Lions FC 1 (Madle 4′)
Edgeworth Eagles 0
Marek Madle’s early first half strike proved to be the decisive goal in a tight National NPL Quarter Final against Northern NSW NPL Champions Edgeworth Eagles.
The hosts got off to the best possible start when Madle got the decisive touch just before the five minute mark following a good move from Jean Carlos Solorzano’s to release Andy Thompson down the right who delivered a teasing cross for the Lions striker to pounce on.
Lions dominated the half but almost conceded on 12 minutes when former Central Coast Mariner Josh Rose spurned a good opportunity.
Despite the possession stakes favouring the hosts, it wasn’t until the half hour mark that Lions almost doubled their lead. Again a dangerous cross from Solorzano was met by Madle who’s effort from six yards out was superbly blocked by Eagle’s keeper Josh Low.
A minute later Edgeworth should have levelled when another former Central Coast Mariner Daniel McBreen blazed a point blank header wide of the mark.
The second half saw neither side take control of the game and likewise very little in the way of clear cut opportunities as the game petered out, perhaps a victim of both sides coming off the end of long NPL seasons and grand final encounters the previous week.
Lions best chance of the second term falling to Nathan Shepherd shortly after the restart when he met Mitch Hore’s neat ball to him on the edge of the box, but the Scot flashed his shot across the face of goal and wide of the nark.
With time running out, the visitors had the ball in the back of the net with McBreen firing past Lions keeper Luke Borean, however the assistant referee’s flag was up for the Eagle’s striker being offside.
Minutes later McBreen saw an early end to his game when clattering late into Borean. Referee Adam Kersey showing him his second caution followed by red.
A head injury to stand in captain Nathan Reardon, deputising for the absent Matija Simic. Several minutes of treatment saw Reardon patched up with a head bandage as the hosts saw out the final minutes of added time to seal victory and a semi-final showdown next Tuesday evening at home to reigning National NPL Champions Heidelberg United.
“I honestly felt it was an awful match. Both sides have come out of good seasons and grand finals and that match smacked of a game low on intensity and sides that struggled to find the lift needed for a game like this.”
“We scored the goal early and I think we controlled the game in the way of possession and chances but they had three or four good moments. I never really felt threatened even with ten to go and we looked comfortable. It was though a really awful match but thankfully we’re through to the next round.”
On Tuesday’s quick turnaround against Heidelberg.
“Yes we’re back again on Tuesday. One thing I said to the boys after the game was well done on winning but we have to play a hell of a lot better if they want to compete against the national champions here or it could get ugly.”
Borean (gk), Thompson, Reardon, Jarrard, Hore, Brindell-South, Solorzano, Shepherd, Carlos, Kim, Madle.
Subs: Cuminao (rgk), Walpole, Maher, Glockner, Webster.
Low (gk), McBreen, Maxwell, Wheeler, Atayde, Spurway, Oppedisano, Cawley, Evans, Rose, McLoughlin.
Subs: Crook (rgk), Bower, Byrnes, Garland, Holz.