Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)
A brace from Rhys Saunders has seen Gold Coast City come out 3-2 winners against Capalaba in their opening BLK Silver Boot Group C encounter.
The match opened with a feeling out process as both sides looked had difficulties in gaining traction in the final third.
Gold Coast City played with plenty of width. Ben Litfin and Alex McCracken were the primary instigators of their side’s attack down the right wing early on.
Litfin linked up with his captain Justyn McKay who glanced a header off target before Litfin himself got into the box but just as he was about to pull the trigger, was shut down by a desperate Bulldogs defence.
Twenty minutes in, Gold Coast were awarded a penalty when Zack Coulson handled inside the area. Roman Hoffman stepped up and duly converted the spot kick.
Capalaba’s chance for an equaliser seemed certain as David Kai attacked on the counter when presented with a one-on-one chance against Viitakangas but could only knock it onto the upright.
Kai would feature again shortly after as Matt Jones brought him down on the edge of the box. Andy Thompson dipped a cracking free kick in that gave Viitakangas no chance and Capalaba were on level terms.
That goal seemed to provide the Bulldogs with confidence. After a Gold Coast defensive error, the ball was turned over to Sam Watt who danced into the penalty area, committed and then rounded Viitakangas to finish into an open net.
Protecting their lead, Capalaba then put plenty of numbers behind the ball for the remaining ten minutes of the first half to take the advantage into the break.
Rhys Saunders leveled the match again with a back post finish five minutes into the second half.
Troy Ruthven, returning to the club after a year at Victoria’s Bentleigh Greens, thundered a ball in that Capalaba keeper Sam Chandler looked shaky in holding but was able to recover in time before a lurking Nik Mirkovic was able to pounce.
Saunders tucked away his second on the hour as the Capalaba defence began to look a little rattled.
Ruthven almost claimed one of his own as he was played in from a free kick from near to the post but was deemed to have impeded Chandler in attempting to score.
The win sees Gold Coast City join the other NPL team in the group, Brisbane City, on three points after their win earlier in the evening against Albany Creek.
Gold Coast City 3 (Roman Hoffman 20’ (pen), Own goal 50’, Rhys Saunders 60’) v Capalaba 2 (Andy Thompson 28’, Sam Watt 35’)
Gold Coast City: Shane Viitakangas (GK), Matt Jones, Drew Jeskey, Eoghan Murphy, Roman Hofmann, Troy Ruthven, Justyn McKay, Ben Liftin, Lyndon Dykes, Nik Mirkovic, Alex McCracken, Daniel Dragecevic, Rhys Saunders, Morgan Saunders, Tim Jackson, Ethan Grimley.
Capalaba: Sam Chandler (GK), Joey Fields, Luke Watson, Zack Coulson, David Roby, Tim Dunn, Andy Thompson, Sam Watt, David Kai, Yuji Hirayama, Craig Brown, Liam Fisher, Sam Basnett, Liam Choules.