QSL Wrap: Spirits lifted, Stars aligned

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Round twenty was undoubtedly a weekend for the little guys as cellar dwellers Bundaberg and Gold Coast recorded warmly-welcomed victories over more fancied opponents.

Meanwhile, it was a productive bye round for Far North Queensland as both of their nearest top-four rivals fell, opening up the real prospect of a second-place finish for the Bulls.

NQ Razorbacks 0-0 Capricorn Cougars

Capricorn’s finals hopes were effectively ended on Saturday night as they could only manage a goalless draw away to North Queensland.

The fifth-placed Cougars had three points on their mind as they traveled to Brolga Park in hope of reducing Far North Queensland’s eleven-point break in fourth, but were instead fortunate to escape with a point.

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Seventh-placed on sixteen points prior to the match the Razorbacks did well to contain dangerous Cougars attacker Sander Waterland but were unable to convert chances of their own and were eventually left to rue a missed opportunity to leapfrog Capricorn.

The shared points do little for either side as the Razorbacks could fall back to eighth if Bundaberg win their make-up fixture while Capricorn are all but out of contention for a top four finish.

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Whitsunday Miners 1-3 Brisbane Strikers
(Faithfull 68’) (Thurtell 15’ Sipi 80’ Angus 86’)

The Brisbane Strikers ticked off another task in their premiership to-do list on Saturday, scoring twice in the final ten minutes to deny title rivals Whitsunday a handy point in Mackay.

While a win for the Miners might not have greatly dented the Strikers’ commanding lead at the top, it would undoubtedly have fueled their momentum in the back end of the season and strengthened their hold on second place.

And when Dean Faithfull equalised for the hosts, who were missing talismatic striker Michael van Moolenbroek amongst a number of first-team regulars, those potential rewards seemed within reach. But, like the champions they seem destined to become, the ladder leaders responded with two late goals to deny last season’s beaten preliminary-finalists. Former North Queensland Fury fullback Lorenzo Sipi put the visitors in front with his second goal for the club before prominent midfielder Michael Angus wrapped up victory from eighteen yards.

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The Miners’ slim lead in second was not affected by the loss as Sunshine Coast slumped to another shock defeat, but they were unable to stop Brisbane from marching to a five-match break at the top with only seven rounds remaining.

Bundaberg Spirit 3-2 Sunshine Coast
(Davis 30’, 42’ Youngberry 76’) (Bechar 27’ Blackman 29’)

Eighth-placed Bundaberg Spirit produced the first stunning upset of the round on Saturday night, fighting back from two goals down to sink the reigning QSL Champions.

Bundaberg, last season’s wooden spooners, could have been expected to fall in a heap when Fire pair Nicholas Bechar and Shaun Blackman struck twice in two minutes prior to the half hour, but instead they responded with three goals to delight the home crowd.

Eighteen-year-old striker Brendan Davis provided the inspiration for Spirit’s turnaround, scoring twice before half-time to level the score and set the stage for Shane Youngberry to grab the limelight with a 76th minute winner.

The win was Bundaberg’s first ever over Sunshine Coast – whose horror slump has seen them lose four of their past six matches – and puts them in with a chance to climb over the North Queensland Razorbacks, who they host next round, and into seventh.

Gold Coast 1-0 QAS
(Dixon-King 28’)

Gold Coast football has endured a dark patch in recent times but on Sunday afternoon at Mudgeeraba Soccer Club, the Stars manufactured their own light in the midst of a still murky tunnel.

Dakota Dixon-King was the hero for the hosts, scoring the only goal, the all-important goal, as they overcame the Queensland Academy of Sport 1-0 for their first victory of the 2012 campaign.

While uncertainty still clouds the future of the Stars and professional football on the Gold Coast at large, Dixon-King’s winner just before the half hour mark was testament to the resolve of all involved, not least coach Simon Tanti whose mid-season appointment has coincided with a significant turnaround in form for the embattled club.

As Gold Coast hope to carry their confidence through to next weekend’s trip to meet the Bulls in Cairns, the QAS have no choice but to immediately regroup for a vital home clash with Whitsunday if they are to get back into finals contention.

Far North Queensland – BYE

RankTeamPBYEWDLFAGDPoints
1Brisbane Strikers FC172151170155546
2Whitsunday Miners FC1729443937231
3Sunshine Coast Fire FC17293537211630
4FNQ Bulls FC16385336201629
5Capricorn Cougars FC1725483641-519
6QAS Football1536093236-418
7NQ Razorbacks FC1724582232-1017
8Bundaberg Spirit FC1624392538-1315
9Gold Coast16211141067-574

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