QSL: FNQ Bulls thump QAS in goal-fest

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FNQ Bulls have notched their second win of the Queensland State League season with a 6-2 Perry Park thumping of the Queensland Academy of Sport on Saturday evening.

A hat-trick of clinical Josiah Rusch finishes propelled Far North Queensland to an emphatic victory, lifting his side to seven points from only four fixtures this season.

The Bulls arrived at Perry Park, playing host to a double header due to A-League Grand Final-enforced rescheduling, on a warm afternoon hoping to regain momentum lost from a three-week break. The QAS, meanwhile, had hopes of recording their first points of the season following four straight losses.

The match was effectively an entrée to the main course later in the evening for Strikers-focused fans, but that wasn’t to diminish the intensity of the first 15 minutes.

While the away side settled into a rhythm quicker than their young counterparts, pinning back the QAS midfield and defence, the first chance fell the way of the designated home side in the 13th minute. Attacking spark Kwame Yeboah poked a defence-splitting pass from Sam Wilkinson’s knock-down for Ben Liftin to run straight through on goal, but the midfielder’s toe-poke was well blocked by the onrushing ‘keeper Michel Breckenridge.

Breckenridge was again required to deny Liftin when a neatly-worked opening around the FNQ penalty area was slid towards the far corner, kept out only by a desperate fingertip save that turned the ball around the post.

But it was the Bulls who took the lead in the 29th minute through right-fullback Alex Plowman. After Rusch had spurned a glorious chance from QAS ‘keeper Matthew Stein’s clearance error, Cameron Morrison’s subsequent whipped corner was powered home at the near post by a diving Plowman.

FNQ had begun to exert their dominance at this point and capitalised on a good spell by adding a second in the 38th minute as Rusch latched on to captain Victor Madrid’s superb pass through the middle of the opposition defence to finish coolly to the side of Stein.

The FNQ onslaught continued two minutes later when Stein flapped at Sauer’s floated corner, allowing Paul Ruiz to nip in ahead of the goalkeeper and nod into an empty net. That goal ended the Academy’s misery for the first half as their front three had barely sighted the ball while FNQ’s quick delivery to Rusch’s feet was troubling their scattered defence.

The second half began with a slightly fuller crowd as the Strikers squad, anticipating their own kick-off, joined spectators in the stands to observe their future opponents. They didn’t have to wait long to see more goals – a sloppy backwards pass from a QAS midfielder was intercepted by Nathan Bird who slipped Rusch beyond the lone defender. The striker steadied and hit a sweet finish beyond the ‘keeper into the far corner to make it 4-0 on 55 minutes.

The goal signaled a slump in the match before Kwame Yeboah netted a consolation for the Academy in 68th minute, outpacing his defensive marker and finishing through the legs of Breckenridge after Liften was gifted too much space to pick a pass.

The goal enlivened the contest as a flurry of clear-cut chances fell either way, including another close range block by the impressive Breckenridge, until man of the match Rusch ended the wastefulness in the 82nd minute. Breaking away from the stretched QAS defence, he completed his hat-trick in typical fashion by firing a powerful finish into the far corner.

Six goals had probably been enough entertainment by that point but both sides seemed compelled to further thank the spectators with an easy finish to QAS winger Josh Riis making it 5-2, only for the Bulls to restore the four goal lead in stoppage time as a freak own goal caught out the QAS goalkeeper and capped a 6-2 rout in favour of the away side.

The thrashing sees the QAS stuck in eighth, ahead of bottom-placed Gold Coast only by goal difference, while Far North Queensland have risen to fourth, four points from third-placed Whitsunday with two games in hand.

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