Gold Coast Knights FC claimed the NPL Queensland Championship on Sunday, defeating Olympic FC 2-1 in the Grand Final at Perry Park.
Knights opened the scoring in the 8th minute, Nicholas Panetta bursting down the flank to get in behind the Olympic defence, finishing past goalkeeper Brandon Cuminao at the far post.
It was a competitive first half, both teams creating further chances – and several Knights players getting in the book for unsportsmanlike challenges – but neither side was able to add to Panetta’s early goal.
Giving Knights some concern was notoriously-foolhardy forward Jarrod Kyle receiving his marching orders right before the halftime break, earning a second yellow card for an ugly stamp on the ankle of Olympic captain Steve Whyte.
A man down, Knights were happy to park the bus coming into the second half – Olympic dominating possession in the early portions of play.
Despite this, it was Knights who found the back of the net next, Oskar Dillon knocking home a free kick in the 64th minute.
A late 90th minute goal from substitute Kristen Waters gave Olympic a sliver of hope heading into injury time.
The comeback wasn’t to be though, Knights taking out the NPL QLD title.
Olympic Head Coach Ben Cahn was sedate speaking post-match.
“The result was extremely disappointing. We didn’t play as well as we could have,” he said.
“We were disconnected without the ball and lacked our usual creativity with it.
“Credit has to go to Knights, they were organised and were the better team on the day, and that’s what finals are about.
“They’ve set a benchmark in Queensland in terms of their financial backing and recruitment, which is great for the game, and now it’s up to other teams to develop the business models to keep up.”
Despite failing to claim silverware, Cahn was still proud of Olympic’s efforts throughout the season.
“Overall it’s been a great season, but it’s painful not to have anything to show for it,” he said.
“I’m gutted for the players and supporters, but to qualify for the [FFA Cup] Round of 32 two years running, and to make two consecutive grand finals after two or three years of no finals or FFA Cup football is a great achievement for everyone involved.”
Sunday, September 15
National Premier League Queensland – Grand Final
Match: Gold Coast Knights FC vs Olympic FC
Venue: Perry Park
Gold Coast Knights FC – 2 (PANETTA 8’, DILLON 64’)
Olympic FC – 1 (WATERS 90’)
Olympic FC Squad: 2. Jack GLOVER, 5. Steve WHYTE (C), 6. Matt MUNDY, 7. Shelford DAIS, 8. Kazuya ITO, 9. Christopher LUCAS, 11. Jez LOFTHOUSE, 12. Costa PSAROS, 17. Danny DRIVER, 19. Jean-Philippe LASM, 21. Brandon CUMINAO (GK), 29. James CUMINAO (Sub 46’), 4. Kristen WATERS (Sub 60’), 14. Erik PANZER (Sub 69‘)
Unused Substitutes: 1. Dakota SPRANGE (GK), 20. Charles SLANEY
Gold Coast Knights FC Squad: 1. Joshua LANGDON (GK), 2. Jaiden WALKER, 3. Oskar DILLON, 6. Roman HOFMANN, 8. Matthew SMITH, 9. Sam SMITH (C), 10. Max BROWN, 13. Jarrod KYLE, 16. Mitch NICHOLS, 17. Nicholas PANETTA, 23. Matthew SCHMIDT, 11. Jayden PRASAD (Sub 69’), 7. Luke MARSH (Sub 82’).
Unused Substitutes: 4. Danny MORTON, 15. Shannon BRADY, 20. Timothy ALLEN (GK)
Image credit: Patrick Leigh Kearney