Lions come out best in battle of the big cats

Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)

After going down early, Lions scored three unanswered goals to claim a 3-1 win against Easts in their Sunday night BLK Group D encounter.

The popular saying is to ‘leave the best to last’ and this fixture lived up to that. It was the best match of the opening round and a game that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the regular season.

Inside ten minutes, an attempted clearance from Matija Simic went wrong as Carter Glockner was steaming in on the Lions goal. The pressure placed on the defender resulted in the ball ending up in the wrong net and the hosts were one-down within ten minutes.

The pressure continued to be placed on the Lions defensive line with Costa Psaros attempting to link up with Glockner.

Nelson Burgess then got a deflected cross in that momentarily caused confusion.

Lions began to find their groove though Alex Schiavo was foiled.

Just a minute later, Nathan Shepherd provided the assist for Michael Butters to score the equaliser.

eas v lio Halftime

Both sides then exchanged chances to take the lead. Ramone Close fired onto the woodwork for Easts and then immediately at the other end, Butters shot over the bar after being teed up by Schiavo chesting on.

Schiavo and Butters were in the thick of it again along with Josh Ahern. Butters again unable to find the go-ahead goal.

There were nervous moments for Lions towards the end of the opening stanza as Glockner went down inside the box but his penalty shout was correctly waved away by referee Martin Krenes.

Zabaks was forced to save at his near post in the dying embers before half time.

From the opening whistle of the second half, Butters combined with Nathan Shepherd but couldn’t beat Tom Carroll at the near post.

Butters and Shepherd continued to provide opportunities for their side before Michael Ryan headed on sharply at the other end only to be denied by a fully outstretched Zabaks.

On the hour, Lions were able to take the lead for the first time when Schiavo slotted low to beat Carroll at the near post.

Lions continued to pepper the Easts goal. Shepherd hit the upright with Schiavo collecting the rebound but skewing across the face and then moments later he attempted a chip over an advancing Carroll that was sent off-target.

If you want a player to provide a sensational goal to make for a more comfortable buffer, who do you call on? Andre Bonotto of course. The Brazillian dazzling on the volley from thirty metres into the corner of the net.

Momentum shifted again with Zabaks needing to be at his best several times as Easts searched for a result from the game.

Jason Tobin could have put it beyond doubt in the 90th minute but Carroll pulled off a wonderful save from close range.

Lions FC 3 (Michael Butters 23’, Alex Schiavo 60’, Andre Bonotto 72’) v Easts 1 (Own goal 9’)

Lions: Phil Zabaks (GK), Kenya Takahashi, Matija Simic, Liam Cosgrove, Jack Lewis, Marco Jankovic, Josh Ahern, Andre Bonotto, Michael Butters, Alex Schiavo, Nathan Shepherd, Jason Tobin, Peter Gaffney, Nathan Reardon, Tim Morgan, Declan Murphy (GK)

Easts: Tom Carroll (GK), Matt Boyd, Nelson Burgess, Michael Ryan, Lee Potts, Daniel Cunha, Ryan Stenhouse, James Grogan, Ramone Close, Carter Glockner, Costa Psaros, Toru Amano, Andy Coyne, Justin McMullen, Corey Sewell, Soh Narita