Lions Snatch Late Winner To Reach Round of 16
Lions FC 3 (Simic 9′; Macuace 16′; Glockner 87′)
Olympic FC 2 (Nazary 62′; Lofthouse 81′)
Substitute Carter Glockner became hero at Lions Stadium when his tap in from Jheison Macuace’s run and pass snatched victory for Lions late on, just when it looked as though extra time would beckon following a second half comeback from Olympic FC in front of a bumper crowd.
Lions took an early lead inside 10 minutes when Captain Matija Simic headed in from a corner to put the hosts ahead.
Minutes later, Lions doubled their lead when a neat build up saw Shaun Carlos put a through ball in for Mitch Hore who from the edge of the box, cut the ball back to an unmarked Macuace who powered the ball past Olympic keeper Nicholas Mooney to well and truly put Lions in the box seat.
The hosts continued to dominate the half and should have further extended their lead with Macuace and Carlos both guilty of wasting golden opportunities that would have likely put the game beyond reach of the Olympic.
A late challenge from Danny Kim on his opponent sparked a melee as passions threatened to boil over before Referee Chris Beath calmly took control to settle things. Kim not escaping a caution however.
The visitor’s were limited to a couple of half chance during the opening period as they struggled to deal with their more energetic hosts.
Costa Psaros and Alex Smith both forcing Lions stopper Luke Borean into easy saves before Psaros should have pulled one back late in the half. Smith playing a neat ball into the Olympic winger who fired wildly over from close range.
If the first half belonged to Lions, then the second half was all Olympic who emerged with purpose after the break.
An early chance flashed across the face of goal for the visitors with no one able to get on the end of it before they pulled a goal back shortly after the hour mark when Zelfy Nazary, recently announced to represent Afghanistan, was put through on goal, neatly slipping the ball past Borean and into the back of the net.
Olympic were now the dominant force as they went in search of an equaliser but it was Lions who almost struck next when a free kick to the edge of box saw Jean Carlos Solorzano’s spectacular scissor kick bounce agonisingly wide of Mooney’s left post.
Lions though were under pressure with Olympic looking the more likely to score the next goal and with 10 minutes remaining Jez Lofthouse, who had been perhaps surprisingly left on the subs bench before coming on shortly before the hour, broke through the Lions defence and firing past Borean who could do little to prevent the leveller.
With the visitors back on level terms and controlling the game, extra time looked a formality until a ball played in behind the Olympic defence by Simic released Jheison Macuace, who beat the offside trap and powered his way into the penalty area before laying the ball across the box and beyond the despairing reach of Mooney, for Glockner who had an empty net in front of him, tapping the ball in from 6 yards out to spark wild celebrations with his team mates and the Lions FC bench.
Olympic protested there had been an offside with either Macuace having been offside from the ball in behind their back line or Glockner when receiving the ball from the Lions striker. But their pleas were ignored by the officials as the hosts needed to see out the final few minutes of the game.
After 3 minutes of added time, Referee Beath’s final whistle sounded to send Lions into the FFA Cup Round of 16 for just the second time in their history.
It was always expected to be a fiercely contested tie but credit is due to Olympic for their second half display.
Lions will breathe a sigh of relief following this victory where they were second best for the majority of the second half whilst they should have put the tie to bed in the opening 45 minutes.
But that’s cup football and now the Richlands side will eagerly await the Round of 16 draw to see who they face next up.
“We should have been four up after the first half. We were completely dominant and in control at that point but credit to Olympic, it was a game of two halves and they came out strongly. I felt we had a couple of key injuries which needed substitutions and they ran all over us.”
“To be fair, at 2-2 there only looked to be one winner but we found that moment of quality and were able to go on and hold out until the end. It doesn’t matter how we get there, we’re in the next round and Olympic aren’t, we’re happy.”
Asked on who he’d like in the next round…
“I’d like an interstate or an A-League team. I want it to be a big one.”
Borean (gk), Thompson, Jarrard, Simic, Reardon, Hore, Solorzano, Brindell-South, Macuace, Carlos, Kim.
Subs: Cuminao (rgk), Maher, Glockner, Cosgrove, Shepherd.
Mooney (gk), Stefanutto, Waters, Whyte, Mundy, Dais, Sanders, Psaros, Nazary, Lasm, Smith.
Subs: Cuminao, Ito, Byrne, Lofthouse, Sprange (rgk).