Rangers and Lions play out epic thriller

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Pic credit: Tom Orr Snr

Rose Calvert

Nine different goal scorers played their part in the 5-4 epic clash between Marlin Coast Rangers and Leichhardt Lions at Pennell Field on Saturday evening in the Far North Queensland Premier Women’s Competition.

Coming off a 5-0 upset to second-placed Southside Comets, the visiting Lions battled goal-for-goal against fifth-placed Rangers to retain fourth spot by stealing the deciding goal in the dying moments of the game.

Despite conceding the four goals, the Lions attacking play was impressive; a vast improvement from last week’s Round nine fixture that saw the Lions suffer a 5-0 upset to second-placed Southside Comets after failing to convert crucial chances. 

The thrilling goal-a-thon round ten action kicked off from the starting whistle with a beautiful through ball issued to Lions skipper Stacey Jones who led with pace for a one-on-one finish past Ranger goalkeeper Natalie Castro in the first minute of play.

In fantastic viewing fashion the home-side responded instantly from the restart with Ranger Nicole Meath pocketing the ball home from a long-range shot.

With both teams still fighting for composure and possession during the initial touches of the game, it wasn’t long until the scorecard was adjusted and levelled once more.

Lions vice-captain Natalie Fichera deployed some nifty touches through the midfield to open up a shot on goal, unleashing a left-footed rocket that was guided into the back of the net off a deflection from Ranger Monique Ward.

Ward was quick to amend the accidental home goal by scoring a goal two minutes later via a first-touch volley off a corner to see the scores levelled two-all coming in to half time.

The Lions picked up the possession leading into the second half, but some good individual passages of play from Ranger Michelle Brett proved dangerous for the visitor’s defence line with the wide flanker almost finding net after a brilliant one-on-one opportunity.

Lion Fichera looked to give her side a 3-2 lead; the talented corner-taker deploying one of her signature curled kicks into goal that was deflected off the goal-line from a Ranger’s feet standing corner post.

The home-side instead took the 3-2 lead in the 50th minute via Ranger Shae Mortimer who tapped the ball home from a cross in.  

In keeping with the goal-for-goal, blink and you’ll miss it action-packed entertainment, the Lions responded instantly within the same 50-minute mark; fifteen-year old Keagan Fittock firing a stunning shot from 30 meters out.

The home-side took their second lead for the evening when referee Andrew Osborne penalised Lion defender Claire Kellam-Stock for an accidental hand-ball in the box. Ranger Laura Williams, an ex-Lion, stepped up to the plate to convert the penalty giving her side a 4-3 lead with 20 minutes left to play.   

The Lions levelled the scores for the final time eight minutes later; the young attacking weapon Alicia Lazarus producing the goal of the match from way out wide in a seemingly impossible, cross-in style finish. With scores locked at four-all, Lion Ria Collie pocketed the winning goal in the 87th minute from outside the 18-year box to round off the high-scoring thriller.

The win keeps Leichhardt in fourth place, tied with Innisfail on 12 points and two points clear of Marlin Coast.

In the other fixtures, the undefeated Southside Comets secured a win over third-placed Innisfail Cutters with their 3-1 victory at home.

 The Comets put two of their three goals away in the first half via Leah Scroggie in the first five minutes and Amy Walton 10 minutes later. Scroggie and Walton received shadow and Queensland team selections respectively at this year’s State Championships.

 Olivia Hurren pushed the Comets to a 3-0 lead in the 52nd minute, but after dropping to ten players via a 70th minute send off for Comet Zoe Banister, Innisfail managed to find net through Kiara Camuglia in the last four minutes of play.

 Round 10 wrapped up in a surprise result between the Stratford Dolphins and the Mareeba Bulls with the last-placed Dolphins finding their first win for the season in a 2-1 victory at home.

 The Edge Hill Tigers had the bye.