Lee Vernon’s reinvigorated squad of youth and experience has seen the Nerang Eagles triumph over Burleigh Heads FC in the season opening round of the 2021 Football Gold Coast Premier League season away at Burleigh yesterday.
In the opening match for the Reserve Grade, the Nerang boys left little room for last year’s grand final winners Burleigh to move, running away as comfortable 3 nil victors with some entertaining football and consistent competitive runs. It has already been cited that depth of talent within the entire squad is going to be the key factor for any team wanting to take home the Reserve Grade silverware this year and we’re pleased to see that Nerang has no shortage there.
By 4pm the heat had settled and conditions were perfect to get the Premier League season underway.
Nerang looked deadly from the opening whistle, testing the Burleigh goal early with an unopposed Shaun Robinson strike unlucky not to find the net after a fantastic stop from Burleigh goalkeeper Ryan McCloy.
An improved looking Burleigh side began pushing back under the stern direction of a vocal Colin Phelan at the helm and soon after, a lapse in defensive cover left the Nerang goal exposed for an easy Burleigh goal, putting the Eagles 1 nil down despite arguably having the run of the play for much of the first half.
Burleigh were able to create several key chances in front of goal however a lack of finishing accuracy meant nothing resulted from their opportunities.
At the 45th minute a quick run and cut from incoming Nerang player Hayden Steene saw him bounce the ball off Henry Adams and stride through into open space, surgically slotting the ball under the keeper’s wing for a quality equalising goal.
It was clear as the second half progressed that Nerang’s fitness and quality were still shifting gears as the Burleigh side began to slow, leaving the door open for a series of chances.
A snap reflex save from Nerang keeper Harvey Rivers kept the sheet clean for his second half, as Burleigh’s chances on goal began to fade.
With a building momentum Nerang orchestrated a quality counter attack run which saw Henry Adams find the net about half way through the second period, with Eagles heads lifting and Bulldogs heads dropped.
Burleigh coach Colin Phelan was visibly unimpressed with the game in front of him as the second half progressed with the Bulldogs shape and chances beginning to collapse.
A late double yellow and resultant red card left Burleigh with 10 men as in the dying seconds of the game a pinpoint cross from Harry King landed at substitution Russel Miner’s feet — gifting him a free power shot which nearly tore a hole in the Burleigh net.
Nerang finishing deserved 3-1 winners and taking all six points in two games for their opening round match up.
Next Friday Nerang returns home to take on Broadbeach United, here at Nerang with kick off at 7pm — the reserves play on Thursday night at Nerang, also at 7pm.