Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)
The defending 2015 Brisbane Premier League Premiers Lions FC have collected their first piece of silverware for 2016, defeating Brisbane Strikers 2-1 on Sunday evening at Lions Stadium in the BLK Silver Boot Final.
Alistair Davis cancelled out Michael Butters goal fifteen minutes after Lions scored first. Nathan Reardon delivered the knockout blow for the hosts in the dying minutes.
It was a tight first half where clear-cut opportunities were hard to come by for both sides.
Trent Clulow had the first chance of the match that he saw cleared by the Lions defensive unit for a corner.
Butters and Rhys Meredith tried in vain to open the scoring within minutes at either end of the park.
The Strikers gained ascendency momentarily at the midway stage of the opening stanza with Trent Clulow and Shaun Carlos denied.
Tim Morgan for Lions and Rhys Meredith for Strikers both had headers in the final five minutes of the half that fell wide of the target.
Five minutes after the break, Meredith went on a solo run down the right to be denied by Phil Zabaks down low at the near post.
The game was marred seven minutes into the second half when Matija Simic was injured in a challenge with Chris Maher. Simic requiring an ambulance to transport him to hospital with a suspected broken left leg.
Shortly after the resumption, the Strikers were caught on the hop and Butters put past Usai for the opening goal of the final.
Lions continued to find momentum after the long break. Schiavo had two opportunities minutes later to extend the lead.
The sides exchanged chances after that as Sam Knight delivered a perfect cross for Shelford Dais who fired into the upright then Peter Gaffney forced a sharp save from Usai.
Strikers coach Kevin A’herne-Evans made three changes midway through the first half, including Davis who is fast developing a reputation of scoring key goals for his new club.
The band got back together with twenty minutes remaining. Dais who provided four assists in the semi-final win linked up with hat-trick hero Davis who tapped in for the Strikers opener, taking advantage of a unresponsive Lions defence.
A desperate goalmouth scramble in the Lions attacking box with just over five minutes remaining almost saw the hosts take the lead once more.
Minutes later though, a desperate Strikers defence attempted to clear the ball but Reardon was on hand to drive through a crowded box to seal victory.
Marco Jankovic was named player of the final.
Easts Carter Glockner was named player of the tournament.
Lions start their BPL Premiership defence next week away to Rochedale while the Strikers will meet Brisbane Roar Youth at Perry Park in two weeks time.
Lions FC 2 (Michael Butters 55’, Nathan Reardon 89’) v Brisbane Strikers 1 (Alistair Davis 70’)
In the earlier 3rd v 4th playoff, Holland Park Hawks held a 6-1 lead with twenty minutes remaining. After Grae Piddock introduced several of his better players off the bench during the second half, Gold Coast City forced the game into extra time, tied at 6-6 after 90 minutes. A further two goals in extra time saw Gold Coast finish up 8-6 winners.
Holland Park make their inaugural BPL appearance next week at home against Mitchelton while Gold Coast City open up their NPL season in a fortnight against Redlands.
Gold Coast City 8 (Daniel Dragecevic 58’, 68′, Lyndon Dykes 75’, 83’, 85’ (pen), 97’, Tim Jackson 86’, Rhys Saunders 112’) v Holland Park 6 (Dean Briggs 18’, 22’, 33’, Sam Roper 44’, Dan Smith 60’ (pen), Marek Madel 63’)