The PlayStation® 4 NPL Queensland Premiership race will come down to the wire after Brisbane Strikers defeated Sunshine Coast FC 5-0 at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Sunday.
Apai Ukuno delivered a second-half brace for Strikers against their former Queensland State League rivals, complementing further goals to Greg King, Trent Clulow and Jesse Weimers.
The result moves Strikers level on points with Moreton Bay United with one match remaining for both sides. However, Jets remain top of the table due to a superior goal difference.
The match also marks the end to a disappointing 2015 campaign for Fire that will result in their lowest finish in three seasons of PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland.
Fire started the contest promisingly, finding the target twice inside the opening ten minutes via Reyze Kelly and Cameron Nairn, but failed to truly test Strikers goalkeeper Fraser Chalmers.
However, Strikers soon wrested momentum and fashioned a series of chances as Clulow, King and Josh Ahern drew saves from Fire custodian Kevin Downes.
The visitors delivered the breakthrough just before the half-hour when King delivered a curled a pin-point finish into the far side of the net – his third goal of the league campaign.
Plenty of back-and-forth followed, however neither side could add to the scoreline before half-time.
After the restart Strikers showed greater impetus and doubled their advantage after only two minutes – Clulow delivering a strong finish to extend his season’s tally to nine goals.
Ukuno added a third for the visitors shortly after when he headed in off the post for his first of the afternoon.
Fire sought to get back into the contest but Jacob Fulluck proved unable to beat Chalmers with a headed effort.
However, Ukuno struck his second midway through the half after breaking through the Fire line to wrap up the points – the goal his fifth of the season in only his third start.
The visitors pushed to the last as Clulow and Scot Coulson both threatened in the final quarter hour, while Fire’s best chance came amidst a late goal mouth scramble ultimately cleared by the Strikers.
Wiemers then rounded out the result in the final minutes – slotting home for his first ever PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland goal.
Speaking post-match, Strikers coach Kevin A’herne-Evans said he was pleasantly surprised by the five-goal margin.
“It’s always difficult to come here and leave with the three points but we felt really comfortable almost instantly into the game,” A’herne-Evans said.
Fire coach Paul Arnison said it was a disappointing return to end the season but that his thoughts are already turned to the 2016 campaign.
“We will come back, we will be stronger and we will be better for it. We’ve got six or seven young boys in the team again today and we will be better for the experience,” Arnison said.
Sunshine Coast FC 0
Brisbane Strikers FC 5 (Greg KING 28’ , Trent CLULOW 47’, Apai UKUNO 50’ 73’,Jesse WIEMERS 90’)