Sharks Survive Second Cup Shootout

Ten-man Palm Beach SC survived a second straight penalty shootout in Westfield FFA Cup Qualifying Round 6 to prevail 1-1 (4-3) against SWQ Thunder in Toowoomba on Saturday night.

Sharks conceded late after having goalscorer Nik Mirkovic sent off midway through the first half, but navigated 30 minutes of extra time to move within one match of a return to the Round of 32.

Mirkovic was earlier the hero for the visitors, putting them ahead in the 22nd minute as they appeared on track for a third match unbeaten in all competitions.

The attacker turned villain just 12 minutes later though as he was shown a straight red for violent conduct, handing Thunder hope of an upset.

Sharks regrouped to see out the half with their lead intact and remained ahead until the 72nd minute, when 17-year-old Nykodah Smith made the most of a scramble to pull the hosts level at 1-1.

Momentum might have swung decisively in Thunder’s favour had it not been for the resilience of Grae Piddick’s side, who held firm for the remainder of the match.

The Toowoomba team blinked first in the shootout but were given a reprieve when Pierce Clarke denied Lachlan Reus.

However, Sharks ‘keeper Ryan Meskell made a crucial save from the penultimate spot-kick to allow Roman Hoffman to seal the Gold Coast’s club’s passage through to Qualifying Round 7.

Speaking after the match, SWQ Thunder coach Chris Wilkes remained upbeat despite the harsh result.

“They’re a good football team,” Wilkes said of the opposition.

“Obviously the send-off helped. Unfortunately we conceded a pretty poor goal but over the course of the night, with that performance against last year’s Quarter Finalists, we can be pretty happy.”

South West Queensland Thunder FC 1 (3) (Nykodah SMITH 72’)

Palm Beach SC 1 (4) (Nik MIRKOVIC 22’)