CLASS ABOVE: Sunshine Coast striker Ryan Delahunty triggers indecision in the Western Pride defence yesterday when the home side triumphed 3-1 at Bokarina.
CLASS ABOVE: Sunshine Coast striker Ryan Delahunty triggers indecision in the Western Pride defence yesterday when the home side triumphed 3-1 at Bokarina. WARREN LYNAM

Delahunty’s flair thrilling fans

STRIKER Ryan Delahunty returned to the Sunshine Coast Fire this season looking for a challenge but it is the defenders he has since left in his wake who have really been tested.

The 22-year-old has emerged as one the National Premier League's hottest prospects after just three games.

He has struck three times already, including a devastating display at Bokarina yesterday when he sealed a breakthrough 3-1 victory for the host against Western Pride. "He's huge for us," coach Kevin A'Herne Evans said. "We can't kid ourselves as to how important he is to us this year.

"He's so direct. He can create something out of nothing and there are very few players (like that)."

The fleet-footed forward looms as the side's X-factor, sparking excitement among Fire fans. A brace against one of the competition heavyweights, Brisbane Strikers, a week ago was followed by a super showing yesterday.

He left Pride defender Devon Munn on the ground after a battle for the ball near halfway and then ran infield, stepping sharply around Keagan Sheridan and shooting low and hard to the left of custodian Andres Pascoa.

A'HERNE Evans said Delahunty filled the void left by flamboyant Frenchman Nico Bechar who produced some exciting plays for the side last campaign.

"We're fortunate that he's come in this year because when you lose someone like Nico, you need someone like that to come in to replace them," he said.

"He's a local boy, he brings the big crowd with him and he's probably a better goal-scorer than Nico. He might not be as effective in open play at times but in terms of scoring goals, he'll certainly be amongst them."

Delahunty was with the Fire when it won the Queensland State League in 2010. He then starred for Kawana in the Sunshine Coast premier men's competition from 2011-13.

But he has come back to the state league club in search of something more. "I wanted a bit more of a challenge," he said.

"The local league was good, playing with all my mates and having a good time but while I'm still young and don't have any commitments, I might as well have a go."

Promisingly for the Fire's attacking prospects, import Futa Nakamura also found the back of the net in his first game in four months.

 

SUNSHINE COAST 3

(F Nakamura 40', M Needham 64', R Delahunty 87')

WESTERN PRIDE 1

(M Sekulic 78')


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