Lions FC 3 (Maher 2′, 65′; Jarrard 20′)
Eastern Suburbs 2 (Farina 22′; Fulton 45+1′)
A Chris Maher double and a rare goal for centre back Tommy Jarrard saw Lions edge out Eastern Suburbs for a spot in Preliminary RD6 of the FFA Cup on Wednesday evening at Lions Stadium.
Maher opened the scoring in spectacular fashion with less than two minutes on the clock when spotting Easts keeper Stefan King off his line following a poor clearance from the Tiger’s custodian and from just inside the visitors half, lofting the ball back towards goal with King back peddling and only able to help the ball into he back of the net as it looped over him.
Lions controlled much of the opening period and looked to be going on with the job in hand when Jarrard headed in from close range following a corner played deep and over the pack which was then crossed back in where Jarrard was lurking. King unable to scoop the all out of his goal before it had crossed the line.
Perhaps having scored, Jarrard then turned villain less than two minutes later when his under hit pass back to keeper Luke Borean was intercepted by Jordan Farina who calmly rounded the Lions stopper before passing the ball into an empty net.
The visitors looked to make the most of that piece of good fortune as they took the game to their higher division hosts and dominated proceedings for a good period of time before Lions finally reacted and picked up the tempo once again, but in trying to see out the half, the hosts were left to rue a couple of earlier gilt edge opportunities only to see the Tigers draw level on the stroke of half time.
Some neat passing saw Easts set Scot Coulson free down the left and his precise cross evaded the Lions defence and sat nicely for Scott Fulton who tapped the ball home from close range to see the sides level at the interval.
The hosts returned for the second half without Jean Carlos Solorazno who was replaced by Jheison Macauce as they once again took control of the game but were again guilty of some wasteful misses.
Maher wasting two superb opportunities to put his side ahead when first released by Carter Glockner but putting his effort wide of the mark and a short time later, played in by Macuace where his shot was blocked well by Kimg. Just before the hour mark Shaun Carlos, who’s work rate was again top notch, was played in by a superb through ball from Andy Thompson but with the whole goal to aim at from just inside the Easts penalty area, he managed to sky his effort that flew wildly over the bar.
Midway through the half, Maher atoned for his earlier misses when he picked up a loose ball from King who could only parry Macuace’s point blank shot, stepping inside and smashing the ball high into the back of the net to put his side ahead once more.
Despite their overall control of the second half, Easts almost found an impressive effort of their own when Coulson flashed a fierce long range effort just over the bar.
It would prove to be their best chance of the half as Lions soaked up much of what the Tigers threw at them before referee Anton Shchetinin’s final whistle sounded the end Easts FFA Cup journey for 2018 as Lions moved to within two wins from reaching the national Round of 32.
“We got there in the end and it is all about winning in the cup games. We weren’t great tonight in terms of an overall performance but the pleasing thing is that even though we weren’t great, we still created a lot of chances – a LOT of chances and in the end, 3 was enough.”
“it was disappointing the way we conceded the two goals but I’m glad we got the result. Full credit to Easts. I want to make the point that I thought they were good and I’d love to see an Eastern Suburbs side promoted into the NPL as they’d add a lot of value to it and have some very good players in their side.”
Borean (gk), Thompson, Simic, Jarrard, Hore, Solorzano, Carlos, Kim, Brindell-South, Maher, Glockner.
Subs: Cuminao (rgk), Reardon, Macuace, Cosgrove, Webster.
King (gk), Tobin, Fisher, Leggett, Barnett, Yango, Fulton, Coulson, Balarezo, Farina, Lancaster.
Subs: Mangeros (rgk), Richardson, Sparksman, Mbarushayo.