Gold Coast maintain title charge

A powerful second-half display from the Gold Coast proved too much for an enthusiastic but ultimately outclassed AIS side in the National Youth League on Saturday, with the visitors taking a 1-0 win in Canberra.

A powerful second-half display from the Gold Coast proved too much for an enthusiastic but ultimately outclassed AIS side in the National Youth League on Saturday, with the visitors taking a 1-0 win in Canberra.

The AIS began the game the more fluent of the two teams and certainly did not look like they were overawed by their top-of-the-table opponents. Consistent pressure from the AIS allowed them to gain the early momentum, which almost resulted in an own goal for the Gold Coast when captain Zac Anderson-s wayward header bounced off the crossbar.

AIS speedster Melvin Beckett struck the first meaningful shot of the day but could not beat Jerrad Tyson who was well positioned in the Gold Coast goal. Jake Barker-Daish and Connor Chapman also had opportunities for the AIS in the first quarter of the match but neither could get their name on the scoresheet.

Frustration led to several niggly challenges as the half progressed, with few crisp attacking plays exhibited from either team. The half ended scrappily with neither team able to find the back of the net.

The Gold Coast opened the second half with a renewed vigour forcing the AIS into errors and generally exerting physical pressure over their Canberra-based counterparts.

The spitefulness of the first half continued after the break, with referee Stephen Lucas handing out three yellow cards within the opening 10 minutes of the second half.

The Gold Coast's Robert Russell provided Golgol Mebrathu with a chance at opening the scoring but Mebrathu's short-range header was blocked by AIS keeper Aaron Lennox.

Russell turned goal-saver moments later, using lightning reflexes to clear a sharp header from Chapman off the line.

The further the match progressed, the more the Queensland outfit started to dominate. Three consecutive corners during the 63rd minute looked ominous but it was not until 10 minutes later that the Gold Coast finally put one past Lennox.

The Gold Coast's Joshua Brillante charged onto a looping AIS clearance and attempted an audacious volley from 40m. His awkward shot went askew but Brillante persisted, regaining possession and firing a cross into the penalty box to find three unmarked Gold Coast players. Ben Wearing's header was perfectly placed and the AIS were left lamenting their slow reactions.

Ben Halloran, who scored a hat-trick last week against Perth, looked likely to put the Gold Coast up again with two powerful strikes on goal during the last 10 minutes of play. Lennox's athleticism was the only thing that saved the AIS from a more damaging and, arguably more accurate, scoreline.

Gold Coast 1 (Wearing 73) AIS 0