Redlands United travel to Beenleigh on Saturday after giving their Veto Premier League survival hopes a huge boost with a stunning 3-2 victory against last seasons Premiers Peninsular Power on Saturday evening.
The opening minutes replicated last weeks game at Olympic with Redlands taking the lead in the 3rd minute through Haydn Eames, only to see that lead disappear in the 7th minute when poor defending allowed gifted Power the simplest of goals from close range. The opening exchanges were frantic and in the following nine minute period Jack Lyons shot just wide and Haydn Eames shot just over for Redlands, whilst Power came close with a Warren Moon free kick, a goal bound shot that was cleared off the line by Devils defender Nevin Saroya and a penalty appeal that was waved away by referee Jim Bellos.
As the half hour approached Danny Byrne intercepted a poor back pass and ran in one on one with Power keeper Jordan Buchanan, but as Byrne appeared to be caught in two minds, the keeper raced off his line to smother at the striker’s feet. That was to be the closest Redlands were to come in the half that was then dominated by Power. They looked to get the ball forward to the skillful Warren Moon as often as possible, with their two wide players pushing forward quickly to support their attacking forays. Devils keeper Mitch O’Brien reacted well to tip a fierce goal bound drive wide of his left hand post as Redlands scrambled to repel constant Power pressure. It appeared improbable that the sides would go into the break locked at 1-1, but for all their possession Power could not find a way to break the deadlock.
The second half resumed, but after only four minutes German striker Chris Arslan went down clutching his ankle in obvious distress after an accidental coming together with a Power defender. Arslan was immediately stretchered off and replaced by Ramone Close. Redlands had changed their formation during the break in an attempt to stem the Power’s first half onslaught and the changes appeared to have an immediate impact. Danny Byrne blazed over from close range and Graham Fyfe saw his angled shot fizz across the face of the power goal with no one able to provide the slightest of touches required to score. In a complete reversal of the first half, the home side now had Power on the back foot and in the 55th minute took a deserved lead when Jack Lyons burst through two defenders before firing past the oncoming Buchanan. Five minutes later they should have further extended their lead, but Danny Byrne fired just wide of the far post after a fine attacking move. The Devils continued to press and from a corner, Cameron Draper saw his effort cleared off the line.
Although it was Redlands who were directing play, they were reminded of how dangerous Power had been during the first half when an 81st minute corner was only half cleared and the ball fell to James Batty who shot though a crowd of players from the edge of the penalty box to tie the game up again. Redlands showed great resolve, responding almost immediately when Ramone Close, who had impressed after replacing the injured Chris Arslan, went past one defender before squaring the ball to Danny Byrne to drill home from 12 yards out, sending the home bench into raptures. Referee Jim Bellos played three minutes of stoppage time before bringing to an end an enthralling game of football.
After the game a buoyant Devils Assistant Coach Dave Thorogood reflected on the game. “If ever there was a game of two halves then this was it. Power dominates the first half when we were at sevens and eights and we were fortunate to go in at the break tied up, but we responded magnificently in the second half after a few tactical changes and really took the game to them. Last week I thought we were worth a draw against Olympic but didn’t get it and this week after they scored late in the game we thought we would have to settle for a point, but the lads had other ideas and we walk away with all three points. With sides at both ends of the table scrapping for points in their own personal duels, nothing is black and white and it looks like it will go to the wire”.
With three Premier League games left in the 2010 season Redlands travel to Beenleigh on Saturday with games kicking off at 4:15 and 6:30pm. Redlands Premier Youth are at Queensland Lions on Sunday at 11:45am.