Lions pounce to reach the Final

Lions pounce to reach the Final

Posted on June 5, 2014 in 'Reports'

Stirling Lions produced a good all-round team performance to reach the Cool Ridge Cup Final after beating ECU Joondalup 3-1 at the ECU Football Arena on Monday afternoon, and in doing so booked a spot in the Westfield FFA Cup draw.

Meanwhile the ECU under 18’s also lost in the Semi-Final, going down 1-4 to Sorrento, Ronald Rixer was the ECU scorer.

Daniel Micevski opened the scoring early, before ECU defender Ryan Townsend saw red and was sent off, and David Micevski put away the resulting penalty to double their lead.  The home side was then reduced to nine men when Tommy Amphlett was given a straight red card, and David Micevski added his second late on with a stunning strike. ECU battled to the end and were rewarded a consolation goal from Joe Smith in stoppage time.

ECU Joondalup Coach Dale McCulloch thought his side battled hard after the break, but the damage had already been done. “To go down to ten men and 2-0 down in such a big game is very hard,” he said.

“The lads showed character in the second half, but we let ourselves down and the second red card killed us in the end, and we were just not at the races tonight.”

Lions coach Gary Williams can’t wait for the draw and hopes for an A-League side on the road, but wants to get back to concentrating on his sides league form. “It’s a great night for our football club, and being in the draw for the FFA cup will give great exposure across the country. It would be nice to get one of the big boys away, and it would great for the team camaraderie and everything else that goes with it, but we will put it bed now and concentrate on our league form,” he said.

“We know the importance of the game tonight, not just to reach the Cool Ridge Cup final, but going in the draw for the inaugural interstate cup competition and represent our state, and I’m really pleased with the performance from the lads tonight to achieve that.”

There was a big crowd on hand at kick off and both sides looked up for the battle, but the Lions began to take control and were rewarded with the lead on 16 minutes. Hayden Doyle found space on the right and played the ball into Daniel Micevski, who was given far too much room in the penalty area, and his shot on the turn flew past Andy Banks.

The home side were struggling to keep possession and the Lions were bossing the middle of the park, and on 26 minutes they doubled their advantage.

Dean Evans sent Jack Salter into the penalty area and he was brought down by Townsend and referee David Bruce pointed straight to the spot and sent the big defender off.

David Micevski took on penalty duties, after his brother Daniel had missed at Armadale on Saturday, and he showed him how to do it, sending Banks the wrong way to make it 2-0.

The Lions continued to dominate and Howard Neighbour went close to a third after he nipped in after hesitation in the Joondalup defence, but his shot went the wrong side of the post.

The visitors were showing no mercy after the break, with Doyle and Evans a constant threat, and Banks produced a great save to deny Doyle early on.

ECU looked dangerous from set pieces, and Jon Higgins’ curling free kick flashed inches past the post on the hour.

Moses Kalau was introduced on 64 minutes, and his pace caused problems down the left for ECU, and his powerful shot moments later stung the hands of Banks.

It went from bad to worse for the home side when Amphlett was given his marching orders after a poor tackle on 73 minute. Banks then produced a fingertip save to deny Doyle’s long-range shot.

To ECU’s credit they continued to take the game to the Lions, but they were getting caught out on the counter attack. Kalau raced clear again on 88 minutes, and his cross picked out Ali Ghoulami, whose shot was again well saved by Banks.

But in the final minute the Lions made it 3-0. Dennis Galen picked out David Micevski, 22 meters from goal. The midfielder raced forward and unleashed a powerful shot, which gave Banks no chance.

The home side were rewarded for their endeavour with a consolation goal in stoppage time. Jon Higgins burst clear, and his cheeky lob beat Aleks Vrteski but bounced off the crossbar, but Smith was quickest to react to the rebound and firing home from 12-meters.

ECU Joondalup Coach Dale McCulloch thought his side battled hard after the break, but the damage had already been done. “To go down to ten men and 2-0 down in such a big game is very hard,” he said.

“The lads showed character in the second half, but we let ourselves down and the second red card killed us in the end, and we were just not at the races tonight.”

Cool Ridge Cup Semi-Final

ECU Joondalup 1 (Smith 92’) Stirling Lions 3 (Daniel Micevski 16’, David Micevski 26’ pen, 90’)

Monday 2nd June 2014

Venue – ECU Football Arena, Joondalup

Attendance – 600 (Approx)

Referee – David Bruce

Assistants – Josh Mannella and Stuart Muldoon

Fourth Official – Trent Fleskens

ECU Joondalup – GK Andy BANKS, 2 Ryan LOWRY, 3 Jon HIGGINS (c), 4 Charlie COMYN-PLATT, 5 Ryan TOWNSEND, 6 Jon STYNES (15 Henry DURR 46’), 8 Joe SMITH, 9 David FOSTER (17 Praviz SHIRZADI 77’), 10 Andy HIGGINS (16 Ryan MCDARBY 29’),   13 Tommy AMPHLETT, 14 Jake BENSON-COOPER – Subs not used: RGK Ashley MAYNARD-BREWER, 12 Dejan SPASESKI –             Yellow Cards – Durr 66’, Benson-Cooper 70’

Red Cards – Townsend 25’, Amphlett 74’

Stirling Lions – GK Aleks VRTESKI, 2 Rikki SMITH, 5 Dean EVANS, 6 Hayden DOYLE, 8 Andy BROWN (c), 9 Daniel MICEVSKI (7 Moses KALAU 65’), 10 David MICEVSKI, 11 Dennis GALAN, 13 Jack SALTER (4 Ali GHOULAMI, 14 Clayton ARNEZ, 15 Howard NEIGHBOUR (12 Tim HILL 90’) – Subs not used – RGK Connor CAMPBELL

Yellow Cards – Evans 61’, Brown 66’, Neighbour 85’