Lions FC 3 (Myers 55′; Morton 69′; Harch 71′)
Souths Utd 2 (Murphy 4′, 32′)
Lana Harch’s incredible 40 yard strike midway through the second half capped off a remarkable come from behind win for Lions FC on Friday night at Lions Stadium over Souths United, to secure a runners-up finish in the NPLW in 2018.
Things started badly though for the hosts when falling behind to Billie Murphy’s 4th minute opener when the United striker lobbed Lions keeper Ellen Hepburn from 35 yards out. Hepburn getting a hand to the ball but unable to prevent it from finding the back of the net.
The visitors almost doubled their lead inside the quarter hour mark when Louisa Marmion’s half volley from close to the penalty spot was repelled superbly over the bar but shortly after the half hour Souths did double the lead.
Clementine Rousseau’s deep cross to the far post finding the head of Murphy who bravely headed past Hepburn as the two collided.
Lions’ Ashley Myers came close to a reply late in the half but her curling effort from long range drifted just over the bar.
Whatever the talk was at half time for the hosts it proved decisive as they returned a different side.
A fumble from United keeper Chloe Cole on the edge of the six yard box five minutes in as she came for the ball, allowed Jess Hogg an opportunity to guide the loose ball goalward only for Alexandra Huynth to clear it off the line.
The resulting two corners almost yielded a reply but Cole stood firm, first blocking Kate Mortons powerful drive onto the bar and then following that save up with a brilliant one handed tip away from Myer’s effort from the rebound at close range.
But Souths resistance was eventually broken. A ball played wide for Morton saw her deliver in a pin point cross to the edge of the six yard box where Myers was on hand to fire past Cole.
The visitors went close to restoring their two goal lead minutes later when a surging run from Teonie Rushton saw her cross the ball from the goal line, across the face of goal for Amy Chapman at the far post but her stab towards goal drifted wide of the target.
That miss would prove costly as parity was restored moments later.
Morton picking up a neat ball played to her on the far side of the box where she lined up and drove the ball low past Cole for the equaliser.
Two minutes later the hosts took the lead in dramatic fashion. An innocuous ball loose ball in the middle of the park was met by Harch, who from 40 yards out spotted Cole off her line and delivered a powerful lob over the United keeper with one bounce into the back of the net.
The visitors thought they’d levelled things minutes later only to be denied by the offside flag and they had an opportunity in added time following substitute Megan Stephens clumsy foul on Amy Chapman.
The twin sister of Lions midfielder Georgia Chapman picked her self up and teed up the free kick just outside the box, but her attempt flew wildly over the bar and with that went any hope of salvaging a point.
The win secured the Lionesses second spot on the NPLW ladder and a home semi-final next weekend against either tonight’s opponents or the Brisbane Roar NTC.
If Lions can replicate the second half performance from this game in the finals, they could go on to claim the Grand Final trophy.
“It was good for two things, firstly finishing the year on a high but the big thing was to come back from 2-0 down as we head towards the finals and that the girls can dig deep when they have to, and that they came out showing they are ready for finals football.”
On Harch’s winner.
“She hasn’t just done that once or twice but three or so times and it’s beyond being just a lucky strike at goal. She’s a quality ex-Matilda and I think that just puts an exclamation mark on the season she’s had to this point.”
Hepburn (gk), Chapman, Morton, Horsey, Riley, Riding, Schiavo, Stanley, Harch, Hogg, Myers.
Subs: Dale (rgk), Stephens, Gunston, Kenman, Disavia.
Cole (gk), Rushton, Rose, Morland, Murphy, McGilvray, Huynh, Persson, Rousseau, Chapman.
Subs: Lane, Johnson, Karalouka.