Brandon Reeves and Oskar Dillon tangling in the only previous meeting between the two clubs (Sportspics)
Could this have been scripted any better? United’s last gasp winner and Knights loss to the competition front-runners in Round 6 sees the club’s separated by a single point heading into tonight’s first Gold Coast National Premier Leagues derby.
United have warmed to the task in recent weeks posting four consecutive wins against some fancied opposition. Knights too have had four wins in 2019 with those victories coming against the current bottom four sides on the ladder.
A stumble against the undefeated Peninsula Power last Saturday brought a swift response with the newly promoted Knights unveiling two well credentialed signings ahead of the Derby to further underline their intentions and aspirations.
With both clubs playing the ‘friendly rivalry’ card in the lead-up to the match, a derby is a derby, so expectations remain high for a no-holds-barred, entertaining contest. Throw in some notable ‘club-swaps’, the late signings and an expected bumper, vocal crowd at the Croatian Club and there’s a buzz brewing on the Coast around this much anticipated encounter.
It’s not easy to pick out any one player set to bust the game apart, but there are a few interesting match-ups that will likely have a bearing on the result.
Thwaite & Smith
The respective captains look set for a ding-dong personal duel with the experience and guile of United’s Michael Thwaite out to thwart the scoring opportunities that come the way of Knights skipper, and key striker, Sam Smith.
While Thwaite is renowned for his organisation and wily defending, what’s caught the eye of many observers in 2019 is the one time Soccerroo’s contribution to United’s attack, some telling forays forward and his accurate raking passes.
Not unexpectedly Smith heads the competition’s scoring charts with 7 goals in 6 appearances on his return to the Queensland NPL. The ‘golden boot’ in season 2017 returned to the coast after a less than fruitful 2018 with South Melbourne in the Victorian competition.
Reeves & Dillon
The clash at the other end of the park is another potentially mouth-watering tussle.
United’s Brandon Reeves started 2019 on fire scoring for fun in pre-season and has since notched up three goals in his six outings in the season proper.
After an off-season ‘backflip’ that saw Oskar Dillon sign with United but leave for the Knights before kicking a ball, there’ll be plenty of eyes on how the 19 year old centre back goes about nullifying United’s front line marksman.
Rees & Piddick
While the match will be decided on the park, there’ll be an extra edge to the tension in the dugouts given the history shared by the respective coaches, an amicable exterior no doubt hiding a fierce inner desire to go one-up on the other in this the first leg of the Coast Cup.
A player with Gold Coast United during its A-League days, Kristian Rees took over the coaching reins in 2019, his first head coaching gig. After a distinguished professional career including an A-League premiership with Adelaide United in 2005-06, Rees played under the Grae Piddick coached Palm Beach Sharks in 2014 and was a key member of that NPL double winning squad.
Following the demise of Gold Coast City, Rees followed Piddick to Knights as an assistant coach before accepting the head coaching role with United for season 2019.
The sole previous meeting between the two clubs was in Round 5 of the 2018 edition of the FFA Cup with Knights taking the spoils that night in an entertaining clash in front of a healthy crowd at the Croatian Sports Centre.
There were five first half goals followed by more dour affair in the second, Knights hung on to their 3-2 half time advantage to take the win.
United celebrate a goal in the Rd5 FFA match-up in 2018 (Sportspics)
National Premier Leagues Queensland Round 7
Gold Coast Knights v Gold Coast United
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Kick-off at 7pm
Croatian Sports Centre, 181 Nerang Broadbeach Road, Carrara
Entry to the match is free with gold coin donations for the Gold Coast Childrens’ Hospital being encouraged.
For those that can’t make it to Carrara, Football Queensland is live-streaming the match.
Set a reminder at this link https://bit.ly/2T5dMB6