Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)
It wasn’t the most convincing performance at times despite the scoreline but Lions remain on track to claim a semi-final spot at the BLK Silver Boot after a 5-1 defeat of Ipswich Knights in their Sunday night Group D match.
A double to Alex Schiavo combined with Nathan Shepherd, Marco Jankovic and Tariq Hamad scoring for the hosts ensured the win with Lucas Wilson providing his side’s goal.
Lions made a blistering start in the second minute when Nathan Shepherd provided the assist for Schiavo who was able to place a shot across the Knights keeper.
They continued to have the better of what attacking chances that were on offer. Michael Butters playing Schiavo in but wasn’t able to get an effective shot away. The hosts then had a goal ruled out from an offside call.
Knights’ best chance came when Kenya Takahashi made a poor clearance straight to Eddie Anthony. He then passed to Wilson who put it onto the top netting.
Loose marking by Lions directly contributed to the Ipswich Knights goal when Emmanuel Peters was able to get a cross in and this time Wilson made no mistake heading past Phil Zabaks.
Knights glove man Matt Baker was then called into action on two occasions with Shepherd forcing a sharp save at the near post then denying Butters who was zeroing in on goal.
The Knights than gifted Lions a penalty with a silly challenge on Peter Gaffney in the box. Shepherd stepped up to take the penalty and got enough curl on the attempt to beat Baker who had guessed the right direction.
Schiavo couldn’t score another when quick feet from a Knights defender stopped his attempt at the near post.
It looked like there were some moments of truth in the Lions dressing room at half time. Despite dominating with 65% possession in the first half, that pressure didn’t convert onto the scoreboard.
The hosts came out more keen with firstly Takahashi having a sharp chance
then Reardon touched on a half volley towards the back post only for a goal line clearance from Yusuice Ikeda in a touch and go decision as to whether the ball crossed the line.
The early second-half pressure told though for the Knights as Jankovic scored with the assistance of a heavy deflection off a defender.
Knights almost found an immediate reply from the restart that had the Lions defence scrambling.
Schiavo then ran through at full-pace but had his effort saved by an advancing Baker mid-way in the box.
Midway through the second period, Takahashi had the ball at the top of the box before proceeding to maneuver his way through defenders, getting inside the six-yard area and then squaring for Schiavo who was unable to connect.
Tariq Hamid ensured maximum points heading home from close range when capitalising on Liam Cosgrove’s cross.
Schiavo collected his double with minutes remaining to make the buffer even more comfortable.
The second consecutive loss to Ipswich Knights sees their hopes of progressing out of the group dashed while Lions will only need to draw against SWQ Thunder in their final Group D match.
Lions FC 5 (Alex Schiavo 2’, 88′, Nathan Shepherd 28’ (pen)), Marco Jankovic 52’, Tariq Hamid 83’) v Ipswich Knights 1 (Lucas Wilson 21’)
Lions: Phil Zabaks (GK), Michael Butters, Jason Tobin, Matija Simic, Kenya Takahashi, Peter Gaffney, Alex Schiavo, Nathan Reardon, Nathan Shepherd, Marco Jankovic, Liam Cosgrove, Matheus Spindorello, Tariq Hamid, Thang Pazung, Jason Pillay, Declan Murphy (GK).
Ipswich Knights: Matt Baker (GK), Thomas Sotiriais, Jacob Hines, Chris Butler, Yusuice Ikeda, Dan Liddy, Dale Robinsin, Emmanuel Peter, Lucas Wilson, Eddie Anthony, Mitch Davis, James MacArthur, Faryan Kavianpour, Phil Brown, Lachlan Jackson, Matt Savini.