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Opinion

Lions FC take out NPL crown in Queensland

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29th November, 2020
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Lions FC were crowned 2020 Queensland NPL Champions after edging out Olympic FC 1-0 in a close contest at Perry Park.

Despite finishing fourth on the ladder, the Lions saw off Premiers Peninsula Power in the semi-final before clinching the trophy against the league runners up.

It was heartache for the third consecutive year in a grand final for Olympic, who may well look back at some contentious decisions and rue their luck.

The winning goal came in the 51st minute with Lions skipper Matija Simic winning the ball back in the attacking third and feeding midfielder Nathan Reardon, who beat Olympic keeper Lachlan Hunter with a low shot into the bottom corner from 18 yards.

It was a fairy-tale ending for the veteran Reardon, who had announced before the game he would be hanging up his boots.

The Lions had a chance to double their advantage in the 67th minute from the penalty spot but Jean Carlos Solorzano saw his shot saved by Hunter who got across his goal superbly to deny the former Brisbane Roar striker at full stretch.

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In what was a lively start to proceedings, Olympic had a chance to go ahead early in the first half when young winger Jez Lofthouse – deemed by many an A-League player in waiting – went on a mazy run and found striker Costa Psaros who snatched at his shot.

Lofthouse’s pace and trickery caused the Lions plenty of problems in the opening 45 minutes, but his influence waned in the second half as the Lions defence – led superbly by Tommy Jarrad – got to grips with the youngster.

As the game entered its latter stages Olympic pushed for an equaliser, and had two penalty appeals turned down in quick succession by referee Isidro Crespo.

The second of which – a shove on Tasuku Sekiya – looked like a strong claim, leading to protests from the Olympic bench and much derision from their vociferous support situated behind the goal.

The showpiece completed a season like no other in Queensland, which had began back in February. The outbreak of Covid 19 saw a lengthy delay and the departure of Mackay and Whitsunday Crusaders from the competition.

Lions Coach Darren Sime can celebrate a Championship in his debut season as Head Coach. Sime succeeded Warren Moon who left to take the Brisbane Roar job.

Moon also took Lions pair Josh Brindell South and midfielder Danny Kim with him to the Roar, and no doubt would have been casting a keen eye on proceedings on Saturday night.

Lions can also celebrate a double success with their Women’s side seeing off Logan Lightning 4-0 to take out the NPLW crown.

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For Olympic Head Coach Ben Cahn there will be little time for him to dwell on the result, with the 32-year-old being selected to lead a NPL Queensland All Star squad to take on Moon’s Roar this weekend before a match up against their NSW Counterparts in a Origin style ‘winner takes all’, as part of Football Queensland’s ‘Kappa Festival of Football’.