After what had been a brilliant season in the NPL QLD and a good run on the FFA Cup national stage, many thought that Lions FC might have a slight advantage on Sunday afternoon.
That was despite having to fly to South Australia, as their NPL Grand Final opponents Campbelltown City SC were the hosts for the 2018 decider.
It wasn’t to be Lions’ day though, with Campbelltown scoring two early first-half goals in order to clinch their first ever NPL Finals Series trophy.
The first goal came in just the fourth minute, after some good work down the right hand side from Yohei Matsumoto to keep the ball in play.
He delivered a pinpoint ball to the back post, where Anthony Ture took it on the half-volley and buried it to put Campbelltown up 1-0.
The hosts nearly had another just minutes later after some brilliant work from Yohei Matsumoto down the right once more, but Ture couldn’t get to it first and the Lions defence scrambled it out for a corner.
It was just past the half hour mark when Campbelltown would eventually grab their second, and it came from a Lions turnover inside the hosts’ half.
Marc Marino and Luigi DiTroia played a neat little one-two which set the latter off down the right-hand side. He fired a low ball in, beyond the Lions defence and straight into the path of Ture who buried it home for his, and Campebelltown’s, second of the day.
Lions had a good chance just before half-time through former Brisbane Roar man Jean Carlos Solórzano, but Campbelltown ‘keeper Nick Harpas rushed him and saw it out for a corner.
Four minutes after half-time, the visitors found their first goal. It was from the most unlikely of sources – right-back Andrew Thompson, who seized on a Campbelltown pass which fell short.
He charged forward and decided to take the shot on himself. Hit with the outside of his boot, the ball curved away from Harpas in the Campbelltown goal and nestled in the back of the net to pull Lions back into the match.
With the deficit halved, Lions began to push hard in search of a goal to eliminate Campbelltown’s lead.
It was the home team who nearly scored a spectacular goal in the 72nd minute, and from the most unlikely of sources – Iain Fyfe who let off an overhead kick but it was too high and hit the top of the net.
Lions pushed and pushed for an equaliser as the game wore down, but it was Campbelltown with the best chance of the final twenty minutes when Thomas Veart was squared up but his shot was straight at the ‘keeper.
In the end though, it was Campbelltown who maintained the lead they’d taken in just the fifth minute of play. It completed an unbelievable treble for the South Australian team – NPL SA Premiers and Champions, and now the NPL Finals Series trophy – and secures passage to the FFA Cup 2019 Round of 32.
Campbelltown City SC 2 (Ture 5', 32') def. Lions FC 1 (Thompson 49')
Sunday 30th September, 5pm at Steve Woodcock Sports Centre