FNQ Heat took a major step toward a return to finals football with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Olympic FC at Barlow Park in Cairns on Saturday night.
Olympic took the lead courtesy of Sam Cronin but were reeled in by two quick fire goals from Crios O’Hare and Josh Pin immediately prior to half-time.
The result extends Heat’s unbeaten run to five matches and brings the Cairns-based club to within two points of a top four finish with two matches remaining.
The win marks a league double for Heat over Olympic this season, with the 2013 Champions now slipping to fourth place on the table behind Redlands United on goal difference.
Both sides proved dangerous in the opening exchanges, with Olympic threatening from a series of early corners.
Heat were without leading goalscorer and midfield talisman Alex Smith, but still posed an early threat as Mqondisi Nkiwane and Jamie Carroll both spurned chances approaching the mid point of the half.
Olympic delivered the opener just before the half hour when Cronin tucked the ball home on the turn after being picked out by a cutback pass from Alistair Quinn.
However, the hosts delivered two goals in the closing minutes of the half to take the lead at the turn.
O’Hare squared the ledger with his sixth goal of the league campaign – shaking a defender to create space before bending his shot into the top corner of the goal.
Pin then edged the hosts ahead after pouncing on a rebound from a Charlie Beverley free-kick – his fourth goal of the season.
The to-and-fro continued early in the second half as O’Hare volleyed over the crossbar before Olympic leading goalscorer Tim Smits forced a save from Heat custodian Nicholas Mooney.
Mooney kept his side in the contest under increasing pressure from the visitors – shutting down Michael Lee one-on-one before denying a long range effort from Cronin.
Olympic dominated much of the final twenty minutes but were unable to find the equaliser admidst a myriad of chances.
Lee again forced a save from Mooney before Bow and Matt Mundy both threatened with well-struck efforts.
The visitors pushed until the last but their night was summed up when substitute Youeil Shol’s strike was denied by the post in time added on.
Speaking post-match, O’Hare said the win will boost Heat ahead of Tuesday’s Westfield FFA Cup clash against Oakleigh Cannons in Melbourne.
“These are the sort of games we need to win and we held on there at the end,” O’Hare said.
FNQ FC Heat 2 (Crios O’HARE 43’, Joshua PIN 45’)
Olympic FC 1 (Sam CRONIN 28’)