Hyundai Queensland State League – Round 8
Far North Queensland Bulls v Sunshine Coast Fire
Saturday May 15, 2010
Kane Frampton – Staff Reporter
It didn’t come without a fight, but the Sunshine Coast Fire have posted a 2-0 away victory over the Far North Queensland Bulls in Round 8 of the Hyundai QSL.
After 80 minutes of play, the Sunshine Coast’s seven match winning streak looked to be in serious jeopardy with the scores locked at 0-0. However Tyson Holmes and Shaun Blackman, who both missed last week through injury, struck late to keep the Fire’s impressive early season record intact.
The match kicked off in front a good crowd at Borzi Park in Mareeba, against a Bulls side which sat fourth on the table after solid performances in the early rounds.
Despite fierce early resistance from the Bulls, the Fire looked to have taken an early lead through captain Blackman when he found the net from close range. However, the ball was adjudged to have brushed Blackman’s hand in the process, so the goal was disallowed.
After this early frustration, the Fire were unable to assert their usual early dominance, with FNQ having plenty of attacking opportunities of their own. In an early blow for the Fire, striker Chris Bacon was substituted after picking up an ankle injury, leaving him in doubt for upcoming fixtures. He was replaced for the remainder of the match by Ryan Delahunty.
The Sunshine Coast were unable to break down the Bulls and find an opening goal. Half-time came with scores level and the game balanced on a knife-edge.
The Bulls tackled with intent after the break, determined to break their recent run of three consecutive losses. Without their usual dominance of possession, the Fire tried to settle on the ball and made the most of their opportunities.
As the game opened up, Tyson Holmes and Yuta Gonai had a greater influence. Gonai had earlier had a one-on-one with the keeper, but couldn’t put the ball away.
Aaron Brazendale was substituted late in the match for Joel Dempster, and it was Dempster’s corner kick that allowed the Fire to break the deadlock. Tyson Holmes arrived at the far post to head home on 82 minutes, giving the Fire the upper hand as the match drew to a close.
On 88 minutes, Blackman scored in similar circumstances to bury the contest, rising above defenders at the far post to find the net and secure maximum points for the Sunshine Coast.
Blackman was pleased to notch another victory on the road, but acknowledged that his side now has a target on its back, as every teams wants to be the one to break the Fire’s winning streak.
“We definitely got the result we wanted, but it’s only going to get harder as we go along. Teams are tackling harder and doing all they can to stop us from scoring,” Blackman said.
The Fire’s strength in midfield, defensive pressure and ability from set pieces were all reasons for victory according to the Sunshine Coast captain.
“I think we have two of the very best midfielders in the competition in Tyson (Holmes) and Yuta (Gonai). We generated plenty of chances and in the end scored from two set pieces. Also, we are definitely defending better as a team, although a few times we didn’t anticipate the play as well as we could,” Blackman admitted.
The long journey north was made easier by an extra day’s preparation for the team.
“The preparation was great, we left for Cairns on Friday night, and got a chance for a bit of a sleep-in and some free time on Saturday before the match.”
The Sunshine Coast Fire’s next match will be on Wednesday night, as part of Fox 8’s “Football Superstar” program. A select group of young players vying for a contract with the Brisbane Roar will take on the Fire. The young team will be coached by current Roar manager Ange Postecoglou. The match will kick-off at 6.30pm at Stockland Park on May 19, and entry is free.
As for the Hyundai QSL, the Fire’s next fixture is on Sunday, May 23 against the Queensland Academy of Sport. Kickoff is at 4pm at Stockland Park’s Western Fields.
Final Score: FNQ Bulls – 0
Sunshine Coast Fire – 2 (Holmes, 82, Blackman, 88)