Gold Coast Stars outshone by Academy

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Gold Coast Stars were unable to convert their chances in their 1-0 loss to Queensland Academy of Sport at Meakin Park on Sunday afternoon.

QAS head coach Darren Davies was beaming after the victory,

“I’m very happy to come away with three points,” he said.

It was a slow start for the Academy team, with Gold Coast gifted more time in their opponent’s half, but Davies praised the perseverance of his players.

“I thought the boys battled well on a very poor surface which made it extremely difficult to play the brand of football that we like to play,”

“Sometimes in life and football we have to grind out results and we’ve certainly done that today,” Davies said.

Throughout the match, the ball could be seen popping up on the uneven surface, which made pin-point passing a difficult feat and also saw a handful of mistimed shots from either side.

Bolstered by the return of injured players, and coming off an unlikely victory over Brisbane Strikers last week, Gold Coast entered the match as hot favourites.
The Stars lived up to the hype, absolutely dominating play in the first half. QAS struggled to keep the ball out of their half as the Stars relentlessly pressed to score first.

Their best chance came in the 10th minute, when Matt Hilton popped the ball over the defensive wall for teammate John Prugh to run onto. Met by a one-on-one with the QAS ‘keeper, Prugh’s low shot was well struck and had the ‘keeper beaten at full stretch, only for the ball to pass just wide of the left post.

QAS were simply left ball watching as Gold Coast ran riot in the midfield and set themselves up, time and time again deep in enemy territory. The young Academy side were relying solely on counter attack moving forward, with Kwame Yeboah and Elliot Ronto working hard. However the Stars defenders were no pushovers and easily shut down the QAS forwards when they approached.

Making the most of his time back on the pitch after injury had sidelined him for much of middle part of the season Matt Hilton was as fired up as ever, hungry for a Gold Coast win and was doing an impressive job for his team up front despite picking up a yellow card for challenging the ref.

QAS’ Erwin Buljubasic in pursuit
In the 35th minute, Hilton tested the goal keeper with a blistering strike that took strong hands to keep out. The ‘keeper Jakob Smith, defended it successfully before fumbling the ball back into play, leaving the home crowd gasping. But thankfully, Smith kept his composure and safely collected the ball.

Even with all these chances gone begging, Gold Coast looked the team most likely to score and when Prugh got the ball in the danger area right before the half, it looked like they might just get the breakthrough.


Strong with the ball at his feet, Prugh bulldozed his way into the penalty area with defenders hanging off him and took the shot just as the ‘keeper, Jakob Smith, came off his line. Smith, Prugh and a bundle of QAS defenders collided and the ball popped out behind the ‘keeper. As it trickled towards the goal and Matt Hilton advanced to give it a helpful nudge into the back of the net, so did a QAS defender who won the challenge and cleared the ball away.

Both teams entered the locker rooms deflated at half time with the score still at 0-0.

Into the second half, and the Stars picked up where they left off, putting the pressure on sitting high up the pitch.

Though struggling in the first half, QAS lifted their tempo and had a lot more spring in their step in the second term.

Then against the run of play Kenneth Dougall got a goal for Academy. From 30 odd metres out, his curling penalty kick caught the Stars ‘keeper, David Chambers, off guard and flat footed. Chambers reacted too late as the ball found its way into the bottom left corner of the net.

Chambers watches as Dougall’s strike skids past him
After going one goal up QAS seemed to spring to life, cutting off passes, and setting up opportunities to score again.

But patrons in the crowd would still be forgiven for thinking it was not football but a game of tennis they were watching, as the ball went from one end to another at a frantic pace.

Gold Coast were desperate to convert their hard work into goals. Lewis Marsh and Murray Goodwin, were running overtime to get the ball into the goal area for Prugh and Hilton to work with.

Another golden chance presented itself for the Stars with a long volley from Prugh leaving the QAS ‘keeper watching it sail over, only for it to dip at the last minute and hit the cross bar to come back into play. Luckily for QAS though, no Gold Coast forwards were on hand to pose any threat.

As the Academy defenders cleared the ball up the pitch, Kwame Yeboah pounced on the sleepy Stars defence, sprinted past his man and into the area, before being brought down in the pocket of the penalty area. QAS players called for a penalty, but the referee let it slide and play continued. The ball was whipped from the left and was met by Brandon Borrello’s head, whose shot was on target but defended well by the Stars ‘keeper.

In the dying minutes of injury time, a flourish of corners up the opposite end for Gold Coast threatened to result in an anti-climatic draw. But Smith was solid at the back for Academy, and his team held off the late surge to come away with a hard-fought 1-0 victory.

QAS now sit in outright fourth position on the ladder, with Kenneth Dougall’s goal pushing him into third position on the QSL MVP Points Tally.

Coach Darren Davies is confident his team can have a crack at winning the 2011 QSL title, but is wary of the competition they face in finals football.

“There’s a lot of good teams, it’s been a very competitive league this year which has been good,

“I think it’s been very healthy for the QSL,” he said.

Davies is proud of his team’s achievements and is looking forward to the challenge that awaits them.

“We’ve played a good brand of football all year, we’ve picked up more points this year per games than any other season in the QSL, so for my boys I’m very happy,

“We look forward to competing in the finals and hopefully doing well,” Davies said.

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