Words: Michael Flynn | Image: Andrew Shaw Photography/Moreton Bay United FC
Gold Coast City captain Justyn McKay says his side will bounce back stronger than ever over the next week after falling 3-0 to Moreton Bay United in the final match of the PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland regular season.
On a frustrating night for the Premiership aspirants, City were unable to assert themselves on the contest at Wolter Park, effectively ending their hopes of claiming the league title.
The result means current league-leaders Brisbane Strikers are all but assured of wrapping up the Premiers title in the final match of the round against Brisbane Olympic, unless they are defeated by an unlikely margin of 13 goals.
Needing a win to recapture top spot, City were on the backfoot early against Jets, who capitalised on a pair of early defensive errors to claim a two-goal advantage via Alex Janovsky and Stephen Green inside the opening five minutes.
The hosts held their lead into half-time before Janovsky struck again early in the second stanza to wrap up the points – consigning City to back-to-back defeats for the first time this season.
City fashioned a number of chances but suffered for wayward finishing as Sam Smith, Justyn McKay, Ethan Grimley, Matt Schmidt and Jacob Boutoubia all failed to trouble Jets goalkeeper Jordan Thurtell.
City’s hopes of a comeback were dealt a further blow when substitute Boutoubia exited the contest early with injury, forcing City to close out the fixture with ten men.
Speaking post-match, McKay conceded his disappointment with the result but said the focus must now turn to Wednesday’s Westfield FFA Cup clash at the same venue.
“I think conceding two goals that early is going to unsettle any team, especially when there is so much riding on the game, and I don’t think we recovered from it,” McKay said.
“The quality of our final ball wasn’t there in the final third so that’s something we have to work on before Wednesday.”
“We have big games coming up and one positive is that we weren’t outplayed. We were our own worst enemy, so we need to look within now and we are determined to turn it around.”
City coach Grae Piddick said he has no doubt his charges will be back to their best in the looming cup tie and in the PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland Finals Series, starting next weekend.
“We didn’t play badly last week and it was a case of circumstances going against us. This week it was individual errors at the wrong time that ultimately cost us,” Piddick explained.
“But these are the players that have played very well all season and put us to where we are this year. I have no doubt they will respond and show their quality in the next game.”
“Like myself, these boys have high personal standards. They will be hungry to put their best foot forward this week and show they are the quality players that I know they are.”
McKay said the team’s close-knit nature will be a major catalyst to a return to winning ways in their next two fixtures.
“It has been a full-on few weeks and it is important that we get together and socialise away from football.”
“It is important to have a team bonding session and get the morale back up because we have a lot to play for still.”
“The league was the main aim but we have earned a spot in the Semi-Finals and in the FFA Cup and we are in it to win it,” he concluded.
City's PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland Semi-Final opponent will be determined at the conclusion of Sunday's Strikers and Olympic clash - with either Olympic or current third-placed side Western Pride looming as City's opponent depending on the result.
Fixture details for the PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland Finals Series are yet to be confirmed by Football Queensland.
PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues Queensland 2017 – Round 22
Saturday, August 20
Wolter Park, Moreton Bay
Moreton Bay United FC – 3 (Alex JANOVSKY 2’ 52’, Stephen GREEN 4’)
Gold Coast City FC – 0
Gold Coast City FC Team: 1. Matt STEIN, 2. Riley DILLON, 4. Martin VAZQUEZ, 5. Matt SCHMIDT, 6. Roman HOFMANN, 7. Justyn MCKAY (10. Jacob BOUTOUBIA 69’), 11. Nik MIRKOVIC (18. Jason CAMPBELL 46’), 15. Eoghan MURPHY, 19. Ethan GRIMLEY, 21. SAM SMITH (3. Oskar DILLON 77’), 22. Jaiden WALKER
Unused subs: 14. Benjamin LYVIDIKOS, 20. Joshua LAGNDON