Hyundai Queensland State Youth League – Round Six
Sunshine Coast Fire v Gold Coast Stars
A late flurry of goals has helped the Sunshine Coast Fire record a 3-1 victory over the Gold Coast Stars, the side’s fourth consecutive victory.
Behind 1-0 after 77 minutes, a late double from Josh Taylor and another from Kaine Frew was enough for the Fire to snatch victory on a heavy pitch in Kawana, in a game where the home side struggled to convert possession into goal-scoring opportunities for the bulk of the match.
The match kicked off with both sides eager to assert themselves early, but the waterlogged pitch was making possession difficult to maintain. The Fire had an early chance when Luke Lewis swung in an early cross from the right wing that just eluded Josh Taylor at the far post.
Although much of the play was camped in the Fire’s offensive half, the Gold Coast were largely untroubled in defence for much of the first half, and it was the visitors who nicked an opening goal on 26 minutes. With the Fire slow to move from defence, Tom Gladwins read the play well and stole possession, before moving into the penalty area and leaving Sam Nickolls with no chance from six yards.
With the Stars taking the lead in one of their first attacking moves, the Fire needed to win back control of the contest. Rhys Roberts forced a corner after his free-kick from 25 yards was deflected over the byline, and Taylor was unlucky not to force a save from Stars keeper Ryan Meskell when he connected with a header following the corner.
With half-time approaching and the Sunshine Coast rarely threatening in attack, Andy Gillen chipped a ball into the penalty area that was well blocked by the Stars defence.
The half-time whistle sounded with the Fire behind on the scoreboard and needing to maintain composure to get something out of the fixture. Minutes into the second half, Kota Shibahashi got on the end of a free-kick, but couldn’t get enough on the header to trouble the keeper.
Soon after, Mitch Broom drove a low shot at Meskell from just outside the penalty area, but the keeper got down well to make the save and force a corner. Broom was again involved from the corner, almost scoring in spectacular fashion when his long distance shot with the outside of his boot nearly dipped under the crossbar.
Midway through the second period, and the Stars almost ended the contest when Brendan Harvey forced a save from Sam Nickolls.
With the clock continuing to tick and the Stars clinging resolutely to their 1-0 lead, the Fire turned to all-out attack to find an equalising goal, and on 77 minutes they were rewarded. Frew found himself in possession near the left byline, and beat several Stars players before picking out Taylor inside the six yard box. With the keeper taken out of the equation, Taylor prodded the ball into an empty net to level the scores and delight the home supporters.
After 80 minutes of frustrating football, the game suddenly started to open up for the Fire. Although the scoreboard was still tied up, the Sunshine Coast had all the momentum and all the running. With seven minutes of regular time remaining, Frew was released one-on-one 40 metres out from the Stars goal, and outpaced the defence to move in on goal, and calmly slip the ball past the despairing dive of the keeper for a 2-1 lead.
Jubilant to have saved the game, it was 3-1 soon after for the Sunshine Coast as Lewis timed a cross from the right wing that fell kindly for Taylor, who knocked in his second of the match from close range.
Rhys Roberts went close to a fourth just before full-time but the matched ended 3-1, and the Fire would surely have been delighted to escape with three points after being 15 minutes away from their first defeat of the season.
The Fire will now have a fortnight’s break before they take to the field in HQSYL again, when the side will look to continue their run of good results against the South West Queensland 19s. The Round 7 fixture will take place in Toowoomba on Saturday, April 30.
FINAL SCORE: Sunshine Coast FC – 3 (Taylor, 77, 87, Frew, 83)
Gold Coast Stars – 1(Gladwins, 26)