Lions FC 2 (Hercher 86′, Knight 90+2′)
Moreton Bay Utd 0
A dramatic final 10 minutes decided the opening round clash of Lions 2019 NPLW season that saw captain Mariel Hecher open the scoring and debutant Whitney Knight’s injury time strike round out the scoring as Lions defeated Moreton Bay Utd 2-0 at Lions Stadium on Saturday evening.
A largely scrappy first half saw few chances for either side with the hosts going closest on the 20 minute mark when Knight forced a good save from Jets keeper Coco Majstorovic before Tegan Riding’s lobbed effort over Majstorovic seconds later fell agonisingly wide of the post.
The second half had Jets come out more purposefully but on the hour mark, a superb last ditch tackle inside the box from Jets Lauren Spreadborough denied Knight from getting her shot away as she honed in on goal.
The visitors went close moments later when a corner fell to Alexandra Schaefer who’s lob caused some panic in the Lions goal as Lions new keeper Cassandra Zaffina scrambled clear.
With the game seemingly heading to a scoreless conclusion, Jets were handed a golden opportunity to take the lead when Lions American defender Cannon Clough was adjudged to have bundled over Rylee Baisden. Schaefer stepped up eagerly to dispatch the 80th minute spot kick only to see her effort strike the inside of Zaffina’s left upright and rebound harmlessly across the goal.
Surviving that scare, just 5 minutes later the hosts were awarded a spot kick of their own with Hecher barged over by Spreadborough. Knight placing the ball on the spoit before firing to Majstorovic’s left but the Jets keeper guest right and parried the ball away only to see Hecher follow up and tuck away the rebound to give the hosts a deserved lead.
Jets hurried and hustled for the remaining few minutes as they went is search of an equaliser but in doing so found themselves stretched and in added time, Lions mercurial Brazilian skipper picked up the ball just inside Jets half and delivered a perfectly weighted ball for Knight to charge onto with just Majstorovic to beat. The Jets keeper did superbly to repel Knight’s initial shot but was unable to recover as the Lions number nine followed up her rebounded effort to slot home the loose ball and seal the points for the hosts.
It was a dominant display from Lions who, with a few more games for side to gel properly, should once again challenge for NPLW honours. In order to do that though they will want to ensure their captain Mariel Hecher stays injury free with the Brazilian winger a joy to watch and pivotal to much of their attacking prowess and with Knight who impressed in this encounter, along with strike partner Riding, there’s plenty of goals in the Lionesses.
Moreton Bay will come away feeling they deserved something from the game but in truth they rarely troubled Zaffina in the Lions goal. No doubt though, they ought to be top four challengers come season’s end and with the imminent arrival of Brisbane Roar W-League players Allira Toby and Natalie Tathem to the Wolter Park side, they’ll undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with.
“I thought we won the game comprehensively, we should have score a few more goals. Certainly in that first half I don’t think I’ve ever coached a more dominant half without an end product.”
“Second half I felt we were still the better side although it evened out a little bit as time went on. I said to the girls at half time that football can be a cruel game and you have to take your chances and that you can dominate and dominate but the opposition is always going to get their five minutes and Jets did and they got that penalty and I though ‘ah yeah, that’s football. But there we go, we got the job done and it was wonderful to get that first win.”
Zaffina (gk), Heatley, Clough, Morton, Riley, Hecher, Knight, Riding, Persson, O’Neill, Horsey.
Subs: Shuttleworth (rgk), Stephens, Hogg, Stanley.
Moreton Bay United:
Majstorovic (gk), New, Spreadborough, Daniels, Watkins, Dillon, Policina, Walker, McElligott, Baisden, Askin.
Subs: Head, Doyle, Chalmers, Schaefer, Reynolds.