Tigers overcome Lions in NSW NPL2 Grand Final

By Corinthian (Paul Green):

Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park

6pm, Saturday 19th September 2015 – Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park

Northern Tigers FC 2 (Shervin Adeli 53′, 85′)
Bankstown City Lions Lions FC 1 (Michael Beauchamp 59′)

Northern Tigers triumphed at the Sydney United Sports Centre last Saturday evening, when they accounted for a resilient Bankstown City Lions 2-1, in a game that was hotly contested.

The third-placed NPL2 team, Northern Tigers, scored first, but were soon pegged back by a goal from the fifth-placed Bankstown City Lions’ captain, Michael Beauchamp, having to score a second brilliant late goal from their man-of-the-match, midfielder Shervin Adeli.

With the top two teams having been dispatched by those placed below them, it fell to these two form sides to take centre stage on this occasion.

Both the Tigers and the Lions had scored five times against Premiers Spirit FC, so a goal fest was in prospect here.

But neither side wanted to concede and they set their defensive stall out early, which meant a scoreless first half and a cagey match up until the opening goal was scored in the 53rd, a superb individual effort from Tigers’ Adeli.

Not to be outdone however they might have been reeling from that setback, Bankstown came out immediately and soon drew level.

It was a magnificent near-post header from their storied captain and former A League star, Michael Beauchamp, that allowed them to equalise and it was clear, after that, that the Lions would be taking the game to their opponents and any semblance of caution was soon dispensed with.

The first half had been somewhat inconsequential, with few chances created and little to excite the spectators.

A ninth minute Bankstown free-kick, whipped in by the skilful Huseyin Jasli, might have been more productive had Lions’ defender, Grant Lynch been able capitalise when rising for a header, but an official’s flag had already been raised for an infringement, so a better finish would not have counted anyway.

Lynch was instrumental in setting up a chance in the 20th, combining well with enthusiastic striker, Gerard Ouffoue, to set up Chris Gomez with a gilt-edged opportunity, but the lively Gomez steered his is shot wide of the left hand upright.

Ouffoue climbed well to meet Jasli’s corner in the 43rd, but again was out of luck, with the flag raised for another infringement.

Northern Tigers had won several corners, too, but the well-drilled Bankstown back-line, marshalled by Beauchamp and Heffernan was in no mood to give much away.

Jasli lobbed from 25 yards out in the 50th only to see the opportunity of an unattended goal go begging with his shot just clearing the crossbar.

The Tigers responded when Michael West spooned one over in the 52nd after Liam McConaghy had played a ball over the heads of the Lions’ defenders, so chances were at last being more freely created.

Then, in the 53rd, the ice was broken.

Paul Davies came up from right back to take a left-sided corner, a specialty of his, whipping the ball into the near post and the Lions’ defence hacked the ball off the line, determinedly.

It was cleared only as far as Shervin Adeli, 25 yards out, who sent a powerful volley screaming into the top left corner of keeper, Dion Shaw’s, net.

That really opened things up completely and Bankstown came well out of their shells thereafter.

They won a corner of their own, on the right, with the impressive Jasli getting the ball across to the near post, speedily.

Beauchamp was quickest to it and nailed a precision header past Matt Nemes and in between the keeper and the near post.

At 1-1 Bankstown at last looked as if they might be finishing the game off in real style.

Nemes needed to be at his best to tip over a Jasli effort from 15 yards out that followed on from a smart piece of keeping by Nemes to come quickly off his line to deny Ouffoue in the 62nd.

Nemes again did well to tip over a Brima Kamara shot from the right which might have seen the Lions hit the front at last.

But the Tigers were beginning to claw their way back and made a substitution that gave them fresh legs in the shape of Julian Lim.

In the 85th, with Davies free to move forward more, the Tigers counter-attacked down the right and the ball was switched to Jamie Craig, whose clever cross was brilliantly volleyed home by the late arriving Adeli.

Just when it had looked as if the Lions would come back to win the game, the Tigers’ midfielder had silenced their vocal fans with anther brilliant finish.

Two further substitutions allowed the Tigers to see out the game and claim the spoils.

Late season form had been with the Northern Tigers and they carried on with that in the Finals’ series.

Bankstown had done even more, being on a long winning streak that had taken them into the crucial fifth play-off position.

On Grand Final Day, however, their run ended and even a great, last-ditch effort from Heffernan could not take them into extra time.

Northern Tigers once again showed what a great Grand Final team they can be, but coach, Steve Hurd, was not as happy as he might have been with the big result.

“We targeted the Club Championship and promotion, this season, so we fell short there, but I think we certainly deserved to win this today. It wasn’t our objective at the start of the season, but it’s still a great achievement by the team, “ he said.

His opposite number, Leo Carle, took the defeat well, in the circumstances.

“We are building a team here, so we are only part of the way there yet. I thought we were on top for a major part of the match, so naturally I’m disappointed not to win it. I can’t fault my team. They did very well to get to the Grand Final and finished the season of very well.

“We’ll be back next year to finish the job,” he declared.

Match details

Crowd:  approx 1,000

Northern Tigers FC: 1. Matt Nemes (gk); 6 Paul Davies, 4 Michael Rolston (C), 12 Russell Farrell, 13 Jamie Craig; 18 Tai Smith (17 Braden Cheng 88), 16 Steve Baveas (23 Julian Lim 78) 10 Shervin Adeli, 3 Lucas Dawson (5 David Kanaley 89), 9 Liam McConaghy; 7 Matthew West

Subs: RGK 21 Harrison Devenish-Meares, 11 Mitchell Smith, 2 Samuel Ryder

Coach: Steve Hurd
Yellow cards: Liam McConaghy 38, Jamie Craig 40, Steve Baveas 70, Tai Smith 67; Red cards: Nil

Bankstown City Lions FC: 1. Dion Shaw (gk); 2 Todd Halloran, 5 Michael Beauchamp (C), 8 Dean Heffernan, 3 Grant Lynch (12 Steven Veleski 86);  7 Brima Kamara , 22 Kyohei Kimura (6 Reuben Lagos 86), 10 Dominic Hudap; 11 Huseyin Jasli,  9 Chris Gomez (4 Aaron D’Mello 72), 17 Gerard Ouffoue

Subs not used: RGK 30 Nicholas Carosi, 20 Alvaro Malmierca

Coach: Leo Carle
Yellow cards: Huseyin Jasli 23, Dean Heffernan 38, Reuben Lagos 90; Red cards: Nil

Referee: Stephen Lucas
Assistants: Andrej Giev and Joon Park

Ratings and miscellaneous

Weather: Cool and cloudy.

Game: 7/10
Pitch: 10/10 (Synthetic)

Players noted:  Shervin Adeli (NT), Matthew West (NT), Michael Rolston (NT), Michael Beauchamp (BCL), Gerard Ouffoue (BCL), Dean Heffernan (BCL)