Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)
Brisbane City and Redlands have played out a 2-2 draw in their round 21 NPL Queensland match with the result providing no clarity as to who will fill the fourth finals spot.
Graham Fyfe netted twice for the visitors while Nathan Bird and Mitch Hore scored first half goals for City.
The home side had the better of the opening five minutes, launching consecutive attempts on the Redlands goal. The best of those came after a half penalty shout to City after which the ball landed with Sam Sibatuara who sent a bullet-like shot straight to Redlands keeper Brendan White.
Redlands then had the better of the next five minutes. Jake Sherwood spotted Tim Allen off his line and launched a speculative attempt from 35 yards that ended up on the top netting.
Michael Lee played a ball through for Stephen Green that resulted in the striker only being able to scuff a soft shot straight to Allen.
From there, the ascendency went City’s way once more. After good lead-up play, Sibatuara again fired through a crowded defence and the result was the same as first time around with White grabbing the ball.
Both sides were having difficulty in getting out of their midfield and gaining traction in their front third. City were slightly ahead in that aspect though and their next best opportunity came when Koh Satake saw an effort blocked by Michael McGowan midway through the first half.
But it would be Redlands that would draw first blood against the run of play. Talisman Fyfe ghosted in at the back post and unmarked made no mistake to push his side ahead.
The hosts would find an immediate reply though Hore just two minutes later after he was able to evade the Redlands defence.
Both sides had good opportunities to score leading into the break. Lee was released and after coming up against a defender, played more centrally for Paul O’Brien who played a quick ball for Sherwood on the right that he subsequently placed narrowly across the face of goal.
Redlands had another chance from a customary Fyfe free kick. Kai Halliday was able to get a header on target that Allen saved in the nick of time with Michael McGowan lurking in close proximity looking to take advantage should the keeper have slipped up.
Despite that, it was City that went into the break with the lead scoring right on the 45-minute mark. Bird made a run through the centre of the park and despite three defenders tracking back, he was composed enough to calmly slot the ball between the pack and past White from near the edge of the box.
The second half became a tight arm-wrestle where clear-cut scoring opportunities were few and far between. The best came for Redlands during the first fifteen minutes when Green slid a ball across the goal.
Redlands line came under attack when Bird steered along the ground from just inside the box through a crowded pack with only a last-ditch clearance off the line stopping the advantage from being extended.
The visitors went the length of the park to restore the match to parity once again. It was another inspirational moment from Fyfe. After the quick clearance from White, the Scotsman was found in the box and with a delightful volley, put the ball across Allen that gave the keeper no chance.
The goal gave Redlands some newfound confidence and for a time began to find their creativity once more but without the joy of finding the net again. Lee had a late chance to claim the winner
The result leaves Brisbane City and Redlands on 34 points each and in fourth and fifth spot respectively, only separated by goal difference. Olympic can also move onto 34 points should they defeat Sunshine Coast Fire in their Sunday night match-up. That could set-up an epic three-way tussle in the final round to decide fourth spot on the table.
Brisbane City 2 (Mitch Hore 31’, Nathan Bird 45’) v Redlands 2 (Graham Fyfe 29’, 70’)
Brisbane City: Tim Allen, Greg King, Kai Smith, Scott Halliday, Luke Pavlou, Nathan Bird, Scot Coulson (Jason Park 89’), Koh Satake (Nathan Yoon 69’), Kai Barnes, Sam Sibatuara (Simon Biel 81’), Mitch Hore. Subs not used: Motoki Kakehi, Jake Clancy.
Redlands: Brendan White, Michael McGowan, Grant Brix (Delors Tuyishime 79’), Kai Halliday, Paul O’Brien, Jake Sherwood, Michael Lee, Stephen Green, Graham Fyfe, Adam Chandler (Igor Sao Jose 73’), Sam Langley. Subs not used: Jono Burrowes, Russell Woodruffe, Nick Danicic
Referee: Adam Kersey