The FNQ Heat boys are unquestionably, on fire. Currently enjoying the view from the top of the NPL table with a four-point lead, they’re the only team to have not dropped a game with six wins from seven matches. It’s the best start to a season they’ve had in the club’s history and while it may be too early still to draw such comparisons, the local rag has already likened the Heat’s favourable journey thus far to Leicester’s fairy-tale-in-the-making season.
Coach Tim Campbell must be putting something in the cool-aid. His boys can’t put a foot wrong, on AND off the field. Gone are the days of banging on anything in sight and yelling slurry victory chants. The Heat boys are jiving to their own, rather orderly, synchronised beat, splicing a melody of tunes and slick moves together that wouldn’t look out of place on an episode of Glee. Check it: Seven News ‘FRESH PRINCE’
The success of the lads thus far could very well be found in their locker room antics. To have this sort of team spirit (and coordination!) off the pitch is a manager’s dream. Like Leicester, the Heat boys aren’t being greedy about their victories; knocking off their opponents by just a single-goal lead for the majority of matches.
Skipper Jamie Carroll is in tremendous form, finding the net when needed and making cameos in the NPL’s fantasy team of the week. Goalkeeper Kevin Ward is having a fantastic run too, along with Jamie Gosling, Joshua Pin, Ari Isman, Keiran Sanders and the Total Compression/QSN Player of the Month Charlie Beverley. In fact, the whole squad are showcasing the solid, well-oiled football that is keeping teams like Leicester progressing steadily ahead.
Yep, these fired-up lads really just can’t get enough of that winning feeling.
In the FNQ Premier League, Cairns outfit Edge Hill United FC have found similar success in the start of their 2016 campaign. In the lead up to tonight’s clash, Edge Hill fended off three other local teams in convincing fashion to earn them a spot in tonight’s showdown.
Until last week, like the Heat, Edge Hill could do no wrong. Coming away with 5-2, 2-0 and 6-1 results in their FFA Cup clashes, the local outfit aren’t shy of finding the net. Their first hit-out for the 2016 Premier League competition resulted in a 3-1 victory, but a 1-0 loss to last year’s runners up Stratford United FC last week finally put a hold on their impressive run.
Finishing fourth place last year, the Tigers lost steam early in the 2015 season through injury and player’s off-the-pitch commitments, leaving the central side struggling to find wins. So far this year, the tables have turned ten-fold. The side has two very talented goalkeepers at their disposal. Veteran Sam Ferguson has put his gloves up for another year and shares game time with sixteen year-old up and coming star Ciaran Church. Local legend Rob Wales has taken on player-coach duties, the veteran still displaying his signature solidness in defence. Star striker Michael Ortiz and winger Greg Vanderpluym have been nightmares for their opponent’s defence, the two gifted attackers displaying worthy performances that have elements of Jamie Vardy magic in the mix.
But despite the wealth of local talent and their impressive start, it’s going to take a whole lot of stepping up for Edge Hill to match that of an NPL side at the top of their game. The Heat are superbly fit, clinical in possession and not shy either of finding net. And they have team-comradery to boot.
The fact that the round five meet is taking place at Edge Hill’s home ground will perhaps work in Edge Hill’s favour to aid in levelling fitness during the match. Tiger Park is considerably smaller than the Heat’s home ground and is very narrow in comparison to regular football pitches. It can prove to be a bumpy ride for visiting teams who aren’t as well accustomed to the characteristic sandy patches and uneven blemishes that inevitably make way via wear and tear. So while the Heat may not be able to hunt down their local opponents with their fitness advantage alone, I don’t think that’s really going to be a problem for the current NPL leaders, at all.
Edge Hill United FC v FNQ Heat FC. Tiger Park, Edge Hill. 7:30pm kick-off.