Lions FC have secured the Premiership-Championship double in dramatic fashion, defeating Olympic FC 2-1 in an extra time thriller in the National Premier Leagues Queensland Grand Final at Lions Stadium.
Olympic took an early lead through Steve Whyte, going into the break with a 1-0 advantage before Lions levelled the game in the 58th minute and netted again in the first five minutes of extra time to claim the NPL Championship.
The visitors looked the better side in the opening stages of the game, maintaining control and capitalising on their possession to take an early lead.
Olympic’s Steve Whyte opened the scoring in the 15th minute, doing some good work to get around Lions’ defence and into the box to score from close range.
It was Olympic with all the chances in the first half, with Lions looking better as the half wore on but unable to make the most of their possession in the last 20 minutes and remaining behind on the scoreboard heading into the break.
A free kick in the 58th minute led to Lions’ equaliser after a perfect ball from Andrew Thompson found the head of Nathan Reardon, who buried the ball into the net.
Olympic were unlucky to score soon after, with Lions’ goalkeeper Luke Borean producing a spectacular save off a Jez Lofthouse shot to keep his team level.
Just a minute later, an Olympic corner forced another desperate save from beanie-clad Borean, this time from a Matt Mundy header, with Lions’ Nathan Reardon left to hammer the ball clear of the box after a goalmouth scramble.
It was an end to end half, with both sides creating opportunities to score but unable to convert their chances before the 90 minutes came to an end.
The winning goal of the game came in only the fifth minute of extra time, when a good ball in from a Nathan Shepherd corner found the head of Lions’ Marek Madle to give the hosts the lead for the first time in the Grand Final.
Olympic had a golden opportunity to get back into the game in the second half of extra time from a long ball into the box off the foot of Costa Psaros, but substitute Alexander Smith’s header flew just above the net.
After 120 minutes and a hard-fought battle, Lions secured the come-from-behind victory to claim the Premiership-Championship double in their inaugural year in the NPL Queensland.
Lions coach Warren Moon said he was proud of his team’s second half performance after Olympic held the advantage leading into the break.
“We were very much second best in that first half; Olympic were far better but with this team it’s about finding a way back in the game and when we did, they showed what true champions they are and what great character they have,” Moon said.
“That was the two best teams going hammer and tong and both going hard and Olympic had the advantage and we worked our way back in and managed to find a way to win.”
Words: Elizabeth Lepre
Image: Alison Langevad/Football Queensland