Words: Thibault Berthier | Image: Pine Creek Pictures
Gold Coast City coach Grae Piddick was pleased with his side's performance despite suffering a last ditch 3-2 opening day defeat at the hands of FNQ Heat.
Goals from Justyn Mckay and Sam Smith were not enough for City in their first match of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues season as a stoppage time strike from Heat substitute Christopher Sullivan sealed victory for the hosts at Barlow Park.
Mckay was on the finishing end of some good build up play in the 37th minute to give City the lead but it took Heat just three minutes to equalise after forward Christopher O’Hare won and converted a penalty to send the sides in level at the break.
Following a slow start to the second half where both sides struggled to create chances in the wet conditions a Kasper Holmbech header put Heat ahead in the 79th minute.
Sam Smith looked to have snatched a point for City as he headed home Matt Schmidt’s cross in the 90th minute to level the scores at 2-2.
However, it wasn’t to be for City as Heat substitute Chris Sullivan scrambled home a dramatic stoppage time winner.
Speaking post-match, Piddick said that overall he was pleased with how his side performed in the difficult conditions.
“I was pleased with how the team played in torrential conditions, on a waterlogged pitch, I thought we did well considering,” he said.
“We controlled large chunks of the match.”
Piddick was disappointed that his side conceded goals at a number of ‘bad times’ during the match.
“They say you're vulnerable five minutes after scoring. It was disappointing to concede twice at bad times.”
“Our concentration could be better, but it was very difficult for the players tonight in tired conditions.”
Piddick said a hamstring injury suffered by midfielder Nik Mirkovic in the first half proved to be troublesome.
“He is our fittest player, we can usually rely on him to play 90 minutes.”
“The early sub forced us to shuffle around a bit, leaving us with a few tired players at the end who might’ve come off otherwise.”
Piddick was impressed by substitute Smith who scored in his first competitive appearance for the club.
“He was good, he played in an unfamiliar position (left midfield), but the direct style we played due to the conditions suited him and he caused the opposition a lot of trouble.”
“There’s a lot to like going forward with him.”
City’s attention now turns to next weekend's first home match of the season against Brisbane City at Sports Super Centre.
Playstation 4 National Premier Leagues Queensland – Round 1
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Barlow Park, Cairns
FNQ FC Heat - 3 (Christopher O’HARE 41’, Kasper HOLMBECH 79’, Chris SULLIVAN 90+2’)
Gold Coast City FC – 2 (Justyn MCKAY 38’, Sam SMITH 90’)
Team: Ryan MESKELL, Jaiden WALKER, Martin VASQUEZ, Eoghan MURPHY, Matt SCHMIDT, Roman HOFMANN, Justyn MCKAY (Sam KING 81’), Lachlan REUS, Riley DILLON, Nik MIRKOVIC (Sam SMITH 44’), Jarrod KYLE (Ethan GRIMLEY 75’)'
Unused sub: Josh LANGDON