Redlands United are one step closer to their maiden PlayStation® 4 NPL Queensland Finals Series appearance following a 5-1 win over SWQ Thunder at The Cleveland Showgrounds on Saturday night.
A brace from Player-Coach Graham Fyfe and hat-trick from Russell Woodruffe sees Redlands record a sixth straight win as they look to lock down fourth place ahead of close rivals Palm Beach SC and FNQ FC Heat.
Thunder will be left disappointed as the result does little to reflect their performance having dominated play for various spells and leaves them waiting another week to bag their first win of the season.
A delayed kick off only fuelled Thunder’s hunger as Keagan Sheridan, Nykodah Smith and Thomas Fanning kept Brendan White on his toes early with three attempts on goal in the opening ten minutes.
Redlands sort to battle their way back into the game after a slow start and were rewarded when Fyfe netted his 15th goal of the season just before the quarter hour mark.
Thunder’s Pierce Clark produced a stunning save to deny Elliott Ronto’s scissor kick attempt but failed to completely clear his line as Zac Graveson fed the ball back towards a waiting Woodruffe who thumped home in the 31st minute.
The gamble of starting Woodruffe in an attacking position to replace missing duo Nico Bechar and Lyndon Dykes seemed to have paid off as his volley in front of goal put the hosts up 3-0 four minutes after the restart.
Smith threatened to pull two back for the visitors not five minutes later but was unable to capitalise on his well-timed run that put him 1v1 with Brendan White before shooting just inches wide of the post minutes later.
Undeterred, Smith continued to wreak havoc with Redlands defence until he was rewarded for his efforts in the 75th minute, delivering a low clinical strike through a crowded penalty box.
Redlands killed off any chance of a late Thunder revival in the final five minutes as Woodruffe nabbed his hat-trick with a simple tap in before Fyfe delivered a free kick from out wide that curled straight for goal.
Speaking post-match, Redlands’ player Elliott Ronto revealed both he and his teammates will enter the final rounds with the belief that they can win all their remaining matches.
“We’re just looking to improve each week and get all three points from every game leading into the finals and we’re definitely striving for even top three,” Ronto said.
Thunder Coach Chris Wilkes was disappointed to leave the bayside club empty handed and felt they were the better of the two sides on the day.
“I think we outplayed them, and I haven’t said that too often but tonight if it wasn’t for a few individual pieces of brilliance from a couple of their older lads then I think it would have been a completely different score line,” said Wilkes.
Redlands United FC 5 (Graham FYFE 13′ 88′ Russell WOODRUFFE 31′ 49′ 85′)
SWQ Thunder 1 (Nykodah SMITH 75′)