Hyundai Queensland State League – Round 7
Sunshine Coast Fire vs. Bundaberg Spirit
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Kane Frampton – Staff Reporter
The early season dominance of Sunshine Coast FC is showing no signs of abating, as the Fire notched a 5-0 victory over the Bundaberg Spirit in Round 7 of the Hyundai Queensland State League.
In front of another strong crowd at Gympie’s One Mile Oval, the Fire dominated from the opening whistle and recorded their first clean sheet of the season on Sunday night.
Goal-scorers for the Fire were Chris Bacon with a double, as well as Corey Towle, Sam Knight and Ryan Delahunty, as the boys cruised to their seventh win from as many games and opened up an 8 point lead atop the Hyundai QSL table.
For the first time this season, the Fire had serious injury concerns coming into the match.
Injuries to key striker Shaun Blackman and talismanic midfielder Tyson Holmes forced coach Aston Bell to reshuffle his starting line-up. Chris Bacon and Jai Cross started up front, and Corey Towle was moved into central midfield to partner Yuta Gonai. Sam Knight and Aaron Brazendale covered the left and right wings.
For the Spirit, who were yet to record a win all season, containing the free-scoring Fire was always going to be a tough ask, and the Sunshine Coast had the better of the opening exchanges.
It was Corey Towle who had the first genuine opportunity of the match, when he fired high of goal from 20 yards after finding himself in space.
Minutes later, he found himself in a similar position and had another attempt. This time, his shot took a slight deflection and found its way into the top corner to give the Fire an early lead.
After being put on notice by conceding early, the Spirit did their best to ensure the floodgates remained firmly closed, but struggled to find possession against a Sunshine Coast side who were beginning to hit their straps.
Sam Knight went close to doubling the advantage from the edge of the area, and Aaron Brazendale latched onto a long throw-in and hit a scorching volley over the bar.
Bundaberg were caught cold more than once as the Fire transitioned seamlessly from midfield to attack. On 26 minutes, Towle released Jai Cross in the left of the penalty area, but Cross shot high with his left foot. Moments later, a backtracking Chris Bacon found Brazendale on the left wing with a tidy long-ball, but Brazendale’s cross was dealt with well by the Spirit’s goalkeeper.
After 39 minutes, a well-placed cross by Sam Knight found Chris Bacon, who connected sweetly with a header that looked destined for goal. Bundaberg’s keeper had other ideas, as he acrobatically tipped the ball over the bar for a corner.
Bundaberg almost snatched an equaliser late in the half when Elliott Causer went close with a header, but Antony Hall was well up to the challenge.
With only minutes to go before the half-time break, Bundaberg seemed likely to be only one goal down at the interval. However, Chris Bacon was rewarded for his perseverance as he raced the Spirit’s goalkeeper to a loose ball 30 yards out from goal. Bacon got the vital touch and rounded the keeper, allowing him to side-foot the ball into an empty net for a 2-0 lead.
The two-goal advantage provided the Sunshine Coast with some breathing space early in the second half, and they set about burying the contest. Chris Bacon had a brace on 51 minutes, bundling home from close range following a neat final ball from Jai Cross.
With the score 3-0, the Spirit were desperate to open their account, and a raid down the left almost yielded a goal, but the Fire cleared their lines well. After leaking a few soft goals this season, the Fire’s defence was intent on maintaining a clean sheet, and the central defensive pairing of Greig Henslee and Alex Henderson weren’t taking any risks.
A solo run from midfield by Yuta Gonai almost gave the Sunshine Coast a fourth goal, but his long range shot went narrowly high.
After 59 minutes, the Fire’s dominance of possession came through again, when Sam Knight steadied himself in the left of the penalty area and placed a tidy shot into the bottom corner.
With a 4-0 lead, the Fire could be excused for taking their foot off the pedal, but Under-19 striker and late substitute Ryan Delahunty had other ideas. In his first appearance for the Fire’s senior team, he caused havoc with his speed. He shot wide after latching onto a through-ball, and moments later picked out Chris Bacon in the penalty area, who hit the post with a low shot.
On 85 minutes, Delahunty scored a fifth goal for the Sunshine Coast, after a clinical left-foot finish beat the keeper at his near post.
In the dying stages of the match, a scuffle erupted behind the play and half the players on the pitch got involved, as captain Hall rushed out to defuse the situation. It took several minutes for players to cool off, and substitute Joel Dempster was issued with a yellow card for the Fire.
This proved to be the last action of the match, as the Fire played out injury time for a commanding 5-0 victory, and an eight point gap over their nearest rivals at the top of the table.
Coach Aston Bell was delighted that his team had a stranglehold on the game from the opening whistle.
“I thought we were in control of the game for large parts. We created quite a few great chances in the first half and the second half,” Bell said.
The 5-0 victory is the first clean sheet recorded by the Fire all season.
“It was something we really focussed on this week at training. We didn’t give Bundaberg a sniff, which was a tremendous effort from my lads. I said them at half time, if we can score in the first 10 or 15 minutes of the second half, it will be game over, but we can’t take our foot off the pedal.”
Sunshine Coast have now played, and defeated, every team in the competition. Bell believes the success of his team comes down to the endeavour of each player.
“We’ve worked hard all season and pre-season, and I think we thoroughly deserve to be where we are right now,” Bell said.
Next week, the Fire face their longest road trip to take on the Far North Queensland Bulls in Mareeba. Kickoff is at 8pm on Saturday, May 15 at Borzi Park.
Final Score: Sunshine Coast Fire – 5 (Towle, 6, Bacon, 43, 51, Knight, 59, Delahunty, 85)
Bundaberg Spirit – 0