ACE will go into tomorrow’s semi-final showdown against Wynnum at Wolter Park (7.30pm) free from the pressure of promotion.
Coach Steve Glockner said his side had been playing for weeks with a weight of expectation as the promotion race tightened.
That lifted last week when Football Queensland confirmed the top three FQPL2 sides – Surfers, ACE and Wynnum – would all go up.
“I thought it showed at Magic (ACE won 5-1 on Saturday),” Steve said, “without the pressure … we played the way we wanted to.
“There has been expectations on the club and the team to go up to FQPL1 this season, but now we don’t have that.”
Attention has turned to Wynnum, who finished third on the ladder, and the battle for a place in the FQPL2 Grand Final.
ACE beat Wolves 4-2 at Wolter Park in Round 1 and led 2-0 at Wynnum but shared the points after a 92nd-minute equaliser.
Wolves have strengthened during the last six months, with several Solomon Island internationals the most prominent signings and closed a sizeable gap, to just one point.
“I don’t know for sure what their team will be, but they are a good side, they hold the ball well and it will be a challenge,” Steve said.
The ACE midfield is more settled, after midseason changes, with Max Fryar, who joined from Moreton Bay United, replacing Steve Snaith, who went the other way.
“Max is getting more confident and his work rate is off the chart,” coach Steve said, “and Josh Masters stepped up with Snaithy leaving.”
Josh and Max both scored their first goals of the season at Magic, where Ally Russell’s double took his tally to 20.
The striker now has figures of 80 goals in 73 Brisbane Premier League (BPL) and FQPL2 games for ACE in the last four years.
Ryan Shaughnessy is close behind with 70 goals in 79 games, but is the runaway leader in providing assists for ACE goals in that time.
Of the 190 goals ACE has scored in the BPL and FQPL2, it is estimated Ryan has set-up half of them!