Far North Queensland FFA Cup Wrap

Rose Calvert

Edge Hill United have progressed to the next stage of the FFA Cup after a convincing 5-2 win over Southside Comets in Wednesday night’s clash at Tiger Park.

In his new role at Southside, ex-FNQ Heat Technical Director Chris Collins fielded a young side that could only yield to an experienced and composed Edge Hill outfit. Veteran Rob Wales, who has stepped into a player-coach role for the 2016 season, took to the field alongside a few new names in the Edge Hill line-up. Notably for the night was 17 year-old Ciaran Church in goal who appeared confident, pulling off some good saves and playing the ball out well.

The Tigers set the tone for the match within minutes of kick-off with Patrick L’Orange heading the ball in to the top corner from a Greg Vanderpluym cross. Just minutes after striker Michael Ortiz was fouled in the box with Michael Lancini converting the penalty to give the Tigers an early 2-0 lead in the opening five minutes.

Continuing their attack on the young Comets, the Tigers pressed well with a string of through-balls in behind the visitor’s defence and some dangerous runs from Ortiz.

Despite displaying good levels of fitness, the Comets were slow off the mark and fell victim to rusty touches and panicked passing. Impatient play saw the visitors waste a handful of opportunities in attack with ambitious shots at goal from long range.

Some relief was granted for the visitors in the 38th minute after a through-ball for Kirito Higuchi was slotted home via a strong finish from the top of the box for a 2-1 standing.

The goal gave the Comets a boost who found some momentum in the latter end of the first half to pick up spouts of possession. But despite the momentary levelling, the Tigers looked more convincing in attack; a beautiful through ball coming from Gogoasa for L’Orange who was denied by Comets’ keeper Rhian Docherty.

It was a better second-half start for the Comets who were given an opportunity to even the scoreboard after Higuchi was taken down in the box. Maru Nitor-Zammataro stepped up for the penalty but hit the woodwork. Despite a promising start, the Comets were opened up down the right-hand side where the Tigers pulled off some strong play and weaved in a number of crosses, one of which off the foot of Ortiz aiding in the 3-1 lead via a clinical top-of-the-box-finish from L’Orange in the 63rd minute.

Seven minutes later the Tigers pushed the lead to 4-1 with Gogoasa deploying a cracker long range shot from 35 meters out. It was Gogoasa again who added to the goal frenzy with an 80th minute finisher inside the box.

The Comets tried hard to retain some composure with Dylan Bird making a few good runs down the left-hand flank. The ninth yellow card of the night was handed out to Church after a controversial call that saw the young keeper head to the near post to block a shot that was fired high above the goal resulting in the Comets striker toppling over the mitts of Church after the shot was released. Church contested the decision which remarkably resulted in a second yellow sending him early to the dressing shed with minutes left to play. Bird converted the penalty at the 85th minute with a more composed placement finish against Edge Hill’s Lancini who donned the gloves for the remainder of the match.

Edge Hill almost made it 6-2 straight from the whistle but offside was called to leave the final scoreboard at 5-2.

Across town at White Rock the Leichhardt Lions overcame Mareeba United Football Club 2-0 to give the 2015 premiers and grand final winners an early round one exit.

Both teams fielded new, young sides who displayed good passages of play during their respective start-of-the-season hit-outs. The Bulls failed to convert a penalty leaving the scores locked nil-all at halftime and were unable to add to the score card after hitting the woodwork on a few occasions. It was the Lion’s Jarryn Fittock and Simeon Malahoff who sealed the 2-0 upset with a goal-a-piece thanks to a double assist from Will Coulthard.

Innisfail Cutters made their progression on the weekend after dismissing James Cook University 11-2; Stratford Dolphins had the bye.