Brisbane Strikers moved to the top of the PlayStation® 4 NPL Queensland standings, battling to a 1-0 win over FNQ Heat at Barlow Park on Saturday night.
Strikers attacker Jheison Macuace struck the decisive goal midway through the first-half to extend Strikers unbeaten start to the season to four games and notch the club’s third straight win.
Heat saw the better of the opening exchanges but solid defending from Strikers duo Brad Savage and Greig Henslee stifled the hosts’ early chances.
Mqondisi Nkiwane failed to find the target inside the opening ten minutes before the visitors began to see the better of the play.
Scot Coulson tested Heat goalkeeper Kev Ward on 20 minutes before Chris Maher and Trent Clulow also forced saves.
The pressure directly led to Macuace’s match-winner on 27 minutes as the Colombian attacker curled in a first time shot from 15 yards.
Heat battled hard in response but were continually thwarted by a combination of desperate defending and classy goalkeeping from Michael Turnbull, who denied a double chance after Jamie Carroll pounced on a parried save from an initial effort from Alex Smith.
The bulk of the opportunities fell to Heat after the restart as the hosts predominantly threatened from set-pieces.
A goalmouth scramble with 20 minutes remaining offered nervous moments for Strikers, however the final touch continued to prove elusive for Heat despite the pressure.
The visitors spurned a pair of late chances to wrap up the win as Macuace and Angus threatened the Heat goal without success in the final ten minutes.
However, goalkeeper Turnbull proved the match-winner in the end – making two sharp saves in the final minutes to deny Smith and Shaun Owens and ultimately secure all three points.
The result lifts Strikers to the top of the table, with fellow high-flyer Moreton Bay United due to play their final match before the Easter break on Sunday.
Speaking post-match, Strikers coach Kevin A’herne-Evans praised his players fortitude, especially in the second half.
“I’m pleased about the clean sheet and the manner of the performance. It’s very uncharacteristic for the Strikers to be able to ground out a result,” he explained.
Heat coach Martin Docherty lamented his team’s inability to make the most of their opportunities in the contest.
“It’s most unusual I’m talking about not scoring and not taking our chances but one defensive lapse has cost us. It’s such a shame,” he said.
FNQ FC Heat 0
Brisbane Strikers FC 1 (Jheison MACUACE 27’)