Sunshine Coast FC held off a spirited fightback from Redlands United to prevail 3-2 at Cleveland Showgrounds on Saturday.
The Red Devils struck twice late in the second half but it was not enough to reel back earlier goals from Brady Cronk, Takumi Kinoshita and Kenya Takahashi as Fire recorded their third straight PlayStation® 4 NPL Queensland win.
Desperate for their first three points of the 2015 campaign, Redlands looked to set the tone early as Prasad directed his shot straight at Fire goalkeeper Dale Hill and Russell Woodruffe shot wide of the target.
The visitors started sluggishly in comparison but soon gained the upper hand with a number of half-chances before Cronk slotted the opening goal from ten yards following a scrappy build-up.
Fire maintained their momentum as Kaine Frew saw a stinging strike tipped over by Redlands goalkeeper Brendan White shortly after.
Only minutes later Kinoshita doubled the advantage with a poacher’s finish from close range.
Redlands sought a reply but Igor Sao Jose and Woodruffe both spurned chances, while White remained active in the host’s goal prior to half-time.
New Redlands recruit Lyndon Dykes entered the fray at half-time and proved lively in his PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland debut, shooting just over the crossbar minutes after the restart.
However, Fire furthered their lead just prior to the hour when Takahashi delivered a sharp turn to create space before delivering a well-placed finish.
Both goalkeepers remained busy in the middle stages of the second half as Hill denied efforts from Mitchell Bird and Dykes, while White again saved strikes from Reyze Kelly and Frew.
Redlands’ frustrations in front of goal continued when Graham Fyfe missed the target with a penalty kick with fifteen minutes remaining.
However, the hosts finally broke through in the latter stages of the half when Bird steered home a cross from Christian Trovato.
Substitute Elliot Ronto then set-up a dramatic finale three minutes later, winning possession before beating a defender and delivering a sharp finish to bring the hosts to within a goal.
Despite a frantic final flurry from Redlands, Fire ultimately held firm to record their fourth win of the campaign.
Speaking post-match, Fire captain Kelly said his side was finding their feet after an inconsistent start to the season.
“We’re building in confidence after each game and starting to gel together as well. We’re a young team and a fairly new team but we’re starting to click and putting those past losses behind us,” he said.
Redlands Technical Director Matt Chandler said a slow start cost his side but added that a draw would’ve been a fair result.
“Second half I did feel we were going to come back and draw the game and I thought we probably deserved to,” he said.
Redlands United FC 2 (Mitchell BIRD 79’, Elliot RONTO 82’)
Sunshine Coast FC 3 (Brady CRONK 21’, Takumi KINOSHITA 27’, Kenya TAKAHASHI 59’)