Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)
Ari Isman’s conversion of a Jamie Gosling free kick proved the difference with the FNQ Heat collecting a 1-0 win over Brisbane City at Corporate Travel Management Stadium on Saturday night.
The Heat had strong claims for a penalty inside the first five minutes when a City defender lifted his arm inside the box as a Heat cross was delivered in the box. The assistant who had the better of the view elected not to raise his flag.
Kieran Sanders was allowed to go on an unmarked into the box shortly after but was unable to find the opening goal.
From there, the home side wrestled control of the match looking the better in attack.
Jason Park provided all sorts of issues for Heat right back Shaun Owens with damaging runs and continually linking up with Antonio Murray that placed several threats on the Heat goal line.
If Park and Murray were good for their side, so too was Heat keeper Kevin Ward producing several crucial saves to deny that duo. Ward’s most crucial save came when Murray attempted to dip a free kick from just outside the box but the keeper was able to deflect it over the bar.
A rare chance came for the Heat midway through the half when Darcy McCormack played a wonderful through-ball for Sanders whose cross to the back past was perhaps too good in not being able to be met by any of his teammates.
Owens turned the tables on Park later on after Murray released him. The Heat defender shutting Park down to clear for a corner.
Sanders continued to look the best for the Heat up front delivering a bullet from 30 yards out that narrowly missed grazing the upright.
With City dominating possession, Heat’s goal came against the run of play. After the Heat were awarded a free kick, Jamie Gosling pinpointed Isman who was able to power home past Allen.
That gave the Heat the momentum going into the break with Sanders playing Jamie Carroll in, committing Allen to a wonderful low save.
Both sides would have one last chance each before halftime. A Park free kick was punched away by Ward for a corner. From that corner, Park was almost able to score directly.
In stoppage time, Carroll almost caught Allen unawares launching a bomb from 40 yards that clattered into the upright.
Heat almost doubled their advantage immediately after the restart after a scramble inside a crowded six-yard box. The assistant’s offside flag coming to the rescue for the hosts.
It was then City’s turn with a scramble in their attacking six-yard box from a corner. Ward, who has made a massive improvement in his glovework from where he was two years ago, was on hand again with multiple punches on the ball to thwart the City attack.
Sam Sibatuara provided a deadly cross for Park with the ball narrowly sliding past him just as he was about to deliver on goal.
The match was devoid of clear-cut opportunities for either side during the midway stages of the second half. Although the play was end-to-end, the final touch was found wanting in the final third.
Park was developing a knack of looking to score directly from corners, Ward forced into another last ditch save over the bar.
From the second corner, City had the ball into the back of the net but referee Alex King deemed Kai Smith had infringed in the act of scoring and in the process picked up his second yellow card leaving City to finish with less than eleven men for the second week in a row.
With less than five minutes remaining, Heat could almost have found themselves down to ten as well with Sanders launching a willing challenge on Kai Smith. The Englishman perhaps finding himself lucky to see referee King produce a yellow card rather than one with a darker shade.
Brisbane City 0 v FNQ Heat 1 (Ari Isman 39’)
Brisbane City: Tim Allen, Luca Jannese, Kai Smith, Jayke Cuschieri, Luke Pavlou, Nathan Bird, Antonio Murray, Jason Park, Kai Barnes, Sam Sibatuara (Jean-Mike Jabo 78’), Mitch Hore (Nick Buckley 65’). Subs not used: Scot Coulson, Josh Cronk, James Harkin.
FNQ Heat: Kevin Ward, Shaun Owens, Shimon Watanabe, Charlie Beverley, Ari Isman, Jamie Gosling, Josh Pin, Jamie Carroll (Cam Nucifora 90+2′), Kieran Sanders (Mqondise Nkiwane 89’), Darcy McCormack (Crios O’Hare 78’), Bronson Koppen. Subs not used: Josh Wilson.
Referee: Alex King