FNQ Heat will return to the FFA Cup Round of 32 for a second straight year after cruising past Frenchville SC 7-1 at Ryan Park in Rockhampton on Sunday.
Heat are the first Queensland club to qualify for the national stage of the competition in 2015, which may see the NPL Queensland side drawn against a Hyundai A-League club in the following rounds.
Heat progressed on the back of a hat-trick to star midfielder Alex Smith and a brace to Crios O’Hare, with further goals provided by Jamie Gosling and Jamie Carroll.
Frenchville found consolation with a penalty from former CQFC Energy player Jordan Millar in the final minutes.
Despite parochial local support for Frenchville, Heat dominated the contest from the outset against their third-tier Central Queensland Premier League opponents.
Smith netted the first of the night less than ten minutes in after delivering an opportunistic finish to a loose ball in the box.
Heat created a flurry of further opportunities before Smith doubled the advantage just after the half-hour with a pin-point 20-yard finish into the bottom corner of the goal.
Four minutes later O’Hare delivered the visitors a three-goal half-time advantage with a sharp snapshot from just inside the edge of the area.
Smith remained a constant menace after the restart and turned provider for Heat’s fourth goal before the hour – delivering a corner to Gosling on the edge of the box, who in turn beat several defenders before rifling home the finish.
Smith then rounded out his hat-trick with a powerful strike as part of a three-pronged counter attack with support from O’Hare and David Di Luchio with a quarter hour remaining.
With the win effectively assured, Heat continued added two further goals in the following five minutes.
Carroll delivered a clever chipped finish into the top corner on 77 minutes before O’Hare slotted a first-time strike from a cut-back only two minutes later to secure his double.
A controversial penalty call against Heat goalkeeper Nick Mooney spoiled Heat’s hopes of a clean sheet in the final minutes – Millar converting with a firm strike from the spot.
Heat will now await the FFA Cup Round of 32 draw later this year, where they will be joined by A-League powerhouse Brisbane Roar and three other qualifying Queensland clubs.
Frenchville SC 1 (Jordan Millar 85’ (pen)) v FNQ FC Heat 7 (Alex Smith 8’, 32’, 75’, Crios O’Hare 36’ ,79’, Jamie Gosling 52’, Jamie Carroll 77’)