Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)
Redlands have come from behind to score a 4-2 victory over Gold Coast City at the Cleveland Showgrounds on Friday night. After taking the initial lead through Alistair Davis, a goal to Gold Coast City’s Nik Mirkovic saw the sides go into halftime deadlocked at 1-1. Jarrod Kyle put the surfsiders into the lead shortly after the break but a double to Michael Lee and a goal with five minutes to play from Michael McGowan ensured the Red Devils all three points.
A City turnover five minutes in saw Nico Bechar set up Michael Lee whose curled attempt fell wide of the top left corner of the net.
Immediately down the other end, Gold Coast had a corner. From the subsequent play, Redlands custodian Matt Lugo fumbled an initial shot but was able to recover in time before Tim Jackson could pick up any scraps.
A brief flare-up occurred on the ten-minute mark in an off-the-ball incident that saw Bechar as well as Gold Coast’s Martin Vasquez and Riley Dillon booked. The incident quickly defused by referee Nathan MacDonald.
Bechar was the player to watch in the early stages, playing full of confidence after having a blinder from all accounts in last weekend’s match against the New Zealand national team. The Frenchman made a jinking run into the box to beat several defenders, including committing City keeper Shane Viitakangas, before setting up Davis to put into an empty net from close range.
Bechar then attempted to get on the score sheet himself with another cutting run into the area. After an interchange with a teammate, he saw his curling attempt towards the top right corner go wide.
The latter part of the half saw Gold Coast City gain some confidence and impetus, a direct contrast to the first part where Redlands had control. Rhys Saunders played in Justyn McKay and with the defence hesitating momentarily, it allowed McKay a chance toward goal that found side netting.
Primarily only realising shots from long range, the visitors’ goal came when Mirkovic beat Grant Brix to get into the box and seemingly to the Gold Coast player’s surprise, he was able to beat Lugo at the near post.
Mirkovic almost became provider shortly before the break with a cross for Saunders who took advantage of Adam Chandler’s defensive lapse and at full stretch attempted to guide the ball into the goal from near the six-yard box but steered the attempt wide.
On the stroke of halftime, Kyle delivered a cross in to the six-yard box that Lugo was narrowly able to get to before the advancing Saunders.
Gold Coast’s momentum continued into the second half and they were able to take the lead as Kyle leapt upon a Redlands deflection and slot away from close range.
Just when it looked like Gold Coast would go on with the job, Lee put Redlands back on level footing with a speculative long-range lob after spotting Viitakangas deep off his line while all the keeper could do was to watch the ball sail over his head.
The game ebbed and flowed after that in an end-to-end affair. Saunders forced a sharp save out of Lugo then Bechar began to find his mojo again in threatening the defenders.
He was pivotal in Redlands third for the evening. A recycled cross from out wide on the right perfectly picked out a lurking Lee at the six-yard line to head past a stranded Viitakangas.
Substitute Graham Fyfe almost created something out of nothing, as he is wont to do, played a ball square along the goal-line that Viitakangas initially looked to have well covered but struggled to hold in a variable wind, almost taking the ball with him across the goal line.
The result was put beyond doubt when Redlands skipper McGowan struck a cross from a corner for the fourth to once again put Redlands into second and one point behind leaders FNQ Heat.
Redlands 4 (Alistair Davis 14’, Michael Lee 59’, 76’, Michael McGowan 84’) v Gold Coast City 2 (Nik Mirkovic 34’, Jarrod Kyle 51’)
Shots on target 5-7
Shots off target 4-5
Redlands: Matt Lugo, Grant Brix, Kai Halliday, Paul O’Brien (Sam Langley 86’), Greg Warden, Michael Lee, Nico Bechar, Adam Chandler, Nick Danicic (Graham Fyfe 60’), Michael McGowan, Alistair Davis. Subs not used: Russell Woodruffe, Doyle Bissett, Jono Burrowes.
Gold Coast City: Shane Viitakangas, Tim Jackson (Zamin Tselepy 84’), Martin Vasquez, Riley Dillon (Benji Lyvidikos 72’), Justyn McKay, Jarrod Kyle, Ben Litfin, Nik Mirkovic (Daniel Dragecevic 72’), Lochlan Reus, Rhys Saunders, Jordan Lampard. Subs not used: Austin Ludwik,, Josh Langdon.
Referee: Nathan MacDonald