Lions FC 5 (Riding 27′, 29′; Hecher 25′, 54′; Gunston 65′)
The Gap 5
The Lionesses were held to a 5-5 draw in their season opener at home to The Gap on Saturday night at Lions Stadium. A double each to Tegan Riding and Mariel Hecher along with a sublime strike from Amy Gunston, was not enough to take the points as The Gap kept the champions at bay with a hat trick from Laini Freier and double from Alexandria Walker.
A tentative opening period sprung to life on 10 minutes when Meisha Westland’s powerful strike from the edge of the box was superbly tipped over by Gap keeper Elli Chapple.
The woodwork then came to the aid of the visitors twice in a couple minutes midway through the half. Hecher’s free kick from outside the box cannoning off the bar before Jess Dillon’s effort following a corner was also denied by the bar.
Lions then struck twice soon after in the space of 2 minutes. Hecher breaking through the Gap defence and sliding the ball beyond Chappel. The Lions skipper then turned provider on 28 minutes when capitalising on an errant pass out from Chappel, playing in Riding who glanced the ball home from close range.
The hosts extended their lead further on the half hour when Riding got her second when fed through on goal and making no mistake with just Chappel to beat.
Lions should have made it four to the good just moments later when Teonie Rushton couldn’t quite scramble the ball home from inside the six yard box, denied by a defender’s foot just reaching the ball before she could tap home.
Gap did pull a goal back late in the half. Walker evading a challenge from Catherine O’Neill near the goal line and cutting back for Laini Freier to fire pass Isabella Shuttleworth for her first on the night.
The visitors came out firing at the restart of the second term, bringing the game level inside 6 minutes and after they already had the ball in the back of the net on 46 minutes, only to have the assistants flag rule it out.
Freier and Walker firing Gap level soon after with Freier’s long range strike seeing Shuttleworth only able to tip the ball onto the underside of the bar and in, followed by a neat build up that saw Sharn Freier sipping the ball to Walker to level the score.
Both sides then threw caution to the wind as they took it turns to score. Lions taking the lead again with one of the goals of the night when Hecher picked up the ball following a clearance from a Lions free kick and with a sharp turn, looped the ball into the top left corner.
Lions forced another goods save from Chappel with Westland yet again firing a powerful goal bound shot.
But on the hour Gap levelled the scores again. Walker skipping passed two Lions defenders before stabbing the ball beyond Shuttleworth.
The hosts again took the lead 5 minutes later. Amy Gunston with a superbly curled strike from the edge of the box which flew in off the post with Chappel stranded.
With Lions looming to go on with the game, a needless free kick was given away to the visitors in a dangerous position outside the box. Laini Freier stepping up to fire over the wall and in despite Shuttleworth getting hands to the ball but unable to prevent it creeping in off the underside of the bar.
Both sides had chances to take all the points with Lions going closest in added time when Gunston’s turn and lobbed shot went agonisingly over and onto the roof of the net.
In the end, it was perhaps a fair result on the balance of play with both sides displaying some exciting attacking football.
A less than ideal pre-season for the hosts maybe a hinderance to their performance here which undoubtedly will improve as they gain momentum with the season’s fixtures.
Next outing for the Lionesses is another home fixture against Capalaba Bulldogs.
“It’s disappointing. To lead 3-0 and not get the win feels like a loss. To concede 5 goals and score 5 goals is good for the neutral but when you score 5 times you should win football matches. It shows we have some issues with our defending.”
“I thought we were excellent in the first half. We had aspects of the game plan which the girls executed perfectly until the last couple of minutes when we conceded and that was a bit of a turning point. Instead of going into the break three goals up, Gap had hope and they came back and hit us hard second half, got momentum and we couldn’t get it back.”
Shuttleworth (gk), Clough, Dillon, Price, Riley, Hecher, Riding, Rushton, O’Neill, Gunston, Westland.
Subs: Abaza (rgk), Christmas, O’keeffe, Evetts, Rink.
Chapel (gk), Ward, Palmer, L. Freier, Walker, S. Freier, Daniells, Foster, Amajouyi, Zabala, Tanaka.
Subs: Dibley, McLennan, Sheaff, Takon, Weygood.
Referee: Taylah Scholefield