Five matches on a blockbuster Saturday ensures the penultimate round of the PlayStation®4 NPL Queensland season will be the most keenly contested yet.
Redlands United FC v FNQ FC Heat
Saturday, 15 August / Cleveland Showgrounds / 3:00PM
The job is almost done for Redlands United – eight straight wins has resulted in a season-high third place and an almost guaranteed Finals Series spot.
FNQ Heat present the most prominent danger after coming from behind to beat Olympic FC in Cairns last week.
Only another three points is acceptable for last season’s Semi Finalists, but they’ve given themselves an outside chance of matching that effort with a run of five unbeaten.
Three wins and away draws against the top two mean they will have every confidence of overturning the hosts, for whom a point would likely be enough.
South West Queensland Thunder FC v Brisbane Strikers FC
Saturday, 15 August / Clive Berghofer Stadium / 5:00PM
Brisbane Strikers last weekend shed recent disappointment by returning to form in a 2-1 win over Palm Beach SC.
Saturday’s trip to Toowoomba presents the opportunity to return full focus to silverware with the chance to potentially finish the night in first.
Any victory will have to be achieved without defender Cameron Draper, who has joined Jheison Macuace and Jonti Richter on the long-term injury list.
Thunder, meanwhile, must overcome frustration from wasting a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 against Sunshine Coast.
Their most potent performance in recent memory suggests a closer contest than this fixture’s 6-0 Round 10 result.
Palm Beach SC v Moreton Bay United FC
Saturday, 15 August / Mallawa Complex / 5:00PM
Only maximum points will do for both the reigning premiers and the team in line to snatch that title.
Goals from Charles Mendy, Royce Brownlie and Alex Henderson ended Moreton Bay’s three-match winless run and settled the nerves after falling behind away to Western Pride.
Adam Piddick will hope another crucial road victory arrives on the Gold Coast, where bother Grae and his Palm Beach SC side can help prolong any inheritance.
The elder Piddick has one eye on Sharks’ upcoming Westfield FFA Cup tie and has flagged his intention to audition players for that stage.
Western Pride FC v Brisbane City FC
Saturday, 15 August / Briggs Road Complex / 7:00PM
In addition to mathematically ending their slim top four hopes, Western Pride’s 3-1 loss to Brisbane Strikers also saw the Ipswich team slide to 10th for the first time.
A third straight defeat means they remain within striking distance of Brisbane City, who were edged 1-0 at home by Redlands United last Saturday.
That result, following consecutive victories, might have been different had Mat Biggins’ first-half shot not cracked against the post.
City will instead look to lay the platform for their final two home games while Pride can target confidence ahead of a midweek trip to the Gold Coast.
Northern Fury FC v Olympic FC
Saturday, 15 August / Townsville Sports Reserve / 7:30PM
Olympic FC required maximum points from back-to-back northern trips to stay in touch with the top two but returned empty handed from Cairns last week.
That 2-1 defeat means there is still work to do in sewing up a top four place, with Olympic now needing points in Townsville to feel comfortable.
Northern Fury also fell on their travels and, with visits to Brisbane Strikers and Moreton Bay still to come, they will be keen to end their home engagements on a high note.
A similar performance to their 5-2 win over Strikers a fortnight ago would do just that.
Sunshine Coast FC v Brisbane Roar FC Youth
Sunday, 16 August / Sunshine Coast Stadium / 2:00PM
Sunshine Coast made it two wins in two last weekend to cast their campaign in an optimistic light once more.
Twin home fixtures to close out the season allows Fire the chance to parlay those victories into something of a late-year rebirth.
First up at Sunshine Coast Stadium is Brisbane Roar Youth, fresh from outmanoeuvring Northern Fury 2-0.
Without tough tests against Moreton Bay and Redlands United still to come, Young Roar will view Sunday’s match as their best chance to grab a ninth win of 2015.
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