Brisbane Strikers have returned to the top of the NPL Queensland tree after a 1-0 defeat of Olympic on Tuesday night at Perry Park.
In a match of contrasting halves, Jheison Macuace’s strike mid-way through the second half separated the sides.
The Strikers got off to a shaky start, giving away the ball from the kickoff which provided Olympic with an early attacking foray before Tim Smits had a golden opportunity to take advantage of a Strikers defensive error, uncharacteristically sending his effort over the bar from eight yards with only Strikers ‘keeper Fraser Chalmers to beat.
The home side then began to compose themselves and get in their groove with firstly Greig Henslee sending a header over the bar and soon after Josh McVey and Trent Clulow combined only for Olympic ‘keeper Matt Acton to make a low save at feet on the ten minute mark.
Acton was called into action again five minutes later, unable to hold onto a high cross that fell for Clulow at the back post. When the custodian came off his line to make up for his mistake, it looked like the Strikers might have the opener but Acton had done enough though to narrow the angle and the forward sent his shot narrowly wide of the upright.
Strikers began to control the play and a delightful ball from Jheison Macuace on twenty-one minutes for Josh McVey was rocketed into the back of the net only for the men in yellow to be denied by the assistant’s flag, McVey deemed to be offside.
At the other end, Olympic looked like they were going to score against the run of play, Scott Bow sending a heading effort from a corner straight to Chalmers who denied the visitors with a sharp, reflex save.
Both sides had further opportunities to end the deadlock prior to the halftime break but neither side could bother the scoreboard attendant.
The opening to the second half was much cagier with neither side able to create clinical chances.
With both sides chasing the full three points to remain in the Premiership race, substitutes Apai Ukuno and Scot Coulson linked together in the lead-up to a well finished chance from Macuace. He slipped the ball past Acton from outside the six-yard box to give the Strikers a 1-0 lead midway through the second stanza.
Moments later, Macuace almost provided what would well have been the clincher. Leaping onto a Strikers clearance on the halfway line, he was able to use his pace to beat two Olympic defenders in a footrace but sent a skimming effort at the end of the movement across the face of goal.
The remainder of the match was bereft of further chances for either side to add to the scoreline as the home side collected the maximum points to stay in touch with Moreton Bay in the Premiership race.
Strikers assistant coach Ken Armstrong while happy with the three points, said both sides struggled with their efforts on the park, ‘I don’t think either side produced the best on the night in terms of technique and performance. It was a scrap.’
Olympic coach Jim Bellas reflected on his side’s effort, ‘It comes down to putting your chances away, we had more chances than the Strikers had. The boys never stopped trying and I’m proud of them.’
Brisbane Strikers 1 (Jheison Macuace 65’) v Olympic 0