Harold brace earns GCU draw

Brisbane Roar and Gold Coast United have shared the points in the National Youth League for the second time this season in a highly entertaining 2-2 draw at Spencer Park on Friday night.

Brisbane Roar and Gold Coast United have shared the points in the National Youth League for the second time this season in a highly entertaining 2-2 draw at Spencer Park on Friday night.

With the free-flowing match offering up plenty of chances, Brisbane thought it had done enough to secure the points until a hard-earned second-half brace by United striker Chris Harold ensured the spoils were shared.

With both teams fielding strong line-ups, Brisbane began well and tested Gold Coast on four minutes when Luke Bratten's cross from the flag forced panic in the area and a combined effort between Matt Mundy and Luke DeVere saw the ball hit the upright.

Ten minutes later it was United's turn, when Andrew Barisic played a nice ball across field to Tahj Minniecon who took a touch into the area and pulled the trigger forcing Roar 'keeper Matthew Acton to parry the ball out of play.

Tim Smits then took more paint off the Gold Coast woodwork when he rose well to rocket his header into the crossbar after another menacing cross from Bratten on 21 minutes.

Moments later the Roar had another corner with Bratten finding an unmarked Smits at the back post, luckily for 'keeper Jerrad Tyson the effort lacked power and he made a comfortable save low to his left.

Early pressure eventually paid off for the Roar when winger Josh McVey opened up the scoring on the half-hour mark.

A well-weighted pass into the area from Smits unlocked the United defence, and McVey took full advantage of the extra space slotting his left-foot effort past an outstretched Tyson.

Mitch Nichols then missed a chance almost from the restart, but McVey should have given the home side a two-goal buffer a moment later when Isaka Cernak broke down the line and cut a perfect ball across the area, only for the waiting McVey to blaze high over the bar.

Gold Coast was then granted a penalty 10 minutes before the break when Barisic beat Acton to the ball and was felled inside the box.

An equaliser looked certain as Chris Harold stepped up to the spot, however in a bizarre sequence of play United was denied three times in as many seconds as Roar custodian Acton turned from villain to hero.

Acton dived the right way to deny Harold's first attempt and then produced some magic to stop the follow up, but with the ball still in the area Koh Satake headed low on target only for an impenetrable Acton to get another hand on the ball and clear for the corner.

Capping off a frenetic and entertaining first half, Nichols then powered into the box after a great ball from Kenneth Dougall only to be denied by Tyson who held firm to parry the effort clear.

Brisbane's intensity continued into the second half and the Roar had their two-goal lead on 50 minutes when McVey and Bratten combined well on the left to pry open the Gold Coast defence.

A nice flick from McVey to Bratten saw the Roar captain glide past Steve Fitzsimmons and open up the angle, tucking home past a helpless Tyson.

After being denied in the first half, Harold pegged one back for Gold Coast in the 56th minute when Fitzsimmons played in a delightful long ball from the halfway line, the ball falling perfectly for Harold who gleefully side-footed home past Acton.

With the match moving between both ends, Cernak was unlucky not to score when he steamed into the area and unleashed a venomous right-foot effort that slammed into the underside of the crossbar and straight back out.

Smits gave the post another work-out when his shot on the turn in the 65th minute found the woodwork; his effort was equally matched by Fitzsimmons down the pitch minutes later when his left-foot drive from outside the area stung the palms of Acton who dove spectacularly to his right.

Finding a second gear, Mike Mulvey's men rallied for an equaliser in the 82nd minute when Harold claimed his brace, slamming home from the back post after a long throw into the area by Ben Halloran was missed by two Roar defenders.

Trying to grab back the lead from the restart, Cernak's cut across the area sat up neatly for Smits who obliged only to see his effort hit the woodwork for a third time in the match.

United custodian Tyson then made sure the sides finished even when he tipped Stefan Vrbesic's effort over the bar in the final moments of the match.

Brisbane Roar 2 (McVey 30, Bratten 50) Gold Coast United 2 (Harold 56, 82) @ Spencer Park 19/2/2010