Lionesses Into Grand Final From Brink Of Elimination

Lions FC                     1 (Stanley 90+1′)
Gold Coast United      1 (Thompson 17′)
After Extra Time
HT 0-1
FT 1-1
Lions win 4-2 on penalties
Cassandra Zaffina was the hero of the hour when twice saving in a tense penalty shootout after Lions FC and Gold Coast Utd could not be separated.
The hosts were on the brink of bowing of the finals series after Deanna Thompson’s speculative long range lob in the first half had United leading up to second half injury time before Tanesha Stanley’s deflected cross floated in off the back post to send the game into extra time.
In truth it was a tight encounter with neither keeper really tested throughout.
United’s opener coming from Thompson’s effort after Zaffina had hurried a clearance. From some 30 yards out, the United striker lobbed the ball back towards goal and with the wind playing its part, Zaffina could only finger tip the ball into the top corner.
The second half saw a handful of opportunities with primarily the hosts seeing half chances come and go. The closest for Lions coming when a scramble in the box that saw shots from Hecher and Tiarna Karambasis cleared as Gold Coast rallied to repel whatever Lions presented.
Goal scorer Thompson had a good opportunity to put the game beyond doubt for the visitors with a quarter of an hour remaining, but under pressure she could only direct her shot towards Zaffina who gathered well.
In extra time, Lions looked the more dangerous with Riding thwarted by United keeper Brit Hargreaves when one on one and Hecher with a half chance directed straight at the Gold Coast stopper.
Eventually though neither side could be separated and it fell to penalties to decide who would go through to next weekend’s Grand Final.
At 2-1 to Lions, Zaffina pulled off the first of her saves. Hargeaves then denied Bek Horsey’s spot kick before Zaffina stepped up again with Lions at 3-1 and United’s kick next, guessing the right way and punching the ball away. That left Tegan Riding to fire past Hargreaves and send the Lionesses into next weekend’s final and a chance for the double.
Rob’s Comment:
“I felt the win was nothing less than we deserved. We dominated the game from start to finish. We had the greater possession and got into the right areas to create chances. But we knew it was going to be that kind of game as Gold Coast are difficult to score against.”
“Had we gone out I would have given Gold Coast a great deal of credit. Whenever we were close to scoring the showed absolute desperation in defence. Getting bodies in the way. They defend with phenomenal effort. They are a good side.”
“Credit to my girls though, they never gave up and got what they deserved, to equalise at the death and then score some sensational penalties in the shootout.”
Team line-ups:
Lions FC:
Zaffina (gk), Heatley, Morton, Hecher, Knight, Riding, O’Neill, Stanley, Karambasis, Westland, Horsey.
Subs: Shuttleworth (rgk), Hogg, Clough, Riley, Persson.
Gold Coast United:
Hargreaves (gk), Fryer, Gibson, Hogkinson, Doyle, Kitano, Forsyth, Akins, Thompson, Corbett, Hayashi.
Subs: Elliston, Lloyd, Saunderson, Adnum, Taylor.

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