Young Cougars step up
SATURDAY night's Hyundai QSL match against the Queensland Academy of Sport was seen as a chance for younger Cougars squad members to show what they can do and most did not let themselves down.
Max Thompson was given a start and will have gained confidence from his display even though the Cougars were beaten 2-1.
The first half of the match at Jardine Park was an open affair with QAS always dangerous down both flanks with Brandon Borello, in particular, making even the fastest Cougars defenders look one-paced.
Starting down the right flank the speedster gave Matt Sauer a torrid time as he took the ball to the backline before cutting it back to the edge of the box where his midfielders, usually Alistair Quinn, were waiting to pounce.
Tim English again showed what a fine young keeper he is with a string of top-class saves.
It was not a perfect display by the keeper but close enough to again bring attention to his enormous talent.
In the middle the combination of the teenaged Thompson and his captain Trevor Wood helped keep the QAS scoreless for the first half hour with both making important clearances when English was beaten.
At the other end the Cougars had not tested keeper Jakob Smith with chances coming from long-range shots from Tim Hickey and Bryce Ruthven.
Inevitably QAS got the first goal through a combination of errors.
A weak back pass sold English short, resulting in his clearance failing to make halfway and allowing Borello to run at goal.
Even then the danger looked to be covered but two defenders got into each other's way and the ball was slipped to Elliott Ronto who coolly hit it wide of English.
Following another good save from English, QAS grabbed a second. From the corner the ball was given to Mitch Cooper who sent a cross over the defence where Quinn volleyed it home from about 10 metres out.
Coming up to half time the Cougars enjoyed their best portion of the opening spell and pulled a goal back when Chris Swain caught Scot Coulson in possession before slamming a left-foot drive into the net from an angle.
The second half was an unusual spectacle with QAS trying to lock up the game by flooding the
midfield, drawing the deep-lying Cougars to chase the ball in
QAS half of the pitch and then trying to hurt the home side on the counter.
For the first 20 minutes of the spell Swain showed all his tricks as he tore Coulson apart repeatedly catching him in possession.
Twice the visitors' keeper pulled off fantastic saves to thwart the tricky young striker while at the other end of the pitch English produced the save of the night when he flung himself to his right to keep out a Quinn penalty after a clumsy challenge from Wood had conceded the kick.
Central defender Max Thompson said he was satisfied with his display, especially as he had the job of marking up against Ronto who has just rejoined QAS after playing with A-League team Gold Coast's youth side.
“I think we did all right, perhaps even deserved to win,” he said.
The teenager, who is trying to develop his partnership with Wood, said Gonzales had a few words for his players at the break.
“He actually got angry at us about our mistakes, I've never seen him like that, but he was okay at the end of the game.”
Thompson said midfielder Johnathan Sauer was named the best on the night.