NPL Round 20 Weekly Wrap
It’s been another exciting weekend of fixtures as Olympic sealed the premiership title and a gallant Northern Fury dropped out of the NPL Queensland finals race.
Review all the weekend’s results in the weekly wrap.
NPL QUEENSLAND COMPETITION TABLE
|2||Brisbane City FC||19||13||2||4||56||33||+23||41|
|3||Sunshine Coast FC Fire||20||13||1||6||54||21||+33||40|
|4||Brisbane Strikers FC||18||13||0||5||60||32||+28||39|
|5||Redlands United FC||19||11||3||5||64||34||+30||36|
|6||Northern Fury FC||20||8||5||7||44||39||+5||29|
|7||Moreton Bay United Jets FC||19||9||2||8||32||39||-7||29|
|8||Western Pride FC||19||6||2||11||30||41||-11||20|
|9||Palm Beach Sharks FC||18||5||1||12||30||49||-19||16|
|10||FNQ FC Heat||20||4||4||12||27||60||-33||16|
|12||Queensland Academy of Sport||20||2||2||16||21||55||-34||8|
Brisbane City 1 (Antonio MURRAY 79’)
Sunshine Coast Fire 6 (Alex BARLOW 14’, Leon DWYER 17’ 41’ 57’, James VERDIN 27’, Grieg HENSLEE 35’)
Crowd: 600 approx.
A hat-trick from make-shift striker Leon Dwyer confirmed Sunshine Coast’s NPL Queensland finals credentials on Saturday night after the Fire humbled Brisbane City 6-1 at Spencer Park.
Dwyer, playing his first game ever at the top of the formation, scored twice in the first half and once more in the second to record his first three goal haul of the year. Team mates Alex Barlow, James Verdin and Greig Henslee also netted in the win.
Despite a positive start, City found themselves two goals down inside twenty minutes – Barlow scoring the opener on the counter attack before Dwyer capitalised on a lack of concentration from City custodian Matt Stein to intercept a clearance and double the advantage from 30 yards.
Verdin added a third on 27 minutes after Wade Zammit won possession in the centre of the pitch and set up the young attacker, who finished astutely for his second goal of the season.
Fire captain Henslee headed his side’s fourth from a corner kick 8 minutes later before Dwyer flicked in Paul Arnison’s cross for a 5-0 halftime advantage.
Dwyer then iced his performance with his third goal prior to the hour mark, volleying a cross into the back of the net with authority to take his personal tally to 11 goals for the season.
City netted a consolation goal with 11 minutes remaining courtesy of a well-taken Antonio Murray free kick.
The win is Fire’s first in the Queensland capital this season after defeats at the hands of fellow finals contenders Olympic and Strikers earlier in the season.
The result also ends City’s hopes of claiming the inaugural NPL Queensland league title after cross-town rivals Olympic defeated Moreton Bay Jets on Sunday to be crowned premiers.
Redlands United 0
Northern Fury 0
Crowd: 200 approx.
Northern Fury’s late finals surge is over after the Townsville club played out a goalless stalemate with Redlands United at Cleveland Showgrounds on Saturday night.
Gareth Edds saw his first half penalty effort saved by Mitch O’Brien in the hard-fought contest that ultimately suffered for poor finishing from both sides.
Fury started promisingly against a Redlands outfit missing several key players including Graham Fyfe, George Barbarouses and captain Cameron Draper. Edds’ saved penalty attempt coming midway through the opening period after Robin Edwards was brought down by Dylan Stubbs.
Redlands spurned several chances in the second half as the usually reliable Jheison Macauce and Rueben Way failed to find the target, while Fury goalkeeper Dylan Hudson proved up to task rushing off his line.
The match is the first goalless result in the NPL Queensland senior division this season and ends Fury’s finals push in the club’s comeback season.
Redlands remain in fifth position and still in the running for a top four finish, however now drift three points shy of fourth placed Brisbane Strikers.
Brisbane Strikers 3 (Josh TAYLOR 65', Chay HEWS 67', Greg KING 87'pen)
Palm Beach Sharks 0
Crowd: 170 approx.
Three goals in the final half hour proved enough for Brisbane Strikers to maintain their hold on fourth position on the NPL Queensland table after defeating Palm Beach Sharks 3-0 at Perry Park on Saturday night.
Josh Taylor, Chay Hews and Greg King all scored in the second half for Strikers following a deadlocked opening stanza that saw Strikers denied by the woodwork.
The stalemate was broken by Strikers substitute Taylor on 65 minutes when he turned in King’s cross with a deft left footed touch at close range. It was Taylor’s seventh goal of the season and first score since May.
Veteran midfielder Hews doubled the advantage two minutes later when Hews offered a short option from Jonti Richter’s corner, the 36 year old then sneaking his well-struck shot inside the far corner of the goal frame.
King sealed the points, and capped off another busy performance, with five minutes remaining – the left winger sending Sharks goalkeeper Ryan Meskell the wrong way to convert his own penalty.
The win is Strikers’ fifth straight and sures up a likely top four finish for the former NSL champions. The club now sit three points ahead of Redlands United whilst also holding a game in hand on the fifth-placed Devils.
CQFC Energy 4 (Jordan MILLER 22’ 60’, Joel HARDWICK 42’, Kevin FRASER 64’)
Western Pride 2 (Devon MUNN 48’, Lincoln RULE 78’)
Crowd: 250 approx.
A brace from CQFC Energy’s Jordan Miller has led the Rockhampton based club to their third win of the season, defeating Western Pride 4-2 at Rugby Park on Saturday night.
The midfielder scored in each half for the hosts, adding to goals from teammates Joel Hardwick and Kevin Fraser, and cancelling out second half replies from Pride’s Devon Munn and Lincoln Rule.
Miller opened accounts on 22 minutes, the youngster firing a firm shot in to the roof of the net after being picked out at the far post from Hardwick’s cross.
Hardwick then doubled the advantage prior to the break when he bested Pride goalkeeper Steve Purdy in a breakaway one on one.
Pride responded following the restart courtesy of Munn, the young defender creating space and then heading home with authority from a corner kick for his second goal of the campaign.
However, two goals in five minutes soon settled the result in Energy’s favour – Miller scoring his second following a neat passage of passing in the centre of the pitch before Fraser unleashed a barnstorming run through the heart of the Pride defence and finished confidently for his side’s fourth.
An 18 yard strike from Rule scored Pride a consolation with 12 minutes remaining, but the visitors never seemed likely to reel in the home side.
The win is Energy’s first since their May defeat of Queensland Academy of Sport and keeps the Rockhampton club above the Academy in the battle to avoid the NPL Queensland wooden spoon.
FNQ FC Heat 2 (Cameron MORRISON 54’, Simon FERNANDEZ 84’)
Queensland Academy of Sport 5 (Jack BLADEN 12’, Sam SIBATURA 38’ 68’, Elliott RONTO 71’, own goal 88’)
Crowd: 750 approx.
Queensland Academy of Sport recorded their second win of the season on Saturday night, turning in a well-rounded performance to defeat FNQ FC Heat 5-2 at Barlow Park in Cairns.
The Academy finally delivered on their promise with a 90 minute showing against the ninth-placed Heat, with Sam Sibatura scoring a brace to add to goals from team mates Jack Bladen and Elliott Ronto.
Bladen opened accounts with his second goal of the campaign on 12 minutes, pouncing on a fumble from Heat goalkeeper Mikel Breckenridge.
Sibatura scored his first seven minutes before the break, running on to an early cross field ball over the back of Heat’s defence and finishing assuredly despite protests of offside from the hosts.
Cameron Morrison pulled a goal back for Heat following the restart – coolly finishing a one-on-one with QAS custodian Fraser Chalmers after running on to a lobbed pass.
Sibature responded with his second goal fifteen minutes later, running on to a defence splitting throughball and before passing his shot into the bottom corner of the goal.
Ronto then sealed the points for QAS with his fourth goal of the season 19 minutes from time when his snap shot caught Breckenridge flat footed.
Simon Fernandez netted a late consolation for Heat, only to see it cancelled out by an own goal from Shane Raso in the final minutes.
Olympic FC 3 (Danny BYRNE 44’ 71’, Tim SMITS 47’)
Moreton Bay Jets 1 (Royce BROWNLIE 50’)
Crowd: 900 approx.
Captain Danny Byrne scored a brace as Olympic FC wrapped up the inaugural NPL Queensland league title on Sunday evening with a 3-1 win over Moreton Bay Jets at Goodwin Park.
Byrne netted a goal in each half for the hosts, and played a leading role in Tim Smits’ second half goal, to lead Olympic to the premiership with two rounds remaining in the regular season.
The well-organised Jets stifled Olympic early, however as the opening half wore on the hosts proved more threatening – Jets goalkeeper Marko Radanovic effecting some sharp saves to keep scores level in the opening half hour.
Danny Byrne made the breakthrough just prior to the interval, the attacking midfielder controlling a cross from Matt Byrne at the far post and finishing with a low, hard strike from six yards.
The irrepressible Smits popped up shortly after the restart, rising high in the penalty area to head home from Danny Byrne’s pin point cross and double the advantage.
Jets replied three minutes later courtesy of Royce Bronwlie, the experience striker spotting Olympic’sMario Apparicio off his line and beating the back-peddling goalkeeper with a classy 30 yard lobbed strike.
However, Byrne fittingly sealed the points and premiership for his club with twenty minutes remaining – the skipper firing home on the volley at pace from a lobbed pass over the Jets defence.
In addition to the premiership title – Olympic’s first in a state-wide competition – the first-placed finish also assures Olympic of a home semi-final.
Jets now sit seven points shy of the finals placings, however, with a game in hand against Brisbane Strikers, can still qualify for the finals series.
Words: Michael Flynn (Football Queensland)