The Gap v Palm Beach

The Gap FC Women are the inaugural NPL Queensland Women’s Champions after defeating Palm Beach SC Women 2-1 at Corporate Travel Management Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday night.

Victoria Stephenson delivered the match-winning strike for Gators midway through the second stanza to cap off a stunning comeback from the Premiers.

Leah Curtis earlier levelled terms for Gators in the first half after 2015 Golden Boot winner Deeanna Thompson opened accounts for the Sharks inside the opening half hour.

The result secures Gators the Premiership-Championship double in the competition’s first season.

Sharks fashioned the first opportunity of the match inside five minutes when Deeanna Thompson sent a shot into the side-netting after touching past onrushing Gators goalkeeper Noran Abaza.

Gators soon countered with two chances in quick time – Gabe Marzano forcing save from Sharks custodian Bianca Warrener before Ruth Blackburn sent a lobbed effort wide.

Thompson continued to threaten for Sharks but was denied a golden opportunity to open accounts by blocks from Gators defenders Bec Price and Catherine O’Neill.

However, the 2015 Golden Boot winner proved irrepressible and delivered the breakthrough soon after – slotting a composed finish past Abaza one-on-one to take her season tally to 36 goals after being released by a long-ball.

The Premiers sought an instant reply as Jess Dillon forced Warrener to tip over the crossbar before a goalmouth scramble from the ensuing corner saw the ball strike the post.

Gators didn’t have to wait long for the equaliser though as Dillon bested Warrener on the bounce from distance just after the half-hour with her seventh goal of the campaign.

With parity restored scoring opportunities were scant until time added on as a strike from Blackburn led to a trio of corners that ultimately Marzano saw shoot over the bar with the final kick of the half.

The Premiers carried their momentum into the second half as Blackburn continued to threaten with a pair of early chances – the second forcing Rosie Malone to clear on the goal line.

Sharks continued to ride their luck against persistent attacking raids – Marzano shooting over the crossbar and Warrener called upon to save a volleyed effort from Curtis.

However, the pressure finally told as Gators deservedly took the lead for the first time just after the hour – Stephenson delivering a first-time finish after running onto a pin-point pass behind the line from Marzano.

From thereon the bulk of possession and field position remained with the Premiers with only a determined Sharks defensive effort preventing them from double their advantage from a series of half chances.

The ever present Marzano saw the best opportunity to seal the win with five minutes remaining but was denied by another telling save from Warrener.

Sharks spurned a chance to level terms in the final minutes when Laura Sevil shot wide of the target.

A final long range speculator from 40 yards nearly delivered a dramatic final twist to the match, however Abaza managed tipped the floating shot over the crossbar to ensure victory.

The Gap FC Women  2 (Leah CURTIS 32’, Victoria STEPHENSON 65’)
Palm Beach SC Women  1 (Deeanna THOMPSON 24’)