Sunshine Coast Fire needed extra time to seal a Preliminary Final date with Palm Beach in a 1-0 win against a plucky Peninsula Power outfit on Sunday night at Kawana.
Sofie Persson’s effort three minutes from the end of extra time was enough to keep the Fire’s season alive.
On a pitch that was worse for wear after the weekend’s rain, Sunshine Coast held the early ascendency in terms of possession and territory. On the quarter hour, Fire’s Kirsty Clifford delivered a beautiful cross into the box but was let down with no fellow players on hand to meet her ball.
Moments later, Kayla Moore launched the first effective shot on goal for the encounter but could only guide her effort straight to the waiting arms of Peninsula keeper Jess Scicluna.
Fire continued to create the better of the attack, firstly with Sofie Persson making a delightful run down the left wing. She evaded a number of Power defenders before sending the resulting shot into the side netting. A minute later she looked to play provider for Samara Christmas, the Fire attacker only able to send her shot straight to Scicluna from inside the six-yard box.
Power’s Nathalie Browne looked to provide her team with what they needed from several dead-ball opportunities in the first half but Fire custodian Katie Offer was equal to the task on each occasion.
Five minutes before the break, Christmas had a perfect opportunity to break the deadlock with a cross played into her from a corner but she could only get a timid header on the ball that posed Scicluna no issues.
Brittany Whitfield almost made one count on the stroke of halftime as she rounded the Fire defenders to launch a booming long-range effort that Offer collected as both teams went to the sheds locked at nil-all.
Fresh from the halftime talk, Peninsula came out of the blocks the better immediately after the restart as Whitfield delivered her side’s best effort to that point forcing the first real save from Offer.
Fire began to find their groove again with Christmas and Persson continuing to form a formidable duo that caused the Power defence headaches while Whitfield and Brieanna Watt did their part to try and do the same at the other end of the park. Watt for Peninsula and Persson for Fire in stoppage time were denied potential winners by outstanding saves from Offer and Scicluna respectively and with the scoreboard attendant untroubled, the match entered into an additional thirty minutes.
Midway through the additional first period, Tayla Gesch pulled off a remarkable last-ditch tackle to keep the Fire in proceedings as Watt zeroed in on goal then early on in the second period, Whitfield slid a shot across the face of goal.
Just when it looked like that penalties would be needed to determine the result, Persson was able to chip an oncoming Scicluna and with the crowd holding a collective breath, the ball ended up in the net for Fire to score the winner in the 117th minute.
Sunshine Coast now go on to meet Palm Beach in next weekend’s Preliminary Final from which the victor of that match earn themself the right to take on The Gap in the season finale.
Sunshine Coast Fire 1 (Sofie Persson 117’) v Peninsula Power 0