Lions FC 3 (Madle 5′, 90+5′; Carlos 15′)
Olympic FC 2 (Lofthouse 34′; Lucas 86′)
Marek Madle’s winner deep in added time saw Lions FC return to the winners circle just as Olympic FC thought they had earned a draw in this frenetic Grand Final rematch.
Lions took an early lead when Jheison Macuace’s jinking run to the goal line before cutting back inside his opponent to deliver a pin point ball into the six yard box where Madle was on had to head the hosts in front.
The hosts extended their lead 10 minutes later when Chris Hatfield turned brilliantly and delivered in a deep cross for Shaun Carlos who headed back across goal, over Olympic keeper Brandon Cuminao and into the far corner to make it 2-0.
Madle went close again midway through the half when his header from Nathan Shepherd’s cross was tipped away by Cuminao.
The visitors weren’t without their chances though with Luke Borean called into action on a couple of occasions. Most notably to thwart Chris Lucas one on one following Shelford Dais’s neat through ball.
Moments later though, Olympic did pull a goal back when the ever lively Jez Lofthouse fired into the far corner of Borean’s goal.
The second half saw the visitors take control of the game with Lions keeper Borean again called upon.
The mercurial stopper denied Chris Lucas’s long range effort with a fine full stretch dive to tip the ball behind and on the hour, he again halted Lucas when smothering his shot from the edge of the box.
Midway through the half Madle almost restored the two goal buffer when meeting a Shaun Carlos cross, but his header fell nicely for Cuminao to gather.
With time running out, Olympic stunned the home crowd when Lucas scrambled the ball past Borean from close range to level proceedings with 5 minutes remaining.
The visitors then almost grabbed the lead in the first minute of added time. Lofthouse with a stinging shot that Broean palmed away and with the keeper stranded it looked like being an easy tap in only for Nathan Shepherd to prevent the inevitable and stab the ball clear.
With both teams hunting for a winner, it would be the hosts who would pounce. A free kick on returning midfielder Mitch Hore just inside Lions half saw everyone push up into the box with Borean launching the ball deep into the penalty area where Madle escaped his marker and cooly fire past Cuminao for what would prove to be the winner.
As Lions celebrated, Olympic Coach Ben Cahn was sent from the bench by Referee Matt Skinner.
In fairness, the visitors were good for a point on the night having dominated large parts of the second half but in typical Marek Madle fashion, he would prove the difference in a big game.
Lions welcomed the return of Mitch Hore who entered the fray just after the hour mark to replace Adam Sawyer.
The game itself proved a great advertisement for the NPL competition with a highly vocal away support creating a great atmosphere at Lions Stadium.
For Lions, it was a welcomed return to three points following last week’s defeat to Gold Coast Knights.
Next up comes a midweek RD4 FFA Cup clash at home to FQPL side Capalaba Bulldogs as Warren Moon’s side look to once again reach the Round of 32.
“We started really well. In the first 20 minutes we were comfortable and control. But there was one moment in the game that let them back in to it and rattled us for the remainder of the half.”
“We still felt we’d get something out of the game and with a couple of minutes to go I felt we’d still do that. However a draw would have been a fair result too. They dominated the second half. We did well to hold them out and it was a strong defensive effort from us which we’re renowned for.”
“In the end it could have gone either way. Shepherd near the end made a great tackle on the goal line to save it and this time it ended up going our way. Credit to Marek – he stepped up for the big game occasion again. He took his goal well under pressure.”
Team Line ups:
Borean (gk), Simic, Jarrard, Sawyer, Hatfield, Macuace, Shepherd, Thompson, Carlos, Kim, Madle.
Subs: Riley (rgk), Hore, Reardon, Brindell-South.
B. Cuminao (gk), Glover, Waters, Dais, Ito, Lucas, Lofthouse, Psaros, Lasm, Nazary, J. Cuminao.
Subs: Mooney (rgk), Whyte, Smith, Shol, Huang.
Referee: Matt Skinner