Lions FC 5 (M. Hore 10′, 75′, 90′; Duckworth 52′; Farina 63′)
Eastern Suburbs 1 (Balazero 66′)
A hat trick to Mitch Hore helped seal a resounding 5-1 success over Eastern Suburbs at Lions Stadium on Saturday evening as Lions maintained top spot on the NPL ladder.
Lions saw the return of Marco Jankovic to the club, just one of many players having returned to Queensland following the cancellation of football in Victoria due to COVID-19, as he slotted into the space left by the departure of Danny Kim.
Lions started the brighter in a game that posed a challenge with the resurgence of Easts in recent outings and the recruitment of players such as Jade North to their ranks.
However, the Easts defence were left staring at each other on 10 minutes as they allowed Mitch Hore too much room on the edge of the box. With a fein to pass the ball wide, he instead opened his body up and sublimely guided the ball beyond the reach of Easts keeper Tomislav Mesaric, with the ball nestling in the bottom right corner to open the scoring.
The visitors almost levelled just after the quarter mark but a superb last ditch sliding block from Tommy Jarrard saw speedy front man Abrahim Yango’s shot on goal cleared away.
Chances were few in a close opening stanza with the visitors perhaps enjoying the greater of possession, but against a side that concedes less than a goal a game, they were held at bay.
Midway through the half Joe Duckworth went close when put clear. His effort flashing just wide of the post with what appeared to be a touch from Mesaric.
With almost the last touch of the half, former Tiger Jordan Farina ought to have hit the target with a free header from a corner. His effort though going well over.
Easts returned more determined for the second half and almost levelled inside the opening minute. Anthony Poljak fizzing a shot across the face of goal and wide.
Jarrard was once again the saviour two minutes later when he again thwarted Yango with a block at close range that saw the Easts striker’s shot loop over the bar for a corner.
Those missed chances would prove costly for the Tigers as Lions extended their lead moments later.
A clumsy challenge from behind on Farina by North saw Referee Max Crane point to the spot. Duckworth stepping up for the spot kick only to see it saved by Mesaric, but Duckworth had the presence of mind to follow up on the rebound and tuck the ball away to the despair of the Easts gloveman.
Henry Hore went close on the hour mark to making it three to the good when Delors Tuyishime coughed up possession just outside the box but a couple of efforts were blocked well as the Easts defence recovered only to then be completely undone two minutes later.
Lions quick to transition out from the back after pressure from the visitors with Duckworth finding Farina in space with a long range pass. The Lions striker making his way into the box before slipping the ball under Mesaric.
Easts did manage a reply a couple of minutes later when Jayden Balazero struck from close range but any hope of a comeback was put to bed with a quarter of an hour remaining.
Patient build up play saw the home side progress up the park smoothly and finding Mitch Hore in space in the box. His strike emphatically dispatched past Mesaric to all but the seal the three points.
Hore then put the icing on the cake in the 90th minute, earning himself the match ball when again leaving Mesaric stranded as he fired high beyond the Easts keeper to help boost Lions goal difference.
The scoreline perhaps flattered the hosts who were matched well by their opponents in the first half and were it not for some solid defending, could have gone behind early in the second half.
In the end though, it was another professional performance from Lions who didn’t take their foot off the pedal until the final whistle had been blown, constantly pressing high up the field and giving Easts little time on the ball, particularly in the second term.
Next week Lions head to Perry Park where they take on Brisbane Strikers. Strikers languishing at the foot of the table but a side not to be taken lightly.
Team Line ups:
Borean (gk), Jarrard, Simic, M Hore, Shepherd, H. Hore, Duckworth, McDonald, Farina, Reardon, Jankovic.
Subs: Murphy (rgk), Kasahara, Mears, Maltby, Walpole.
Mesaric (gk), Cavanagh, Balazero, Tuyishime, Barnett, Capelo, Yango, Son, Dimitroff, North, Poljak.
Subs: Sparksman, Cant, MacGillivray, Klaassen, Salin.
Referee: Max Crane