Round 13 Preview
With the competition now almost at its half-way point last weekend’s catch-up results gave the true shape to the league table that had been missing while many teams had played two or more matches less than others. The Brisbane Strikers, QAS Football and North Queensland Razorbacks were the biggest movers, with the Strikers’ 3-0 win over FNQ Bulls putting them on the top of the table by a point from the Sunshine Coast Fire and with a game in hand. QAS Football’s win over the Gold Coast saw them close to within a point of the Bulls in the race for top four positions, while the Razorbacks took four points from their two games to latch on to the tail of the mid-table pelleton.
QAS Football v Brisbane Strikers, Saturday 16 June, Meakin Park, Slacks Creek at 6.00 pm
This game features the two teams who are, at present, arguably the two form teams of the competition in a game that they will both want to win, so an exciting game is in prospect. The Strikers are unbeaten in their last seven games and will be keen to ensure they do not slip up after climbing to the top of the table last week, while QAS Football have won their last five to be within a whisker of forcing their way into the top four. Both teams have exciting wide players when going forward so whichever team’s fullbacks perform the best is likely to get the upper hand. The Strikers have the advantage, however, of having the competition’s top scorer, Matt Thurtell, in consistent goal scoring form and should be bolstered this week by the availability of central defender Alex Henderson. The first clash this season between the two teams finished with the Strikers winning 4-0 but the QAS were without several key players that day (such as Brandon Borello and Alistair Quinn) and contributed to their own demise with some silly defensive errors, so supporters should expect a much tighter tussle this time around.
FNQ Bulls v Whitsunday Miners, Saturday 16 June, Borzi Park, Mareeba at 7.00 pm
Now here is a contest that is rich with possibilities! It features the third v fourth placed teams, with the Miners looking to close the gap between themselves and Sunshine Coast Fire in second, while the Bulls are feeling the hot breath of QAS Football breathing down their necks and need a win both to hold the QAS at bay and leapfrog the Miners into third. Throw in the memory of the last fixture between these teams, which was won 4-3 in Mackay by the Miners with a last-gasp goal after the Bulls had led by two goals, and you have a match with motivation aplenty. The Bulls’ last-up 3-0 loss to the Strikers was better than the scoreboard suggested and they should be strengthened this week by the return of striker Jo Rusch and defender Alex Plowman, who are both key players. In contrast, the Miners will have to do without the player who is perhaps their most influential – the suspended Clark Bradford – and must overcome the handicap of not having played for three weeks since they suffered their second defeat of the season when the Strikers beat them 5-2 at home. But with centre forward Mick Van Moolenbroek in great form the Miners will continue to pose a potent threat to the goal protected by Jack Richards. Borzi Park should be in for an eventful ninety minutes.
Capricorn Cougars v Gold Coast, Sunday 17 June, Jardine Park, Wondal, Rockhampton at 2.00 pm.
The Capricorn Cougars are still trying to recover the momentum they established early in the season, having not won since the last time they played the Gold Coast, way back on 1 April. Last Monday’s 1-1 draw with the NQ Razorbacks, however, at least broke a run of losses and a wretched sequence in which they were conceding three goals in each game, and this offers plenty of encouragement that they can shut out a Coast team on Sunday that is yet to register a point. Their dreadful results aside, though, the Coast are showing tentative signs of improvement, having held QAS Football to a 3-1 scoreline at home last week just a fortnight after going down 7-0 to the same team, so perhaps their first points are not far away if their opposition is not firing on all cylinders. Realistically, though, if the Cougars are ever to hoist themselves back into the chase for the top four this is the sort of fixture they must win at home, so Gold Coast can expect to find themselves up against a team that is determined to take the game to them.
Sunshine Coast Fire v NQ Razorbacks, Sunday 17 June, Stockland Park, Bokarina at 2.00 pm
Sunshine Coast Fire will go into this game under more pressure than they have faced for some time, with the Brisbane Strikers climbing above them with a game in hand by winning last week. This means the Fire can ill-afford to drop any points here against a Razorbacks team that is likely to be gaining in confidence following a long weekend on the road in which they took four points from a possible six. Their record against the Fire, however, is poor so Richard Hudson’s team, who have not been beaten in their last ten games, will have every reason to be confident they can do the job this weekend at home even without their midfield driving force in Tyson Holmes, suspended for this game following his dismissal in the 1-1 draw with the Strikers a fortnight ago. Provided they have enough thrust in the midfield to go forward and provide Shaun Blackman and Dakota Lucas with the kind of service they need to notch a goal or two, the Fire’s routinely stingy defence is likely to be able to cope with a Razorbacks attack that is still only scoring at the modest ratio of one goal per game. No-one has found the Razorbacks to be pushovers, however, so it is likely this contest will be hard-fought if the Razorbacks can overcome the fatigue that is likely to affect them in their third game within eight days.