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NPL Queensland: Old foes and new enemies

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Clubs new and old came together to kick off the new National Premier Leagues: Queensland division over the weekend, with some taking pride in bulging trophy cabinets and others harboring mirrored ambitions.

Uneven results akin to the now-defunct Queensland State League did arise, but the inaugural round nevertheless had its share of quality contests and spectacle.

Brisbane City 2 (Frazier 45', 60')
Olympic FC 6 (Howell 11' Ingham 34' Byrne 70', pen 89' Smits 72', 75')

Two historical clubs got the division underway with Olympic scoring four times in the final twenty minutes to run away with the competition's first-ever three points.

After the visitors went 2-0 up with ten minutes remaining in the first-half, City brought the Spencer Park support to life by leveling through Eric Frazier on the hour. However, Olympic bounced back impressively as captain Danny Byrne and one-time Brisbane Roar striker Tim Smits netted three times between them in 15 minutes. Byrne then added his second and the visitors' sixth from the penalty spot to round out an emphatic first-up win on the NPL's showpiece night.

Things don't get any easier for the Newmarket-based Azzurri when the Strikers visit on Saturday evening, while Olympic coach Jim Bellas will be confident of making it two from two as they host the QAS the following day.

Central Queensland Energy 0
7 Sunshine Coast
(Toovey x2, Frew, Dwyer, Lynch, Zammit, Bechar)

A thumping win must have made Sunshine Coast feel right at home in the new state top division despite opening their season away to Central Queensland.

The four-time QSL champions brushed aside the newly-formed Energy at Jardine Park to set the marker for title rivals and give their Rockhampton-based hosts an idea of what's required.

It was a heavy lesson for the new club, led by former Capricorn Cougars coach Joe Fenech, to learn, and they can put some of that knowledge into practice against Northern Fury next week. Fire will return home to meet Moreton Bay at Stockland Park.

FNQ Heat 4 (Morrison 38' Eigl 40', 84' Carroll 90')
Northern Fury 1 (Navarro 20')

A three-goal derby loss was not the romantic return to competitive football Northern Fury fans would have envisaged.

The deposed A-League club scored first through striker Jake Navarro away to Far North Queensland Heat (formerly the Bulls) but could only hold their lead for 18 minutes before the hosts moved a goal ahead before the break. The dismissal of 'keeper Dylan Hudson for a denying a clear goal scoring opportunity meant a result was likely beyond Gareth Edds' Fury and FNQ duly obliged; scoring twice more through a Paul Eigl second and one for QSL star Jamie Carroll.

Player-coach Edds will need to pick his squad up for a second consecutive away match, at Central Queensland's Rugby Park next week, while Heat can measure themselves against Redlands in Brisbane.

Western Pride 2 (Drager 34' Jordan 38')
Queensland Academy of Sport 2 (Yango 13' Riis 87')

An inability to hold leads and convert dominance plagued the promising performances of the QAS last season, but on Sunday they found an early confidence-boost at Western Pride's North Ipswich Reserve.

One of the squad's more experienced members, attacker Josh Riis, equalised in the 87th minute to deny Kasey Wehrman's newly-formed a club a debut win after they had gone ahead with two quickfire goals earlier in the match.

Peter Drager and Will Jordan were the goalscoring heroes in front of an Ipswich crowd with a new team to support in a crowded market.

Western Pride will travel further south to face Palm Beach in the next round while the QAS are away to Olympic.

Brisbane Strikers 2 (Taylor 20' Robinson pen 69')
Redlands United 1 (Macuace 88')

The round's other showpiece was a Sunday twilight match between two title favourites which saw Brisbane Strikers hold out a determined but underperformed Redlands United at the iconic Perry Park.

The Brisbane Premier League title-winners were short of their entire first-choice defence, but coach Matt Chandler was still underwhelmed by his side's showing. Pacey striker Josh Taylor showed good timing to score Brisbane's first and when co-captain Nick Robinson added a second from the spot midway through the second half, it appeared Strikers had done their job. United fought back, though, and almost forced a stoppage time equaliser after Jheison Macuace kept things interesting with an 88th minute fizzer.

The youthful Strikers side answered the challenge, preserving their lead to record an important result as they look to make a mark on another Queensland top division.

Moreton Bay Jets 3 (Brownlie 46', 51', 66')
Palm Beach Sharks 2 (82' 90')

Moreton Bay United finished the round on a high for the new clubs, jumping to a 3-0 lead over Palm Beach before the Gold Coast-based Sharks showed the spirit absent from the city's recent QSL participation with two late goals.

Former Roar, Swindon and Wellington Phoenix front-man Royce Brownlie was the star for the Jets, netting a hat-trick for the Brisbane Northside club which also plays home to fellow Roar and Phoenix alumnus Karl Dodd.

Palm Beach will fancy themselves to record their first points at home to fellow Southerners Western Pride next weekend while Moreton Bay face a stiff challenge when they venture to the Sunshine Coast.

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