NPL Queensland Premiers Palm Beach Sharks and defending champions Olympic FC will meet in next weekend’s NPL Queensland Grand Final after winning their elimination semi-finals on Saturday.
Palm Beach Sharks v Brisbane Strikers
Palm Beach Sharks fought back from a goal down to book their place in the NPL Queensland Grand Final with a 2-1 win over Brisbane Strikers at Mallawa Complex on Saturday.
Substitute Jarrod Kyle cancelled out Matt Thurtell’s first half opener, before midfielder Troy Ruthven struck the winning goal for the Premiers with eleven minutes remaining in the hard fought semi-final.
Thurtell gave the visitors the perfect start when he netted the first goal inside two minutes, delivering a sublime lobbed finish over Sharks goalkeeper Shane Vitakangas from Jheison Macauce’s cross.
The introduction of Kyle on the hour added further attacking impetus for the hosts before he levelled terms on 65 minutes – finishing from Lucas’ nod-on after the diminutive attacker was picked out by Dragicevic’s lobbed pass into the area.
On 75 minutes the match boiled over after Lucas took offence to a heavy challenge from Strikers defender David Salin – the resulting melee seeing Salin booked, as well as Sharks’ McKay and Murphy.
The altercation only served to spur on the hosts though as Ruthven headed home the decisive goal only four minute later, stooping low at the back post from a corner kick and delivering a sliding celebration in front of the Sharks faithful.
The result consigns Strikers to a second successive semi-final defeat also after being eliminated at the penultimate round last year.
FNQ FC Heat v Olympic FC
Olympic FC are set for a second successive Grand Final appearance after downing FNQ FC Heat 5-4 in a see-sawing Semi Final at Barlow Park on Saturday night.
Olympic captain Danny Byrne struck the winning goal in time added on, adding to braces to teammates Rueben Way and Jake McLean.
Heat midfielder Alex Smith netted a hat-trick for the hosts, while captain Tamas Maffey-Stumpe also got on the score sheet in the nine-goal thriller.
Way opened the scoring on five minutes, chasing down a through-ball and slotting it past Heat goalkeeper Daniel Valcicak.
The hosts were level on 12 minutes when Smith capitalised on a free-kick, putting the ball into the top corner beyond the reach of Olympic shot-stopper Shannon Lancini.
Olympic restored their lead in the 19th minute, turning in an attempted clearance from a corner kick from close range.
A second Smith equaliser on 26 minutes saw the hosts back in the contest. Jamie Gosling made a surging run into the box and cut back to a lurking Smith who duly finished the chance.
Smith put the hosts in front on 54 minutes, striking his 21st goal of the season by curling a shot from 25 yards into the bottom corner of the goal.
Way again restored parity after the hour when McLean played a ball to Smits who in turn played in Way who steered home with a composed finish.
Maffey-Stumpe saw a header saved by Lancini before again restoring Heat’s lead with a header from a Smith corner kick.
The lead was short-lived though as Jake McLean grabbed his second just two minutes later by heading home a free kick from out wide.
A tense finish ensued as Valcicak saved consecutive shots from distance before denying Way with a sharp save from point-blank range.
With the match looking set for extra time, Olympic dramatically secured the win two minutes into time added on through their captain Byrne.
Fixture details for the Grand Final are expected to be confirmed by Football Queensland on Monday.
Image courtesy of Sam Wood/FNQ FC Heat