Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)
A dominant second half from the reigning Premiers put behind the disappointment of last week’s loss with Lions coming away 4-1 winners against Mitchelton in their Saturday night Brisbane Premier League match.
A penalty to either side in the first half, Ben Njie for Mitchelton and Nathan Shepherd for Lions was added to in the second half for Lions with a double to Michael Butters, and a single to Andre Bonotto.
It was an arm-wrestle early doors, the first chance coming Mitchelton’s way on eleven minutes when Jacob Mitchell delivered a cross that drew Lions keeper Phil Zabaks into action. The rebound fell for Michael Willoughby who had his effort cleared off the line.
Very next minute, again Mitchell delivered this time for Njie who should have done better than put his chance wide.
Lions struggled at times to find a way through their final third due to a Mitchelton defence that tightly marked their opponents. When they were able to get through, it was Butters looking to cause the most damage with his stunning pace.
His side benefitted midway through the first half when he rounded a defender and was pushed over in the box. Shepherd delivered a clinical finish from the spot into the top left corner that left Downes rooted to his line.
Butters again threatened the Mustangs’ defensive line, crossing along the by-line for Schiavo at the near post. The ball sliding past him but Shepherd was waiting at the back post who put wide from close range.
Mitchelton would reply with a penalty of their own two minutes from the break. Njie was brought down deep in the box by Spirandorello. Njie converted his own penalty and scores were level as the teams received their half-time debriefs.
Whatever Lions coach Warren Moon did in his halftime talk, it was successful. While shots toward goal were even between the teams, Mitchelton held a 57% advantage in terms of possession.
That statistic switched the other way through the second period as Mitchelton had very few incursions into their attacking half.
Shepherd and Alex Schiavo had chances for Lions in the first fifteen minutes of the second half but it would ultimately be Butters who would restore his side’s advantage. From a corner, Mitchelton attempted to keep the ball from crossing the line but to no avail.
Bonotto made it a two-goal buffer with the assistance of the upright.
When Butters claimed his second of the night, there looked like no way that Mitchelton would get back into the match.
A rare glimmer for the home side came when substitute Tim Lawson forced Zabaks into a diving save to his left with fifteen to play.
From the resulting corner, Lions went the length of the park before Shoheel Khan almost poked one home but was cleared off the line.
Mitchelton 1 (Ben Njie 43’ (pen)) v Lions 4 (Nathan Shepherd 22’ (pen), Michael Butters 58’, 72’, Andre Bonotto 62’)
Possession: MIT 45-55 LIO
Corners: MIT 6-6 LIO
Shots on target: MIT 5-12 LIO
Shots off target: MIT 9-6 LIO
Mitchelton: Kevin Downes, Lewis Teevan (Haris Avdic 76’), Nick Benardi, Jeremy Griffin, Jacob Mitchell, Lachlan Munn (Tim Lawson 59’), Ben Njie, Gabriel Sarasol, Jackson Stubbins (Esala Masi 84’), Michael Willoughby, Kensho Yoshikoshi. Sub not used: Damon Wenck.
Lions: Phil Zabaks, Peter Gaffney (Jason Tobin 77’), Jack Lewis, Mattheuas Spiandorello, Kenya Takahashi, Marco Jankovic, Andre Bonotto (Tariq Hammad 82’), Josh Ahern, Nathan Shepherd (Shoheel Khan 69’), Alex Schiavo, Michael Butters. Subs not used: Liam Cosgrove, Declan Murphy.
Referee: Tony Sarai