Lions FC 5 (Persson 4′, 55′, 71’pen; Knight 6′; OG 37′)
Eastern Suburbs 2 (Lambi 75′; Amos 80′)
Sofie Persson’s hat trick helped seal another three points for Lions FC in a 5-2 defeat of Eastern Suburbs at Lions Stadium on Saturday night to keep their 5 point buffer at the top of the table.
Lions got off to the best possible start, going two goals up in the opening six minutes.
Persson first onto a loose ball in the box after the visitors failed to clear from Whitney Knight’s cut back from the goal line with the Lions midfielder getting a foot to the ball and guiding over Easts keeper and former Lion Kaytlyn Dale on four minutes.
The hosts second came from another trade mark Lions move. Tegan Riding put through into space and making a beeline for the goal line before cutting it across the six yard box where Knight raced in to guide the ball in from close range.
Easts almost immediately pulled one back just two minutes later a ball drilled across the face of goal cannoned off the far post as the hosts survived the scare.
Dale was in fine form shortly after the half hour for Easts to deny a point blank strike from Riding who’d latched onto Leah Davidson’s lay off pass. Dale throwing herself at the shot and repelling the ball away for a corner in some discomfort.
The hosts were gifted a third towards the end of the half. Riding again involved as her attempted cut back pass was flicked at by Arina Tokunaga who diverted the ball over Dale into the back of the net.
The second half continued to live up to the first with Lions further extending their lead just before the hour mark.
Davidson, making her debut for Lions, bravely intercepted a loose ball before being scythed down just outside the box, but good advantage from the referee allowed play to continue with Persson picking up Davdison’s pass and calmly slipping the ball past Dale on 55 minutes.
Persson went close twice ten minutes later to getting her third, but was superbly denied by Dale who first blocked her initial shot before getting a hand to the follow up effort from a tighter angle.
Moments later though Persson would earn herself the match ball but in somewhat fortunate circumstances. The assistant referee judging there had been a hand ball in the box following a shot from Riding. Persson stepping up and drilling the ball home from 12 yards.
To their credit, the visitors didn’t give up and reduced the deficit with two goals in five minutes.
Zoe Lambi finding the back of the net from a cut back on 75 minutes and soon after, good build up play saw Tiffany Robert play the ball across the face of goal to an unmarked Georgina Amos at the back post who buried the ball into an empty net.
A couple of chances to Lorena Maggio could have made things nervy for the hosts had she capitalised. The first saw her in space but dragging her effort wide before a minute later the Easts midfielder forced a good save from Lions stopper Isabella Shuttleworth, in for an absent Cassandra Zaffina, clawing away a looping effort that looked to be heading in.
In a frenetic finish to the game, Lions went agonisingly close to a sixth. Mariel Hecher given too much time on the ball before drilling a shot from some 25 yards out that rebounded of the corner angle of the goal. The rebound picked up by sub Jess Hogg who’s shot was brilliantly blocked by Dale and amazingly Kate Morton’s follow up strike skimming off the post as the ball refused to go in.
In the end it was a comfortable win for the hosts. A second half reshuffle perhaps upsetting the hosts rhythm and allowing Easts back into the game, but inevitably the early goals proved significant for Lions taking the points in this one.
Next round the Lionesses head to Brisbane Roar QAS as they continue to tighten their grip on the NPLW title.
“I think Easts are a very good side and us getting those two early goals was the buffer we needed. I thought we managed the game really well until the second half, because it wasn’t any one individual, collectively for a ten minute period we stopped playing and assumed things would happen.”
“They have some very good players and they didn’t stop looking to score goals. I made some changes to give some players game time and shuffled things a little and perhaps that unsettled us but we didn’t defend well or transition well in that period and we conceded a couple of goals. Thank god they didn’t get a third goal as things could have started to get pretty stressful.”
Shuttleworth (gk), Heatley, Clough, Davidson, Morton, Hecher, Knight, Riding, Persson, O’Neill, Horsey.
Subs: Riley, Stanley, Hogg, Westland.
Dale (gk), Mudnic, Tokunaga, Dixon, Popovic, Coyne, Roberts, Maggio, Gibson, Tanaka, Amos.
Subs: Duffy (rgk), Grimmelt, Lambi, Thompson, Amadio.