Lions FC and Moreton Bay United will go head-to-head in an epic battle this weekend as both teams will fight to secure victory in the 2019 National Premier League Women’s (NPLW) Queensland Grand Final.
After 26 rounds and four Final Series matches, Lions FC and Moreton Bay United will meet at Lions Stadium this Saturday, 21 September, where only one team can emerge victorious.
As both teams finished the season in the top two on the ladder, the Grand Final match will be a fascinating clash as it features a battle between two of the strongest teams from the NPLW Queensland.
SEASON SO FAR
Lions FC have been the standout team in the NPLW competition this year, finishing the regular season in the top spot on 61 points to secure the 2019 Premiership.
The team has showcased impressive form in the front line as well as in the back line. Across the season, they amassed a total of 108 goals scored and conceded only 22, meaning they had the best offensive and defensive record this season.
But their latest form has been hit and miss as they won only two of their last five games including their Semi Final penalty shootout win over Gold Coast United last weekend.
In the do-or-die match, Gold Coast United had the upper hand for the first half. Lions fought hard in the second half and a late goal in stoppage time from Lions’ Tanesha Stanley sent the match to extra time, before eventually leading to penalties where Lions sealed their victory thanks to a couple of vital saves by keeper Cassandra Zaffina.
Moreton Bay United on the other hand have had a similar journey to the Grand Final. Across the season they scored 108 goals, tying with Lions for the best offensive record. They were less impressive in defence though, conceding 30 goals during the regular season, 8 more than Lions.
They also recorded 18 wins, two draws and four losses to finish the regular season in second spot on 56 points.
Out of their last five matches, they won three including their Semi Final win against Gap FC. It was an intense clash as The Gap gained the early advantage with a Ruth Blackburn goal in the fifth minute.
But eventually, Allira Toby proved to be the star for Moreton Bay United as she scored a double early in the second half to send her side to the Grand Final.
Lions FC and Moreton Bay United met twice early in the regular season with Lions triumphing in both matches.
Their first meeting was in Round 1 where Lions came out on top with a 2-0 win courtesy of goals from Mariel Hecher and Whitney Knight.
Their second encounter was in Round 14 and had a similar outcome. Hecher scored a double with Tegan Riding and Catherine O’Neill also contributing to the score for Lions’ 4-1 win. Rylee Baisden meanwhile scored a consolation for Moreton Bay United.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
As the team holding the best offensive and defensive record this season, Lions have excelled with players in both the front line and back line.
Up front, Tegan Riding has continuously made her presence known week in and week out. Featuring an incredible ten times in Team of the Week, Riding was the top goal scorer for Lions and second best scorer in the overall competition, with 30 goals to her name.
Similarly, captain Mariel Hecher and midfielder Rebekah Horsey proved to be key for Lions. Hecher landed in the top five goalscorers for the season with 21 goals while Horsey has been a work-horse in the middle of the park.
Whereas in the Lions’ back line, the defensive combination of Catherine O’Neill and Kate Morton, in addition to keeper Cassandra Zaffina, was essential in keeping their conceded goals tally the lowest in the competition. American left-back Cannon Clough has been a revelation for the Premiership-winning side, with the attacking fullback scoring five goals and featuring in Team of the Week on six occasions.
While Moreton Bay United struggled defensively this season in comparison to Lions, they excelled in their offensive tactics.
Rylee Baisden has been instrumental in her team’s success, topping the Golden Boot ladder with 33 goals. Across the season, she’s scored seven hat-tricks including a double hat-trick in Round 13 where she netted an incredible seven goals against Western Pride.
Her outstanding performances across the season saw her earn ten features in Team of the Week, tying with Tegan Riding for most appearances.
Along with Baisden, Meaghan McElligott, Scottie Walker and Ali Schaefer have been powerhouses in the team’s formidable attack.
With a combination of 77 goals between them, it’s clear that Moreton Bay United’s key strength will be their dynamic quartet pushing forward and going for goals.
With W-League attacker Allira Toby also impressing for Moreton Bay recently, including leading them to a Semi Final victory with a brace last week, the side will have no shortage of attacking options come their Grand Final match.
It will be a clash for the ages this weekend as one of the competition’s strongest attacking side will take on the league’s strongest back line.
Tickets for the 2019 NPLW Queensland Grand Final will be available at the gate, with adult tickets $10 and Under 18 free.
Lions FC v Moreton Bay United
Saturday, 21 September, 6pm
Words: Vivien Topalovic