Grand final heartbreak for City as Western Pride claim the championship on penalties
Brisbane City’s Under 18’s suffered penalty shoot out heart-break in the National Premier Leagues Queensland grand final on Saturday afternoon, losing 4-2 to Western Pride after 120 minutes of football resulted in a 2-2 draw.
Two saves from Daniel Culpac from 12 yards consigned City to grand final defeat, although having wrapped up the Premiership the season will still be considered a resounding success for Luca Balestrazzi and his young charges.
Western Pride went ahead of their Premiership-winning hosts once in each half of regulation time thanks to goals from Jackson Bray, but sensational strikes from Ethan Wildermuth twice pulled City back level.
City played out the extra 30 minutes with just ten men after Rhys West was sent off with five minutes to go in normal time, but did not let that reality daunt them as City’s young gladiators came desperately close to winning the game but for a toe-poke save by Daniel Cupac from Marquez Walters.
With the rain thundering down upon the conclusion of extra time, Western Pride showed more composure in front of the club house to slot all four of their penalties, with City missing twice.
Having sown up the National Premier Leagues Queensland premiership on the final day of the season against the second-placed Western Pride,
With changeable conditions around the City, the Corporate Travel Management Stadium field was alternately bathed in sunshine and obscured by cloud, and the on-field action followed a similar pattern of changeability.
The opening goal was a sloppy one to concede, City failing to come out of the traps and getting caught cold inside five minutes as the effervescent Jackson Bray made the most of his opportunity to slide the ball inside the far post.
City looked off the boil and sluggish in that opening half, and needed something to spark them into action.
They needed look no further than the player who ignited the semi-final here against the South West Queensland Thunder last week, Ethan Wildermuth.
Both his strikes were worthy, the first a wondrous lob from 40 yards, the second matching last week’s corresponding effort for both style and execution.
For the first, WIldermuth picked the ball up in the midfield, spotted the keeper off his line and chipped a perfectly weighted ball just under the crossbar before turning, arms outstretched to bask in the adulation of the big crowd in the Gino Merlo stand.
To match that would have been almost impossible, so in netting City’s equaliser he went one better, curling a wonderful shot into to far top corner from 30 yards on the angle in traffic to spark City back into life having fallen behind for a second time.
In truth that goal came against the run of play, City struggling to cope with the high intensity press the Ipswich-based side employed throughout the first half, lead by Jackson Bray up front and big Jacob Kleinhans in the middle of the park.
In the second half both sides were more cagey in their approach, but as time passed the game opened up once more, allowing each side their opportunities.
The visitors took theirs first, some neat interplay in the attacking third springing the offside trap and allowing Bray to sneak in and poke the ball past Millard, whose feather touch could not stop the ball trickling agonisingly over the line.
But after City replied so emphatically through Wildermuth’s second, it may have seemed as though City could go on to win the double, but there were more twists to come as the heavens opened.
The sucker punch came with five minutes of normal time remaining, a red card to Rhys West after he reacted to something Jackson Bray said after a careless challenge.
Despite being a man down, City were the better in the additional minutes, time standing still as a Marquez Walters shot trickled onto the post after a glorious, length of the field run and through-ball by Hayden Russell and Cupac deflecting another effort wide when Walters was played in one on one.
Cupac was the hero then, and he added to his in the shootout, saving twice from Antonis and Walters to hand the Pride their second under 18’s championship in as many years.
Pride – Bray 4’ – 0-1.
City gave the ball away on the right allowing Jackson Bray the chance to shoot from the edge of the box and his effort flew into the far corner of the goal.
City – WIldermuth 34’ – 1-1.
Ethan Wildermuth picks the ball up in midfield and spots the keeper off his line, so dinks a lob just under the crossbar from 40 yards out.
Pride – Bray 70’ – 1-2.
Wilfrid Philip slid the ball in behind the defensive line to Jackson Bray who poked it past the outrushing Millard into the goal.
City – Wildermuth 75’ – 2-2.
Wildermuth shoots from 30 yards out on the angle, curling a peach of an effort into the far top corner.
Brisbane City: Antonis (saved), Simpkin (scored), McGuire (scored), Walters (saved). 2
Western Pride: Hyslop (scored), Bray (scored), Vuksan (scored), Phillip (scored). 4
Brisbane City: Millard, West, Hitchcock, Bassingthwaighte, Russell, Mills, Mueller, Williams, Walters, McGuire, Wildermuth. Subs: Uptin, Antonis, Simpkin, Hernando, McGuire, Lewis.
Western Pride: Cupac, Hannant, Piper, Hyslop, Trevett-Lyall, Rachita, Videla, Kleinhans, Phillip, Bray, Norris, Vit. Subs: Kabalu, Cathcart, Kitching, Vuksan.