Sunshine Coast FC (2) v Gold Coast United FC (2)
With three home games to left of the regular season and with chance of a finals run still possible, Fire entertained league champions Gold Coast United knowing they must take something from the game to keep their season alive.
Gold Coast got the game underway in difficult conditions, heavy rain leading up to kick off had left the field in a heavy and potentially difficult condition, but the visitors looked to make light of these challenges as they forced the early pace, winning a corner in the second minute and coming close with an angled drive after four minutes following a powerful run through the Fire midfield.
As Fire cleared another United corner in the 5th minute, they showed a glimpse of their counterattacking abilities with Dre Ngaha and Mark Shaw linking before the United keeper made the save. Fire broke forward a gain in the 7th minute as they began take the game back to Gold Coast, great vision from Ngaha looked to have played in Kaidin Dawson but the visiting keeper was again alert. The best chance of the early exchanges fell to Fire in the 11th minute, Ngaha created space for a shot but saw his goal bound effort hold up on the heavy surface and United scrambled the ball away before Dawson could reach the loose ball.
Fire, sensing opportunities would come had Shaw clear down the right in the 13th minute, his cross finding Ngaha who was denied by another fine save, Jett Brutnell first to react then saw his effort fly over the bar.
James Ridley played a good pass into Shaw who was duly clattered by a combination of Gold Coast players in the 14th minute, Dawson’s free kick again, just too high.
As the conditions slowly improved, Fire were toe to toe with the visitors, typically working hard without the ball to deny space or opportunities in the Fire defensive third, and when United did try their luck Bradford Green was in confident form, making an excellent reflex save in the 28th minute to deny a close range effort.
In general, and despite the more controlled possession of Gold Coast, it was Fire who did look the more dangerous attacking side, linking the play in middle of the park for Fire, Ryan Tappouras, Brutnell helped create several opportunities when Fire did have the ball. The first half’s final 10 minutes alone saw Herbie Allsopp send Dawson clear down the left to deliver a terrific cross from the left that just needed a final touch, Ngaha having a free kick saved after the ever industrious Lachie Noyes had been brought down and Dawson again foiled by the Gold Coast keeper as the two competed for a through ball, before a final Ngaha free kick in the 34th minute struck the wall and the sides went into half time level.
Half Time: Sunshine Coast FC (0) v Gold Coast United FC (0)
With clearing skies and emerging sunshine, Fire got the game back under way. Luke Vancam put through a searching ball that Ngaha was first to reach, hooking the ball over the keeper he was unlucky to see the ball land on top of the net, rather than in it. Not to be denied, he finally got the goal his performance merited with a wonderful piece of individual skill. With the half six minutes old and out of nothing he produced a 20-yard effort that arched over the keeper to give Fire a deserved lead. Shaw then saw a crisp strike saved minutes later and Fire also could perhaps have done better when the keeper dropped a 50th minute corner but no Fire player was within yards to take advantage. In the 53rd minute a clever Brutnell header to Ngaha allowed Shaw to play through but his opportunistic lob was off target.
Inevitably, United grew back into the game as the heavy pitch sapped energy from the players and Fire found themselves pegged onto the back foot, a superb run through the heart of the Fire team in the 54th minute gave Fire a warning as to dangers of standing off challenges, before the linesman flagged to award United a contentious 57th minute penalty. Green was beaten by the spot kick but valiantly got a hand to the ball but was unable to keep it out as Gold Coast levelled.
Fire felt aggrieved moments later as they sought to regain the advantage. Ngaha wriggling past challenges in the Gold Coast area and looking to shoot before the referee blew for an earlier incident rather than allow Fire the advantage, the resultant free kick a whisker too high.
Gold Coast then took the lead in the 63rd minute. Again, Fire stood off from putting in a challenge as United ran through the Fire team before squaring into the area where a calm side footed finish gave Green no chance.
A minute later Gold Coast had a guilt edged chance to wrap the game up. After dancing through Fire once more, the referee awarded Gold Coast a second penalty. This time Green was heroic, diving to his left he got a firm hand to ball and pushing it away before Vancam completed the clearance.
Galvanised, Fire pushed once more, and in dramatic fashion snatched an equaliser. Dawson scrambling the ball over the line as United desperately tried to clear with less than two minutes remaining.
An incredibly entertaining game full of commendable performances, Fire can be delighted to have taken their first point off Gold Coast, and arguably, can again come away from a game questioning how they didn’t take the full three points, a feat they must achieve against 3rd placed Lions next weekend.
Full Time: Sunshine Coast FC (2) v Gold Coast United FC (2)
Player of the Match: Dre Ngaha
Sunshine Coast FC (2) v Gold Coast United FC (3)
The fourth and final meeting for the season against Gold Coast United FC where the opposition travelled to the Sunshine Coast, which turned out to be not so sunny. Each of our contests have proven to be competitive where both teams have battled it out and provided an exciting game of football.
Today was no different with Sunshine Coast FC Fire looking to even the scores. Sunshine Coast FC came out strong looking to score early but Gold Coast United FC were strong in their defence and even stronger in their counter attack pushing Fire all the way. The first goal came on the 16th minute when Matthew Becker played the ball out to Jake Rocker on the left who delivered it back into Harry McMillan in the middle to score.
Gold Coast United FC responded relatively quickly with a goal on the 22nd minute to even the scores.
Both teams looked to gain the edge before entering into half time however, the scores remained the same.
Half Time: Sunshine Coast FC (1) v Gold Coast United FC (1)
Returning to the pitch the second half played out similar to the first half with an extra element to contend with as the rain came down. Both teams presented strong in attack with Gold Coast United FC stronger in defence.
Gold Coast United FC gained the upper hand on the 42nd minute with the first goal of the half.
Sunshine Coast FC equalised when Gold Coast United FC handballed the ball in the box resulting in a successful penalty taken by Becker on the 48th minute.
Gold Coast United FC broke the Sunshine Coast FC Fire defensive line on the 58th minute to gain the lead and see them out to the final whistle for a win.
Full Time: Sunshine Coast FC (2) v Gold Coast United FC (3)
Player of the Match: Matthew Becker