Sharks Reach Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32

A second half goal to substitute Jack Boxell secured Palm Beach SC a second straight Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32 appearance on Saturday night.

Boxell’s 76th minute strike proved decisive as Sharks defeated Sunshine Coast community club Noosa Lions 1-0 at Mallawa Complex to become the fourth and final Queensland side to qualify for the national stages of the knockout competition.

However, Lions came close to sending the match into extra-time when Alex Barlow struck a penalty kick wide of the target late in the second half.

Despite being considered favourites going into the match the hosts battled against a resilient Lions side featuring a raft of former PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland players, including current Sunshine Coast FC coach Paul Arnison.

After a considered start to the contest, both sides were denied by the woodwork midway through the opening stanza – Sharks striker Roman Hofmann striking the underside of the crossbar with a fiercely struck effort before Craig Hawkins hit the upright for Lions at the other end ten minutes later.

Tim Jackson came close to delivering the opener courtesy soon after of Hofmann’s freekick, but saw his effort saved down low by Lions goalkeeper Sam Nickolls.

Sharks finished the half strong but proved unable to fashion the breakthrough before the break as Ethan Grimley also saw a shot saved by Nickolls.

The hosts struck the post again after the restart courtesy of striker Roman Hofmann before Jackson skied another shot over the crossbar just after the hour.

Ultimately, Boxell delivered the decisive goal only a minute after entering the match after being found at the back post by fellow substitute Josh Riis.

Despite battling to remain in the contest, Lions spurned the chance to level terms in the final minutes as Barlow scuffed an unconvincing penalty strike to the right of the post.

Speaking post-match, Sharks coach Grae Piddick expressed his relief at securing qualification following three hard-fought qualifying rounds – which included two penalty shoot-out wins against Broadbeach United and SWQ Thunder.

“It’s good to be back. We’ve done it tough this year but it’s all about winning in the end and getting through. So (we’re) really happy,” he said.

Sharks were the last Queensland club standing in the Westfield FFA Cup 2014, reaching the Quarter Final stage of the competition.

This year they join fellow second-timers Brisbane Strikers and FNQ Heat from NPL Queensland as well as Brisbane Trophy Superstore Premier League side Lions FC, who have qualified for the Round of 32 for the first time.

The quartet will be joined by Hyundai A-League club Brisbane Roar in the main draw, which will be held on Wednesday at 4PM LIVE on Fox Sports.

Palm Beach SC  1 (Jack BOXELL 76’)
Noosa Lions FC  0