By Rafe Griffin (@griffofootball)
Lions FC have recorded their second pre-season win in four days after accounting for Olympic 3-2 on Tuesday night at CJ Greenfield Reserve.
As is common during the preparation part of the season, both coaches elected for a modified three by thirty-minute periods with both sides using extended squads of around twenty players each.
Lions got on the board early when Andre Bonotto converted a third minute penalty. The one-on-one opportunity that led to the foul being blown would probably have seen Olympic go down to ten men in a more advanced pre-season game.
Olympic looked to reply two minutes later when Youeil Shol’s run into the box resulted in Lions ‘keeper Declan Murphy pulling off an outstanding save.
From there, Lions took control for large parts of the first period. Alex Schiavo, Kenya Takahashi and Tim Morgan all had chance in a ten-minute period to extend the scoreline as the Olympic defence had problems settling in.
Murphy was beaten in the 17th minute with a deflected shot from Sam Cronin but the left upright denied an equaliser.
Morgan doubled Lions advantage in the 20th minute after new recruit Peter Gaffney provided the assist. Morgan latching onto the deft pass, then providing a dummy to beat a defender before tucking the ball away at the back post across ‘keeper Brandon Cuminao.
Lions could have added a third with minutes remaining in the first stanza as Schiavo rounded Cuminao but the young custodian did enough to force the Lions striker to run wide and get an off-balance shot away.
The majority of the second period was devoid of clear-cut chances. Shol, promoted from Olympic’s youth squad, worked hard up front for Olympic but it would be a sublime free kick from Sam Cronin that would deliver his side’s first goal. Curled into the top right corner of the net, Murphy could only look on and Lions lead was reduced to 2-1.
Picture: Youeil Shol, promoted from Olympic’s 2015 youth squad, drives a free kick towards goal.
It was more of the same in the final thirty minutes as coaches Warren Moon and Jim Bellas elected to gradually remove their more experienced players from the game. Bellas would have been happy with some of the defensive efforts of his younger charges during this time, Yioti Bellas and replacement ‘keeper Dakota Sprange especially putting in good shifts.
However with twenty minutes remaining, Lions restored their two-goal advantage as Jason Pillay’s wide effort was denied by the woodwork but Tariq Hammad was on hand to tap the rebound away.
With ten minutes to play, it was Pillay again who had a superb shot parried away by Sprange only for Hammad’s subsequent effort to be cleared off the line by Tom Walker.
From the resulting Olympic counter-attack, Lions conceded an own goal with Marco Jankovic booming the ball into the wrong net.
Morgan and Hammad between them should have given Lions a fourth shortly before the full-time whistle but they found the crossbar and a shot narrowly wide of the left upright respectively.
Both sides will continue their pre-season preparations after the Christmas break and are scheduled to compete in Lions BLK Silver Boot tournament starting in mid-January.
Lions FC 3 (Andre Bonotto 3’ (pen), Tim Morgan 20’, Tariq Hammad 70’) v Olympic 2 (Sam Cronin 55’, Own goal (Jankovic) 82’)
Lions FC: Declan Murphy, Matija Simic, Jack Lewis, Andre Bonotto, Alex Schiavo, Marco Jankovic, Tim Morgan, Peter Gaffney, Danyon Mollee, Kenya Takahashi, Jason Pillay, Nick Piper, Alex Clark, Josh Ahern, Tariq Hammad, Chris Parson, Matheus Grellert, Liam Cosgrove.
Olympic: Brandon Cuminao, Josh Jokic, James Cuminao, Bobby Irving, Elliot White, Matt Mundy, Logan Grillo, Scott Bow, Tom Walker, Sergio Castel, Matt Heath, Ryan Roderick, Theo Kambanis, Kosi Yannakopolos, Sam Cronin, Youeil Shol, Yioti Bellas, Lochlan Griffiths, Dakota Sprange.