Hyundai Queensland State League – Round Ten
Capricorn Cougars v Sunshine Coast Fire
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Kane Frampton – Staff Reporter
It was far from a showcase for football, but the Sunshine Coast Fire have toughed out a 1-0 victory over the Capricorn Cougars in sapping conditions in Rockhampton.
A goal from Ryan Delahunty in first-half injury time was enough for the Fire to extend their winning streak to ten games, in what was a dour contest at Ryan Park.
A number of factors affected the Sunshine Coast’s preparation for the fixture. With much of the team suffering from the flu, playing a game of football on a warm Rockhampton afternoon was hardly ideal.
Add to this the tiring nature of travelling to Rockhampton on the morning of the match, as well as the suspension of defender Alex Henderson following a questionable red card last round. As a result, the runaway league-leaders needed to be on their game if they wanted to claim three points.
But in the opening minutes, the Fire looked listless. As the boys tried to cope with the conditions, the Cougars were unlucky not to go ahead early.
With Greig Henslee showing leadership in defense, the Fire rode out these early assaults and kept the match scoreless. With attacks breaking up on both sides, only a serious mishap in defense seemed likely to break the deadlock. But as the half wore on, the Fire found a bit of the attacking spark that has been present in spades throughout the season.
The Sunshine Coast found the vital goal on the stroke of half-time. Ryan Delahunty collected a pass, beat two defenders and lobbed the Cougars keeper to score a goal that changed the complexion of the match.
The Fire battled to maintain their slender lead in the second half. As the difficult conditions and day of travelling began to take their toll on the Fire, attacking chances were once again hard to come by.
With Henderson missing from defence, Ray Schultz had moved into a central defensive role, with Jonathan Rose coming into the side at left-back. Along with Greig Henslee and James Stinson, the defensive line had their work cut out for the full 90 minutes.
Although Tyson Holmes and Yuta Gonai both went close to scoring from distance during the match, Delahunty’s first half strike would prove to be the deciding goal, and the final whistle sounded for a 1-0 triumph.
Fire captain Shaun Blackman admitted the game was far from electrifying, but was grateful to record another three points on the road.
“I think from the start we were quite flat. It was a long day of travelling which seemed to take its toll, but this team has a winning mentality at the moment, and we’re keeping it up even though we aren’t always dominating games,” Blackman said.
Blackman named Greig Henslee’s leadership and workrate in defense as a major contribution to the victory.
“(Henslee) does his job without much praise, but he held us together at the back today.”
With 30 points from 10 games, the Sunshine Coast’s dream season is gaining some serious momentum. Next week shapes as a blockbuster, as the second-placed Brisbane Strikers travel to Kawana to take on the Sunshine Coast. After indifferent early season form, the Strikers have strung together back-to-back victories and will be looking to avenge the Fire’s Round 4 triumph at Perry Park.
The match kicks off at 4pm on Sunday June 6, at Stockland Park’s Western Fields.
The senior match will be preceded by the Under-19’s at 2pm, who have struck a rich vein of form in recent weeks. After going down 6-4 against the Strikers in Round 4, the Fire will be looking for a victory on their home patch.