Lions FC 6 (Knight 20′; Hecher 30′, 86′, 90+3′; Riding 54′, 90+1′)
Western Pride 0
Lionesses captain Mariel Hecher starred with a hat trick as Lions comfortably defeated Western Pride 6-0 at Lions Stadium on Saturday night and moved 5 points clear of Moreton Bay Utd on the top of the NPLW ladder, following Jets defeat to Eastern Suburbs.
Lions started the brighter and Whitney Knight almost put the hosts in front on five minutes when her header from Tanesha Stanley’s cross drifted just wide.
Knight though made now mistake on 20 minutes when getting onto the end of a neat through ball and slipping it under Pride keeper Holly Van Der Zee to open the scoring.
Lions doubled their lead of the half hour when Riding made one of her trade mark powerful runs towards the goal line before cutting the ball back across the six yard box where Hecher was on hand to power the ball into the back of the net.
The hosts could have put the game out of sight by the break but found Van Der Zee in good form to first block Sofie Persson and then be in the right spot to gather a powerful volley from Hecher. Knight however should have made it three to the good but dragged her effort wide when put through one on one with the Pride keeper.
A delay at the end of the half came following a nasty looking knee injury to Pride’s Madeline Hartwig who needed to be carried off who hopefully will make a speedy recovery.
Lions struck early in the second term following a neat build by the hosts that saw Meisha Westland float a cross from the right of the box over a stranded Pride defence and straight to Riding who made now mistake from close range.
It was virtually one way traffic from that point as Lions saw a number of chances come and go. Persson fired just wide midway through the half before substitute Kate Morton brushed the side netting with a low drive soon after.
On 77 minutes Riding saw Van Der Zee produce the save of the game tipping her shot round the post when looking destined for the back of the net.
With less than 10 minutes remaining Riding had the miss of the game. Determined work from Hecher saw her steal the ball from her opponent on the goal line at the edge of the box before cutting it across to the Lions striker who inexplicably fired wide of an empty net.
With the game seemingly destined to finish at 3-0, three quick goals came at the death to help boost the goal difference as Lions finished strongly.
Hecher grabbed her second on the night when Riding turned provider having made another good run to the goal line and laying the ball back into the middle of the box for the Brazilian to finish smartly.
Morton hit the base of the post in the 90th minute with Van Der Zee beaten before Riding got her second in added time linking up with Morton and driving the ball in from 12 yards out following the defender’s good ball in.
Hecher rounded out the scoring deep in added time with a superb strike following good link up play with Morton who teed up the Lions captain just inside the box. Hecher’s strike whizzing past Van Der Zee and bulging the net as she sealed her hat trick in style.
In fairness a young Western Pride side made Lions work. Hurrying and scrapping for their lives as they made a good account of themselves. The result was however never in doubt with Lions keeper Cassandra Zaffina barely troubled over the 90 minutes.
With Easts shock win over Moreton Bay Utd, Lions open up a 5 point gap at the top. Next week sees a break for the NPLW with Lions returning home in two weeks time to face Easts.
“Pride made us work extremely hard for the result tonight. It was an evenly contested first half although we had a few chances we ought to have done better with.”
“They were very aggressive and we were glad to get over the line in the end. I was pleased with how we finished the game. We played some good football and the way we approached things eventually broke them down and in the end we had total control but up until 80 minutes they made it a tough game for us.”
Zaffina (gk), Heatley, Hogg, Riley, Clough, Hecher, Knight, Riding, Persson, Stanley, Westland.
Subs: Shuttleworth (rgk), O’Neill, Horsey, Morton.
Van Der Zee (gk), Beaumont, Merrick, Ibell, Hellmuth, Weatherby, Hartwig, Derrick, Rink, Ward, O’Keefe.
Subs: Buchanan, Bousen, Peucker.