NPL table, one point shy of the top four with a game against Brisbane City still in hand; while FNQ FC Heat’s ninth loss of the campaign sees them remain in tenth position for the sixth straight week.
Palm Beach Sharks 0
Olympic FC 6 (Tim SMITS 5’ 20’ 31’, Matt HEATH 9’, Jai INGHAM 40’, Kazuya ITO 87’)
Palm Beach Sharks received a stark reminder of how far they are off the pace after being humbled 6-0 by NPL league leaders Olympic FC at Mallawa Complex on Saturday.
Tim Smits netted his second opening half hat-trick in as many weeks for the visitors, his haul adding to goals from Matt Heath, Jai Ingham and Kazuya Ito in the comprehensive victory.
Smits opened the scoring after only five minutes when he headed home courtesy of a pin-point cross from winger Ingham. Heath then extended the lead four minutes later when he finished a neat midfield passing movement with an assured shot at the top of the box.
Smits pounced twice more to extend his season tally to 19 goals nodding home again for his second from a Danny Byrne cross before running on to a well-weighted through ball to wrap up his hat-trick.
Ingham popped up to score for the fourth straight week when he slotted a well-taken shot past Palm Beach keeper Ryan Meskell and in at the far post for a 5-0 nil half time advantage.
Kazuya Ito chimed in late with his first goal of the season, the Japanese fullback taking advantage of lacklustre marking with three minutes remaining.
The win sees Olympic maintain their eight point advantage at the top of the league, while Palm Beach now find themselves 12 points outside the top four in eighth spot on the table.
CQFC Energy 1 (Jarod LANCASTER 9’)
Brisbane City 2 (Antonio MURRAY 68’(p) 80’)
CQFC Energy have continued their late season resurgence, holding their own against in-form Brisbane City before conceding twice in the second half to succumb 2-1 at Jardine Park in Rockhampton on Saturday night.
Recently returned Antonio Murray spared City’s blushes with two goals in the final half hour to see off a spirited Energy side, who were twice denied by the post as they attempted to pull off one of the upsets of the season.
Jarod Lancaster opened accounts on nine minutes for the hosts, the young midfielder scoring his first goal of the season after finishing off a neat one-two with striker Chris Geddes.
Energy held the lead into the break and continued their high-pressing game plan into the second half, the hosts looking to have City’s measure before the irrepressible Murray underlined his position as the league’s leading goal scorer.
The star strikers first came from the penalty spot after Energy’s Warrick Jansen was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area.
Murray then sealed the result in City’s favour when CQFC custodian Tim English misjudged a corner kick with ten minutes remaining, English’s unsuccessful intervention leaving Murray with a regulation finish.
The win sees City hold on to third spot behind Redlands and Olympic, however the Newmarket-based club still hold a game in hand. Energy remain in 11th with only two wins from 15 games this season.
Western Pride 0
Northern Fury 2 (Alex READ 15’, Michael EISENHUT 47’)
Northern Fury have put the travelling blues behind them, recording their first three points in the south-east corner this year following a 2-0 win over a ten man Western Pride in Ipswich on Saturday night.
The Fury’s free-flowing style was hampered by a bobbling pitch and intermittent rain, however the Townsville-based club’s quick passing proved too much for the home side who went a man down after last defender Devon Munn was red-carded for holding back Alex Read.
Read earlier opened accounts for Fury, netting his third in three games when he finished on the fly from a right-sided cross on 15 minutes.
Both sides spurned chances from the penalty spot before the break - Russell Woodruffe’s low strike saved by the legs of Fury custodian Brad Burrows on 27 minutes before Purdy produced a save of his own for Pride to deny Fury’s Reyze Kelly.
Shortly after the restard Michael Eisenhut doubled Fury’s advantage, the industrious midfielder dragged a bouncing ball back to his left foot and unleashing a solid finish for his second goal of the season.
The win keeps alive Fury’s finals hopes in seventh place on the NPL table, whilst effectively erasing Pride’s top four ambitions with eight games remaining in the regular season.
Words: Michael Flynn (Football Queensland)