Lions FC 3 (Duckworth 15′; Beakhurst 55′; Jarrard 90+5′)
Gold Coast Knights 2 (Madle 35′; Brown 80′)
Tommy Jarrard’s injury time header snatched all three points for Lions FC in their opening fixture for the 2021 NPL season as 10 man Gold Coast Knights twice came from behind.
With a new look Lions outfit it was last season’s top scorer Joe Duckworth who opened the scoring on the quarter hour mark.
Played in behind the Knights’s defence by Andy Thompson’s cross, Duckworth cooly lobbed Knights keeper Josh Langdon as he approached.
Shortly after the half hour, impressive signing Max Mikkola almost doubled the lead with a powerful strike which Langdon did well to parry away. Duckworth almost capitalising on the loose ball but his effort only fishing the side netting.
Minutes later, Knights levelled. Jheison Macuauce winning the ball from the Lions defence and picking out Marek Madle unmarked in the box who slipped the ball beyond Luke Borean in the Lions goal.
The second half came to life early when Mikkola once again tried his luck from distance, smashing the ball against the crossbar with Langdon beaten. The Knights keeper recovering well to smother Finn Beakhurt’s follow up effort.
Lions went ahead again on 55 minutes though and it was almost a carbon copy of Mikkola’s previous effort. Again from distance the signing from Wolves FC struck the bar with the ball appearing to have crossed the line before bouncing out. Beakhurst this time though was successful in bundling in the ball from close range to restore the host’s lead.
Shortly after, Knights were reduced to 10 men just before the hour. Goal scorer Madle, minutes before cautioned for simulation in the box, struck Ethan Doherty with a stray arm across the face. Referee Cameron Fawcett having no choice but to show Madle his second caution and subsequent red card.
The send off seemed to spur Knights on as they began to look the more threatening. Max Brown should have levelled from inside the box but he could only direct his effort straight at Borean and on 70 minutes Borean pulled off a superb save to claw the ball off the line following a Knights corner, despite the appeals from the visitors that the ball had crossed the line.
With ten minutes remaining Brown did pull his side level. A ball played in from the right picked out the Knights midfielder who’s glancing header from just inside the box nestled into the left side of the net to make it 2-2.
Moments later Nicholas Panetta almost put his side ahead. Borean on hand to again to pull off a good save and his efforts proved valuable deep in added time.
A free kick for Lions on the left side was floated into the back post where Jean Carlos Solorzano and Ethan Doherty combined to get the ball back across goal where centre back Jarrard was on hand to head the ball high beyond Langdon to seal all three points for Lions to the joy of the large crowd at Lions Stadium.
Team Line ups:
Borean (gk), Simic, Jarrard, Thompson, McGrath, Docherty, Duckworth, Shepherd, Mikkola, Minett, Beakhurst.
Subs: Murphy (rgk), Fiechtner, Nichols, Farina, Solorzano.
Gold Coast Knights:
Langdon (gk), Walker, Stollery, Hoffman, Madle, Brown, Yabe, Nichols, Panetta, Schmidt, Macauce.
Subs: Deans (rgk), Ingham, Morton, Smith, Cross, Harris.
Referee: Cameron Fawcett