By Liam Emerton
Old rivalries will be renewed when the elimination finals of the CQ Premier League men’s and women’s competitions take place on the weekend.
The first match of the do-or-die finals series will take place in the men’s competition when Clinton FC take on the Capricorn Coast Eagles on Friday night.
Clinton progressed through to the qualifying final with a 5-3 win over a tough Bluebirds United outfit.
Bluebirds held a 3-0 lead, five minutes into the second half of the contest, with Nicholas Kirkpatrick’s first-half strike and teammates’ Liam McLean and Campbell Miller’s early second-half goals giving United a handy lead in the elimination final.
But an incredible fightback from the Gladstone-based Clinton saw them score five unanswered goals through Liam Stephen’s brace, Scott Rouse, Anthony Cobb, and an own goal to send them on their way to the semi-final.
Capricorn Coast will be keen to make amends this week after losing 1-0 to the Frenchville Roos in the qualifying final, thanks to a 70th-minute winner scored by Ryan Hawken.
The Eagles and Clinton last played two months ago where the Cap Coast lads soared above, scoring a 3-1 win over their opposition.
Nathan Norris will be one to watch for the team in orange this weekend whereas the aforementioned Liam Stephen will be a key to Clinton’s success.
In the women’s preliminary final, Central FC will have to rebound from only its second loss of the season when it battles the ever-dangerous Bluebirds United White.
Central suffered a devastating 6-2 loss at the hands of their Gladstone rivals Clinton FC thanks to Skye Alexander, who took her season goal tally up to 80 after scoring a crucial hat-trick.
Despite being up 2-1 in the first half, Central dropped that lead forcing them into a playoff against Bluebirds.
In good news for Central, its star goal-scorer Kallie Peurifoy is still in fine form, scoring a brace in that qualifying final.
Bluebirds United has been solid this season, finishing third and earning their spot in the semi-final by winning 3-1 in extra time against Cap Coast.
The Eagles dug in deep, scoring through Bia Neves McAlister with Tiana Richards notching up her first goal in regular time for the Bluebirds.
Locked at 1-1 at the final whistle the sides were forced into extra time where Richards grabbed a second, and teammate Eilish-Kay Hume scored to end the finals hopes for the Eagles.
Bluebirds are yet to beat Central this season, losing 6-3 and 3-1, before earning a 3-3 draw in the most recent clash between the two teams.
The steady improvement from United could be concerning for Central but the side from Gladstone will be tough to beat, as they have been all season.
Both squads have plenty of finals experience, having won the women’s competitions in Gladstone and Rockhampton last year.
The crowd will have their eyes glued on Peurifoy and Richards this week as the grand final beckons for both top sides.