Lions to meet Strikers in Boot Final

Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)
lio v gc finalThe BLK Silver Boot hosts Lions FC have prevailed over Gold Coast City 3-2 in an entertaining and high tempo second semi-final.

The teams exchanged goals with Alex Schiavo and Marco Jankovic netting for Lions, assisted by an own goal while Gold Coast City replied through a Roman Hofmann penalty and substitute Daniel Dragecevic.

Kenya Takahashi was keen to get proceedings underway as he attempted to drive through the pack in the opening minute but a Gold Coast defender was able to get their body in the way.

Rhys Saunders then attacked for City. Using his pace he was able to beat Jack Lewis but Lions keeper Phil Zabaks at the near post dealt with the resulting shot.

Lions claimed the opener when Nathan Shepherd delivered a delightful cross for an unmarked Schiavo. He took on the volley first time to beat Shane Viitakangas.

City could have had an equaliser from the restart but miscommunication between Lyndon Dykes and Nik Mirkovic inside the box allowed the Lions defenders valuable recovery time to defuse the situation.

Takahashi continued to threaten for the hosts while at the other end, McKay provided a special delivery for Ben Litfin but he was deemed to have handled in attempting to score.

Controversy would reign in Gold Coast’s equaliser as Matija Simic was adjudged to have brought down Rhys Saunders, without appeal, inside the box. Roman Hofmann converted the resulting penalty.

There was concern for Lions on halftime when Rhys Saunders brought down Simic in a heavy challenge in a running battle between the two. The defender forced to hobble to the dressing room and taking no further part in the remainder of the match.

The opening exchanges of the second half started with Lions creating the better opportunities. Michael Butters chesting down but shooting wide.

Lions got their nose ahead again when Shepherd has his shot chested away by Tim Jackson but straight to a waiting Marco Jankovic who made no mistake.

Takahashi and Shepherd continued in the attacking spirit before Zabaks was called into action after a Gold Coast counter.

The match was all-square once again after City coach Grae Piddock rang the changes. Morgan Saunders had only just entered the action played a pass towards Dykes but it would be Dragecevic, himself just being recently introduced, to take advantage of some loose Lions marking.

Five minutes later, Gold Coast conceded a third in unfortunate circumstances with Eoghan Murphy heading into his own net.

The remainder of the match saw the end-to-end nature of the match continue with Palm Beach unable to send the match into extra time despite having opportunities to equalise.

The win sees Lions progress to Sunday night’s final where they will meet Brisbane Strikers at 7pm. The two teams have already met in the pre-season where the Strikers came away 2-0 winners pre-Christmas.

Gold Coast City and Holland Park will play off in the 5pm 3rd v 4th playoff.

Lions FC 3 (Alex Schiavo 10’, Marco Jankovic 55’, own goal 75’) v Gold Coast City 2 (Roman Hofmann 34’ (pen), Daniel Dragecevic 70’)

Lions: Phil Zabaks, Michael Butters, Jason Tobin, Matija Simic, Jack Lewis, Kenya Takahashi, Peter Gaffney, Alex Schiavo, Nathan Reardon, Nathan Shepherd, Marco Jankovic, Tim Morgan, Pazung Thang, Liam Cosgrove, Matthew Spindorello Declan Murphy.

Gold Coast: Shane Viitakangas, Matt Jones, Drew Jeskey, Tim Jackson, Riley Dillon, Roman Hofmann, Justyn McKay, Ben Litfin, Rhys Saunders, Lyndon Dykes, Nik Mirkovic, Jarrod Kyle, Ethan Grimley, Eoghan Murphy, Morgan Saunders, Daniel Dragecevic.