Sunshine Coast FC (2) v Brisbane Strikers FC (2)
Fire’s stop-start season kicked back into gear with a home fixture against Brisbane Strikers. After two weeks off, Fire would be looking to get some momentum against their unpredictable opponents.
Fire got the game underway in near perfect conditions, but with the likelihood of a heavy playing surface following downpours over the preceding days.
Strikers started with the upper hand, probing the Fire defence, ensuring the reshuffled Fire side were on their toes from the outset. Dre Ngaha stepped into goal this week with the continued absence of Bradford Green, Ryan Tappouras slotting in at centre back alongside Herbie Allsopp and Luke Vancam, pushed into a more advance role. James Ridley admirably filled the right back position.
The game’s first clear opportunity fell to Fire in the 5th minute, Lachie Noyes doing well to intercept the ball in midfield and find Mark Shaw, he in turn he played Vancam through, but his decent effort just cleared the Strikers bar. Strikers continued their early ascendency, passing the ball with confidence and despite Fire always having the potential to break forward at pace, they had the diminutive Tanner Mathers to thank in the 12th minute as he brilliantly headed a goal bound shot off the Fire line, Fire also getting a lucky break immediately after when Strikers took a quick short corner and sent a shot that came back off the far post.
Fire’s strengths were displayed a few minutes later. Vancam this time turning provider to play in Mark Shaw whose electric pace saw him race clear of the Strikers defence and showing great composure, slammed the ball home from 12 yards to give Fire a 14th minute lead.
Ridley having a good game at left back made a good covering tackle as Strikers threatened to break forward, before Fire showed another glimpse of their potential in the 18th minute. Jett Brutnell found Shaw, his cross fell to Vancam before he squared to Kaidin Dawson who tapped in from two yards to give Fire a two-goal lead.
Fire were now playing some exciting fast paced, incisive football. Brutnell sliding the ball through to Shaw who was foiled by a terrific save by the Strikers keeper. From the resulting corner Shaw again came close forcing another great save from his back-post header.
Fire put together the game’s best move in the 24th minute, started by Ridley and some with some quick, instinctive passing through midfield by Mathers, Vancam, Shaw and Dawson, the latter was put through on goal only to be foiled by pressure from the last defender, the move deserving of a goal.
Allsopp then began a move involving Mathers and Dawson before Brutnell sent an effort narrowly wide in the 28th minute. With Strikers restricted to long range efforts that Ngaha was able to comfortably deal with, Fire continued to press forward, Dawson sending another ball into the box, Charlie Jeff showing a lovely touch to give Shaw another sniff at goal, Strikers happily conceding another corner.
As the referee signalled half time, an effervescent Fire could consider themselves unfortunate to have only scored twice, foiled by some good goalkeeping, but thoroughly deserving of their lead.
Half Time: Sunshine Coast FC (2) – Brisbane Strikers FC (0)
Strikers got the second half underway, but the impetus was still with Fire. Tappouras and Allsopp showing good, composed distribution from the back, Jeff and Shaw also showing some nice early touches. In the 40th minute Jeff played Shaw through for another 1 on 1 with the Strikers keeper who again made a fine block, Vancam following up was unable to turn in the rebound but earnt Fire another corner. Allsopps deep set piece was met by Jeff at the far post, but his effort was narrowly wide. Fire continued to look for a third goal, Shaw and Vancam putting the visiting defence under pressure Neo Anderson firing just over in the 43rd minute.
Fire would come to rue the missed opportunities however as Strikers clawed their way back into the game.
In the 44th minute as Strikers pushed forward, Ridley was adjudged to have tugged at a Strikers shirt in the Fire area and the referee awarded the visitors a penalty. Ngaha had no chance from the kick and Strikers reduced the arrears to one.
Anderson had another shooting opportunity in the 47th minute picking up the loose ball in the Strikers area following Fire free kick, the keeper saving again, Fire seeing the follow up effort also blocked. Ngaha showed good, confident, hands to make a save in the 48th minute before Strikers sent a free kick just over his crossbar in the 53rd minute.
Fire were beginning to tire, they started to concede possession too easily and were struggling to keep pace with the game, guilty of standing off tackles and too often giving the ball away to put themselves back under pressure. Mathers tried to buck the pattern with a lively run through midfield and was unfortunate when the referee brought play back for an attempted trip just as he shaped to shoot. The free kick from Tappouras was on target but comfortably dealt with by the Strikers keeper.
In the 63rd minute Strikers drew level, as they broke down their right a seemingly miss hit cross deceived Ngaha and unfortunately found the Fire net.
The goal seemed to galvanize Fire and bring them out of their slumber to set them up for a rousing final few minutes. First Noyes played a delightful ball through the Shaw whose goal bound effort was pushed away into the path of Vancam who could only nudge the ball over the bar. Vancam then found Shaw, who in turn fed Jeff, trying to wriggle into space in the Strikers area he was tripped, and the referee awarded the games second penalty.
In a dramatic finale Noyes struck the ball low to his right but the keeper saved, the referee then remarkably ordered the kick to be retaken, indicating that the keeper had moved too early. Brutnell this time stepped up to take responsibility for winning the points, but again the Strikers keeper saved, diving to his left before Strikers hacked the ball away and the referee signalled full time.
After another disruption to their season Fire were arguably a little rusty, but showed some wonderful attacking football in patches, flustered and ragged at others. But with injuries, a smaller bench, stand in goalkeepers and a reshuffled line up, Fire again showed character and belief that continues to give cause for optimism.
Full Time: Sunshine Coast FC (2) – Brisbane Strikers FC (2)
Player of the Match: Luke Vancam
Sunshine Coast FC (5) v Brisbane Strikers (2)
Round 16 saw a home game and the first meeting against Brisbane Strikers FC this season. This was also the first time this season where Fire has had a full team with everyone back from injury.
Sunshine Coast FC Fire were pumped to get out on the pitch after a couple of weekends of bye rounds. Sunshine Coast FC started to a similar tune as they have all season, controlling the game and placing a number of shots on goal without success.
Fire’s first goal came when Harry McMillan passed the ball to Matthew Becker to receive it again and score on the 12th minute.
As Brisbane Strikers FC restarted play, Sunshine Coast FC applied pressure immediately, a solid tackle by Maxx Demerutis to win the ball and deliver to Becker allowed Becker to make a strong run through the opposition’s defence and lay it off to Bryant for him to score on the 14th minute.
The game settled with both teams playing football and pushing towards their respective goals. The 28th minute saw a run down the right wing and cracker strike by Brisbane Strikers FC Jaiden Parker for the ball soar over Sunshine Coast Keeper Ben Nassiep’s head to place their first goal of the match on the board.
Sunshine Coast FC went into half time with a slight lead.
Half Time: Sunshine Coast FC (2) – Brisbane Strikers FC (1)
Sunshine Coast FC Fire returned to the pitch immediately looking to increase their lead. This came within the first two minutes of the second half when Dimitri Westwood-Pritchard laid off a quality ball for Bryant to take on the opposition and score.
Bryant was on Fire, he lined up for his hat trick after Westwood-Pritchard again delivered him another ball to place in the back of the net on the 43rd minute giving Sunshine Coast FC Fire some space to breathe.
Brisbane Strikers FC continued to fight and place pressure on Sunshine Coast FC forcing a number of errors and resulting in an own goal on the 54th minute allowing Brisbane Strikers FC to close the gap.
Sunshine Coast FC regrouped and looked to rectify their mistake. They continued their drive forward searching for the final goal to cement their win. This came on the 66th minute when McMillan passed the ball back to Demerutis for him place the ball in the bottom corner.
Full Time: Sunshine Coast FC (5) – Brisbane Strikers FC (2)
Player of the Match: Harry McMillan
Sunshine Coast FC (3) v Brisbane Strikers (4)
This was Fire’s first game against the Strikers for this season
It was also the first game for Fire’s newly appointed coach Chris Schultz.
The team came out strong and looked good attacking, Boshoff was able to get a shot on goal in the opening minutes and again in the 9th minute but was saved by the keeper.
In the 11th minute Fire tried again, some nice play started by Emery, moving the ball to Williams who played the ball off to Boshoff again for another shot on goal only to be saved by the keeper.
The hard work paid off in the 21st minute for Boshoff scoring the first goal for the game.
It was only two minutes later that midfielder Hyder weaved in and out of players trying to break the Strikers defence creating an opportunity for Vochteloo to score the second goal of the game.
Some great defence displayed throughout the first half by Halls-Tempest, Gray, Johnstone and Evans.
In the 39th minute Fire’s stand in keeper Cullen comfortably saved a goal but the Strikers hit straight back and scored in the 40th minute.
Half Time: Sunshine Coast FC (2) – Brisbane Strikers FC (1)
Strikers players were hungry for the ball, snatching it whenever they could and dominating possession.
The Strikers scored in the 49th, 53rd and 66th minute.
The Fire 15s seemed to get back into the game with only 10 minute to go.
Nelson took the ball and ran, outpacing the Strikers defence. Unfortunately the ball found the keeper’s hands.
The urgency to score was evident. Fire took a corner kick and Halls-Tempest went for the header. It looked promising but saved again.
A free kick was given shortly after. It looked promising again for Fire to score. Hyder went up for the header but the ball hit the cross bar.
Hyder scored for Fire in the 78th minute.
Full Time: Sunshine Coast FC (3) – Brisbane Strikers FC (4)
Player of the Match: Nicholas Johnstone