Gold Coast Utd 1 New Caledonia 1

GOLD Coast United and New Caledonia played out their second stalemate in the space of a week after the two sides stayed locked at 1-1 in the final match of the two-game series at Merrimac Soccer Club.

GOLD Coast United and New Caledonia played out their second stalemate in the space of a week after the two sides stayed locked at 1-1 in the final match of the two-game series at Merrimac Soccer Club.

The result meant Gold Coast held on to the Queensland Nickel Cup after taking out last year-s series in Noumea.

The blustery conditions didn't help the match as a spectacle with both teams struggling to control the ball as the strong wind caused havoc for the entire ninety minutes.

Just as in Wednesday-s 0-0 draw, there were plenty of hefty challenges to underline how seriously the two teams were taking the encounter and the game almost boiled over late in the first period when several players became involved in a fracas near the centre circle.

Despite the conditions Gold Coast started well with the visitors penned into their own half during the early exchanges. A string of corner kicks bore fruit in just the third minute when Daniel Bragg-s cross was tapped home at the far post by young striker Chris Harold to give the hosts an early advantage.

Harold looked busy and lively as United sought to increase their lead and it was virtually one-way traffic for the bulk of the opening 45 minutes.

With Paul Beekmans dominating in midfield it seemed only a matter of time before Gold Coast doubled the scoreline, but despite chances to Zac Anderson and Harold United-s lead remained at 1-0 up to the break.

New Caledonia offered little in attack, however Anderson had to be alert on the stroke of half-time to make a last-ditch clearance and sweep the ball to safety.

With the wind in their backs during the second half New Caledonia posed more of an attacking threat and the visitors made good use of the breeze when they levelled after 63 minutes.

A swirling free-kick from Dominique Wacali skimmed of the head of young defender Daniel Bowles and the extra pace on the ball took it past Glen Moss in the United goal.

Gold Coast had Moss to thank late in the match when the United custodian was called upon again to save well with a low dive to his left, then Anderson came to the rescue in the dying stages to nod clear as New Caledonia pushed for a late winner.

“The conditions were horrible and it certainly affected the football for both sides,” said Miron Bleiberg after the game.

“It was probably a fair result because both sides had the advantage and disadvantage of the wind in either half. The games have toughened up a few of our younger players though and it is a good lesson for them.

“We will take the positives from it - each time our younger players get game time in a Gold Coast United shirt they grow up a little more and Zac Anderson was a good example of that today,” he added.

After appearing at Gold Coast Soccer-s ‘Party in the Park- at Carrara on Sunday morning, United-s players will take a few days off before beginning the final stages of their pre-season training regime on Thursday.