Lions FC 3 (Persson 40′ pen; Riding 53′, 85′)
Mitchelton 1 (Curtis 41′)
Lions FC overcame a dogged Mitchelton on Saturday evening to edge one step closer to the NPLW Premiership with a 3-1 success at Lions Stadium.
A second half double to Tegan Riding, taking her season tally to 25 goals, proving decisive on a night the Lionesses enjoyed some good fortune going their way.
The home side went close to opening the scoring in the 10th minute when a trade mark Riding run saw her reach the bye line before cutting the ball back to Whitney Knight. Knight, suffering a goal drought of late, jinked around Mitchelton keeper Katie Tealby just inside the box but with the goal at her mercy, could only direct her effort onto the head of Mitchelton defender Terrell Collings who cleared.
The visitors forced a good save from Cassandra Zaffina midway through the half following a good build up. The Lions stopper forced to tip the ball around her left post and showing that Mitchelton weren’t here to make up the numbers.
With the game seemingly heading to the break scoreless, Lions received a favourable slice of luck. The Lionesses made their way into the box only for Riding to be disposed by Mitchelton forward Leah Curtis, with the pair tumbling to the ground and the visitors coming away with the ball.
With Curtis returning to her feet, she placed her hands into the back of Riding before moving away. Some confusion ensued when the referee blew and cautioned Curtis with everyone unsure of the decision. Eventually he pointed to the spot, adjudging Curtis had pushed Riding down off the ball. Sofie Persson stepping up and firing home from 12 yards despite Tealby guessing the right way.
It seemed a harsh decision with no Lions players appealing but a minute later parity was restored and perhaps rightly so.
Curtis capitialising on confusion between Zaffina and her defence with the veteran striker burying the ball in the back of the net to see the sides enter the interval all square.
The second half saw the Lionesses do what they do so well game after game and that’s strike early in the half.
Mariel Hecher coming off the subs bench proving pivotal as she slipped a delightful pass through for Riding who one on one with Tealby, poked the ball past her and in at the far post to restore their lead.
The hosts almost doubled their lead midway through the half with Hecher again the architect. A driving run from the Brazilian seeing her cut the ball back for Rebekah Horsey with the Mitchelton defence all at sea, but her effort skimmed off the upright as the chance went begging.
With the the hosts dominating the half, it took more good fortune to seal the game late on for the hosts.
Riding receiving another assist from Hecher on the edge of the box but firing her shot straight at Tealby. The Mitchie number one though, fumbling the ball and seeing it drop into her goal to kill off the contest.
In the end was three hard earned points and a 7th straight win for the Lionesses. However, coach Rob Askew will reflect on this game and perhaps count themselves a somewhat lucky with Mitchelton having worked them all the way.
“It was a much tougher game than I had expected and credit has to go to Mick and the Mitchie girls for coming with a plan to stop us playing and hitting us quickly on the counter.”
“They pushed us all the way. We now look ahead to a massive game against Souths next week and hopefully another important three points.”
Zaffina (gk), Heatley, Clough, Hogg, Riley, Knight, Riding, Persson, Stanley, Westland, Horsey.
Subs: Shuttleworth (rgk), Morton, Hecher, Karambasis.
Tealby (gk), Liel-Cock, McDowell, Sen, Curtis, Annis, Bremner, Bignold, Collings, Lua, Allen.
Subs: Ryan, Hitchener, White, Phillips, Adams.