Lions FC 3 (Harch 10′, Morton 36′ pen; Hogg 51′)
Gold Coast Utd 2 (McElligot 85′, 88′)
Lions welcomed the return of Mariel Hecher to the starting line-up following her recent return from Brazil and she was inspirational in her side’s victory on Saturday evening.
Lana Harch’s opener on 10 minutes set the hosts on their way following a poor goal kick from United centre back Eloise Fryer, that fell short to Mikaela Disavia who picked out Harch inside the box. Harch guiding a deftly struck shot just inside the near post to set her side on their way.
Lions extended their lead shortly after the half hour when awarded a penalty for handball, following a good save onto the bar by United keeper Megan Kealy-Hawkins to deny Hecher a goal from her floated free kick; but in the scramble to clear the follow up, Fryer deliberately handled the ball away from goal and was perhaps a touch fortunate not to receive her marching orders with the ball destined for the back of the net from Kate Morton.
Morton stepped up after a short delay for treatment to Kealy-Hawkins following the goalmouth scramble, to slot the ball home from 12 yards and make it 2-0.
The visitors went desperately close to pulling one back in first half added time when Anjelyka Brown’s free kick from some 25 yards out had Lions custodian Ellen Hepburn beaten, only for the ball to cannon off the upright.
Photo: Lions FC’s B Brazilian winged, Mariel Hecher challenges Gold Coast United captain Neesa Doyle for the ball in a hard fought contest at Lions Stadium.
The second half saw the hosts further extend their lead soon after the restart and it came from another poor pass out from Gold Coast. Kealy-Hawkins playing the ball straight to Hecher who played a one-two with Tegan Riding before cutting a neat ball back across the box where Jessica Hogg was racing into the box and she dispatched a powerful low drive into the bottom corner to make it 3-0.
Surprisingly, top scorer Riding was absent from the score sheet after netting 7 in her previous two outing, but she should have scored with 20 minutes remaining. A neat ball from Pippa Schiavo put Riding through into the box and after her opponent slipped, she looked odds on to score but in Kealy-Hawkins read her attempt and gathered it in.
With just under 10 minutes remaining, the visitors mounted an unexpected comeback and it was the powerful Meaghan McElligot who gave Lions a nervy last few minutes.
On 85 minutes she weaved her way through the Lions defence and with a neat one-two from Lua Suero, slipped the ball past Hepburn to give her side late hope.
Three minutes later that hope turned to opportunity when McElligot further reduced the deficit, picking up a loose ball just outside the Lions box and firing high over Hepburn to get her second.
Lions managed to soak up the last couple of minutes of pressure as United tried their best to level but time ran out and Lions made it three from three.
Next week the Lionesses head to Teralba Park to take on Mitchelton in what could be another tight encounter.
Photo: Lions FC fullback, Kate Morton converts from the spot after being awarded a hand ball against Gold Coast United
Hepburn (gk), Chapman, Morton, Horsey, Riley, Hecher, Riding, Popovic, Harch, Hogg, Disavia.
Subs: Dale (rgk), Schiavo, Stanley, Maggio, Kenman.
Gold Coast Utd:
Kealy-Hawkins (gk), Fryer, Rayner, Doyle, Forsyth, Atkins, Thompson, Brown, Shrimpton, Elliston, McElligot.
Subs: Reuhe (rgk), Braithwaite, Reynolds, Suero, Byfield.