Cougars defeat Mackay, but finals hopes dashed
By AARON KELLY ? THE Frenchville Sports Club Capricorn Cougars outmuscled the Mackay Red Devils to score a thrilling 1-0 win in their final-round Queensland Soccer State Cup clash at Rockhampton's Ryan Park on Saturday night.
Playing in front of a strong home crowd and on a planned smaller field, the Cougars completed their State Cup campaign and kept their slim finals hopes alive with a powerful home victory.
But these were soon crushed when the second-placed Gold Coast beat Wide Bay 5-2 in Bundaberg.
After a scoreless first half, Cougars captain Craig Porter pounced on a clever Roy Bob corner in the 48th minute to fire a header past Mackay goalkeeper David Patterson.
The Cougars were beginning to exert a measure of control before Mackay striker Aaron Craig hit the crossbar.
That sparked some life into the Cougars who should have extended their lead when striker Mitch Williams and excitement machine Reece Veenhoven produced a sharp one-two-play. The game exploded into life in the last 10 minutes when a scuffle between Cougars defender Wayne Porter and Mackay captain Troy Mundy started an all-in brawl.
Cougars coach Justin Kilshaw said his defence ? man of the match Bradd Dillon, the Porter twins and talented youngster Cameron Draper ? was rock solid and cut down Mackay's attacking raids.
"The back four were just superb,'' Kilshaw said.
"They had all the answers.
"We won about 70% of everything in the air.''
Kilshaw was also delighted with his team's set-plays and patience in both halves.
"The first half was very open and we always expected it to be that way ? they're (Mackay) a very attacking outfit,'' Kilshaw said.
"We've worked hard on our set moves from free kicks and corners and it certainly paid dividends.''
The Cougars finished with the best defensive record behind Queensland Lions and were the highest-placed country team in their pool.