Olympic FC surged into top spot on the PlayStation® 4 NPL Queensland table on Friday night after recording a comprehensive 3-1 win over Brisbane Strikers at Goodwin Park.
Danny Byrne and Rhys Meredith struck first half goals for the host before Sam Cronin iced the performance shortly after the restart.
Byrne delivered the first statement of intent following a somewhat cagey start to the contest, weaving through the midfield before sending his shot just wide from distance on ten minutes.
The hosts continued to apply plenty of pressure, with Costa Psaros forcing the first save from Strikers goalkeeper Michael Weier in the gloveman’s starting debut.
Strikers were reduced to ten players when influential defender Greig Henslee was shown a straight red card after using his hand to block a goal-bound header from Meredith.
Olympic skipper Byrne slotted the subsequent penalty kick into the bottom corner to put the hosts ahead.
Strikers weren’t without chances despite the numerical disadvantage – Cameron Draper sending a lobbed shot just wide of the target after the half hour.
Shortly after Olympic doubled their advantage as Meredith nodded home with a well-placed header from Michael Lee’s cross.
However, there was a glimmer of hope for the visitors prior to the break when Trent Clulow netted for the second straight week after delivering a first-time strike past Olympic goalkeeper Matt Acton.
The hosts restored their two goal margin early in the second half when Meredith turned provider for Cronin to strike a tidy first-time finish – his first ever PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland for Olympic.
The score could’ve blown out further if not for the efforts of Weier, who tipped a solid shot from Meredith onto the crossbar on the hour.
Strikers spurned a difficult chance to get back into the game midway through the half when Josh McVey lifted a shot over the advancing Acton that landed on the roof of the net.
Chances dried up in the final stages, however there was late drama when Olympic defender Matt Mundy was dismissed for abusive language in the final minutes of the contest.
The result marks Olympic’s fourth straight PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland win, whilst also handing Strikers their first defeat of the 2015 campaign.
Speaking post-match, Byrne suggested there was still room for improvement from Olympic in coming rounds despite their recent form.
“I wouldn’t say it’s our best performance but obviously we’ve gone four from four and we are picking up momentum along the way with what we would call an average start (to the season),” he said.
Strikers coach Kevin A’herne-Evans conceded the dismissal of Henslee was a turning point for his side.
“Obviously losing a key player like Greig is going to be really tough to readapt to, however, in terms of the result, I think Olympic started with far more desire and hunger,” he explained.
Olympic FC 3 (Danny BYRNE 22’p, Rhys MEREDITH 36’, Sam CRONIN 51’)
Brisbane Strikers FC 1 (Trent CLULOW 39’)