Kingborough Lions recovered from a slow start to comeback from 1-0 at half time and defeat the Devonport Strikers 3-1 at KGV in Hobart.
Both sides started cautiously until Devonport started to gain the ascendancy.
Devonport’s Adam Gorrie had a golden opportunity to open the scoring in the 17th minute when he rounded the Nomadic Lions’ goal keeper Andrew Duncan, who was well outside his goal area, but Gorrie lacked the confidence to finish from that distance and angle, attempting to square the ball to Jake Gleeson but the scrambling Lions’ defenders snuffed out the chance.
Devonport didn’t have to wait long for another opportunity though, in the 18th minute Strikers’ winger Michael Holden outpaced his defender down the left flank and, with pressure coming from both defender and goal keeper, turned inside and finished somewhat unconvincingly into the bottom left corner of the goal with his non-preferred right foot.
The Strikers maintained the upper hand for the majority of the half and should have at least doubled their lead on numerous occasions; an opinion Lions’ coach Colin Robbins shared after the game. Kingborough only had a few half chances in the first half and would have been thankful to be only one goal down at half time.
The second half was of stark contrast to the first, Kingborough Lions came out in a different frame of mind and, even though the whole side had lifted, the crowd were treated to what could only be described as the ‘Schuth Show’. In the first minute after the restart, Joel Schuth muscled past Ben Andrews, whom up until that point had the measure of Schuth, and hit a pinpoint cross to Lewis Verdouw. Verdouw simply couldn’t miss from the six yard box.
In the 52nd minute chaos reigned over KGV. Schuth was again the provider, this time delivering a cross from the right to the back post, where Danny Cowen nodded home to give Kingborough the lead. When the goal was scored each team had a player on the ground injured. Verdouw was over the sideline on the right wing with a knock to his right ankle. Devonport’s captain and coach, Bobby Eaves, was lying near the halfway line clutching his knee ominously and had to be carried from the field on the stretcher.
With the leadership of Eaves gone it was always going to be difficult for the Strikers to get back into the game. Kingborough Coach Colin Robbins’ to-the-minute preseason planning shone through in the last 30 minutes, the Lions controlled proceedings and finished the game full of running. Conversely, the Strikers were cramping all over the park and ruing their lack of preseason friendlies.
In the 7th minute of injury time the Lions, added salt to wound by making it 3-1. Schuth applied the icing to his own celebratory cake, when he worried the last defender, Gorrie, off the ball and skilfully slipped the ball under the advancing Tom Pearce.
Kingborough Coach Colin Robbins was delighted with the response from his Lions after what he saw as a lacklustre opening half.
“We were a little bit disappointed in our performance in the first half and we were probably fortunate we weren’t three goals down to be honest, we had a look at some things we weren’t doing well, corrected those and the boys showed in the second half that they can play football,” he said.
“Joel (Schuth) stepped up, Jack (Turner) stepped up, we played football how we want to play football, we won the ball, kept pressure on them, there was a nice little breeze helping us out and they were hungry to score and the third one capped off a good day,” Robbins said.
Strikers Vice Captain Kieran Mulraney said Devonport ran out of legs in the second half, with their lack of pre-season match practice against Victory League opposition telling the longer the game wore on.
“Obviously last year we struggled with bus trips so we had a big focus on really turning up today and perfect start we thought, 1-0 up at half time and then apparently we didn’t get of the bus in the second half,” he said.
Next week both teams play at home, Kingborough take on this week’s surprise packet, Glenorchy Knights, and Devonport face the might of reigning Champions South Hobart.
Kingborough Lions 3 (Lewis Verdouw 46′, Danny Cowen 52′, Joel Schuth 90’+7)
Devonport Strikers 1 (Michael Holden 18’)