Sunshine Coast FC fell to a fifth straight defeat in all competitions after conceding an injury time winner in a 3-2 loss to FNQ FC Heat at Barlow Park in Cairns.
Skipper Tamas Maffey-Stumpe pounced in the final minutes to add to first-half goals from Alex Smith and Crios O’Hare to end Heat’s two-match stretch without a PlayStation® 4 NPL Queensland win.
The result sees Heat move to within two points of the top four amidst a congested mid-table battle.
An attacking start to the contest saw chances for both sides in the early stages with Smith and O’Hare combining dangerously for Heat.
However, it was Fire’s Ray Schultz that delivered the opening goal only ten minutes in after being played in by Kenya Takahashi – wrong-footing Heat goalkeeper Nicholas Mooney for his first goal since the opening round of the season.
Heat levelled terms only two minutes later when O’Hare benefitted from a cutback pass from Josh Pin to place his finish into the bottom corner.
The hosts continued to fashion shots at goal as Shimon Watanabe headed wide of the target before Smith forced a save from Fire goalkeeper Dale Hill.
Fire also saw their share of chances midway through the half as Jonathon Ladic and Schultz both called upon Mooney to save.
Smith remained a threat though and sedged Heat ahead just prior to half-time after being found by Charlie Beverley – Heat’s top goalscorer delivering a cultured finish past Hill to move into equal first in the Golden Boot race with nine goals.
Fire noticeably raised the tempo after the restart and soon fashioned a series of chances that saw Kenya Takahashi and Kaine Frew find the target.
For Heat, Smith continued to pull the strings in attack – sending a chipped effort wide before seeing an appeal for a penalty over-turned just after the hour.
However, the balance was again with the visitors with just under a quarter hour remaining as Frew turned in a cross for his second strike of the season.
Heat stepped up the pressure in response but the final touch proved elusive as clock wound down – O’Hare, Jamie Gosling and Jamie Carroll all sending efforts just wide of the target.
Ultimately though the host’s perserverance was rewarded as Maffey-Stumpe delivered the final touch admidst a goal-mouth scramble to secure his side a full share of the points in time added on.
Speaking post-match, Heat coach Martin Docherty acknowledged it was about time his side’s luck turned after making a habit of dropping points late throughout the season.
“I don’t think we got out of jail. I actually think we deserved to win and I’m just relieved for the guys because they put so much effort in there and they deserve a bit of luck,” he said.
Fire coach Paul Arnison offered that his side didn’t deserve to leave Cairns empty-handed.
“The boys are devastated in there but we will bounce back and be ready for next week,” he said.
FNQ FC Heat 3 (Crios O’HARE 12’, Alex SMITH 39’, Tamas MAFFEY-STUMPE 90+2’)
Sunshine Coast FC 2 (Ray SCHULTZ 10’, Kaine FREW 77’)